The red carpet was laid out, the local media was present and the stars of the big screen were graciously awaiting the news of whether they were successful in becoming winners at the first ever Horsham film festival on February 21st.
Organised by local film production company Silvertip FIlms, supported by the Horsham District Year of Culture 2019 and media partners The District Post, it was a night that bought together the best in film making from a variety of independent and in some cases, first time film makers.
Hosted by TV presenter Jessica Jay and judged by our very own Davey Pearson, founder of Silvertip films Geoff Cockwill and producer of Downton Abbey, Chris Croucher, the event seamlessly ran through a wide range of categories for both under and over 18 age groups.
Over 120 people filled the Christ’s Hospital theatre to see the winners announced, that, thanks to some incredible sponsors, were the lucky recipients of some amazing prizes,
Camera equipment from Manfrotto
Camera bag equipment from OrcaBags
Books from Michael Wiese publications
Books from Waterstones
Vouchers from Cineworld
Vouchers from Smith and Western
Vouchers for bowling from The Rec
Beer, brewery tours and video commissions from Firebird Brewery
Studio time at Square 1 studio in Dorking
Sailing holidays to Greece plus video commissions from Seafarer Sailing Holidays
An overnight stay plus use of the new spa at South Lodge Hotel in Horsham.
Along with paying tribute to the wonderful film makers and their teams, the event was also raising funds for local charity, The Spingboard Project, with over £400 raised on the night. The staff from the charity, on hand to tell people all about the excellent work they do in the community for Children.
The night was divided in half with the sounds of Big Notes Choir entertaining the audience at the interval, with renditions of Pharell Williams Happy and Queens Bohemian Rhapsody filling the hall with sound and harmony.
To the awards themselves then…and the winners, The best documentary category for over 18’s was won by Horsham Park Run, an inspiring story about how this activity has bought people together, directed by Mike Hibberd, a first time film maker! The under 18 award in this category went to Sussex Sights, a phenomenal piece of film, shot using a drone by Luke Whatley-Bigg. It gave views of our County that could take your breath away!
Comedy is always a tricky one and both winners succeeded in their aims, quirky film “Sticks” won the over 18 award with a film that brings back memories of playing in the woods, this film the brainchild of director Syd Heather. The under 18 film in this category perfectly encapsulated the idea of creating a spoof with a dodgy soundtrack, poor dubbing and mistimed lines. Dark Triad by Jake Robinson certainly deserved its win.
The drama section was a tightly contested category and of the almost 500 films viewed by the judges for the event, it was drama that filled the majority so to come out victorious in this award was very special for the winners, in the over 18 category, The Waters edge came out on top, visually stunning and filmed predominantly underwater, this was more success for Nick Sneath who has steadily built up a successful portfolio. We spoke to Nick after the awards about what inspired him to make this film, “The underwater cinematographer, Rich Stevenson was the catalyst for the film. We’d worked together on an underwater commercial and he was keen to do another project. Thematically, I wanted to create a claustrophobic environment where the lead actor was trapped underwater in a lake-the rest of the storyline revolved around that simple idea.”
In the Under 18 category, you couldn’t help but be moved by the fantastic ‘Til Tomorrow” by Mattie Boys, complimented by a Mattia Cuppeli soundtrack, it was hard not to feel immersed in the story that Mattie created. We caught up with him and asked him about his film, ” My inspiration for the film came from a number of things. Firstly I knew that I didn’t want a stereotypical lead, this led to me creating Charlie, a teenager but unlike most distant, grumpy teenagers, Charlie is loving and has plenty of time to spend with family and friends and is very happy. To form the story I wanted to include a loss and then explore a domino effect where one persons actions can affect the mood and actions of others. From this I formed the storyline.”
In the animation category, we saw “Flicker” take home the prize for over 18’s, a film by Conrad Moody it almost had the look and feel of Belle Vous Rendezvous with its beautifully illustrated scenes.
For the under 18’s and perhaps the biggest cheer of the night, The Bridge was successful in claiming the award. Created, animated and voiced by the Children from Maple walk and Faraday Schools it was a story filled with the imagination only a Child can posses but with some great one liners that made everybody laugh.
The final award of the evening was the Your District award, films shot in the Horsham District that stood out amongst the many that were submitted. The over 18 award was claimed by the tension filled “Prey” a film that had you wondering what was going to happen next and ending in a way you may not have expected. Directed by Eric Storey it was his first time creating a film.
Project Kino took the judges eye in the under 18 section for this category with its clever references to entering a film festival and winning, which as it happened came true for Tanbridge student Tom Gerrard.
Speaking to Jessica on stage, the Horsham District Council cabinet member for culture and leisure, Jonathan Chowen said, “A first for our District, it served as the perfect platform to showcase unique local talent in film making and to highlight many endearing features of our area, its landscape and communities.”
“It has created a blue print for future film festivals and will create a legacy from the Year of Culture long after the year of celebrations.”
A final word from the creator of the event, Geoff Cockwill, “To have achieved the massive number of entries-and of such high quality was fantastic. The event would not have been possible without the support of the Horsham District Year of Culture and we would like to thank everyone involved for supporting the festival.”
The 2020 event is already being planned so watch this space!