HND Creative Media students (back row: Naomi Hemming, Hallam Gill; middle row: Jack Beale-Burchell, Max Ramsden, Zac Bowen, Sam Burgess-Green; front row: Liam Clarke, Amy O’Brien) attending the premier screening of their films

HND Creative Media students from Stratford-upon-Avon College have swept the board in an international film competition hosted by the British Council and the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Colleges.

The Design Challenge competition, created in association with the Royal Opera House, asked students to create short 5-minute films inspired by Verdi’s La Traviata.  The College’s Media students made 11 short films based on the opera’s storylines, each one produced and submitted by a single student, and remarkably won awards for five major categories:

  • BEST FILM  –  Max Ramsden for Morose
  • BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY  –  Jack Beale-Burchell for Io Selezionero
  • BEST SCREENPLAY  –  Zac Bowen for Sally
  • BEST SOUNDTRACK  –  Liam Clarke for Love is Red
  • BEST TECHNICAL DESIGN  –  Naomi Hemming for Tryst’ed

Commenting on his students’ success, lecturer of Creative Media Phil Middleham said: “Winning all these major categories is a tremendous achievement.  The students have always impressed me with their enthusiasm and creativity, but they have surpassed my expectations.  I congratulate each and every one of them and I’m certain that they will go on to have a very bright future in the media industry.”

As part of their preparation for the Design Challenge, the College students took advantage of the cultural skills exchange programme ‘Scene Change’; initiated in August 2014 and supported by, amongst others, the British Council and the Royal Opera House, this two-year project aims to foster creative collaboration between students and teachers in the UK and Brazil.  In December of last year, students at Stratford-upon-Avon College held a video chat with a participating college on the other side of the Atlantic – Spectaculu School of Art and Technology, an arts college in Rio de Janeiro – allowing them to share ideas on their respective projects and to discuss strategies and the challenges they faced.

The competition entries premiered on Monday 22 February with a screening of all 11 short films at the College’s Willows Theatre.  The films, which were streamed live to Rio de Janeiro, were each followed by a ‘Question & Answer’ session, giving the filmmakers the opportunity to explain their creative choices and the challenges they overcame during the production process.

The students are thrilled and justifiably proud of their success.  Speaking about his Best Film win, Max said: “This has been an amazing experience.  I really enjoyed making my film, but I never expected it would be judged the best.  I’ve always been interested in a career in the film industry and winning this has made me even more determined to succeed.”

Jack, who won for Best Cinematography, said: “I’ve learnt so much at the College.  The Media lecturers haven’t just helped me develop technical skills but have given me creative ideas and inspiration.  I tried to put into practice everything they taught me and I’m sure that played a huge part in winning.”

For more information on any of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s courses, please visit or call the College on 01789 266245.

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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