Film alumni win award for their short film, Birdwatching

A big congratulations to Film alumni, Tommy-Joe Brown, Matt Appleby and Harry Reeves for the success of their short film, Birdwatching, winning the award for Best Local Short Film at Ramsgate Film Festival.

Birdwatching was also an Official Selection for Worcester Film Festival, and nominated for Best Short Narrative. We caught up with Tommy, Matt and Harry to find out more about their time at Kent and what they are up to now.

Where has your career taken you since leaving Kent?

Tommy-Joe: Since leaving Kent, I have gone on to start my career in unscripted Television as a Production Runner! I’ve been fortunate enough to work on two large productions; BBC One’s I Can See Your Voice and ITV’s Game of Talents for ThamesTV.

Harry: I currently do freelance videography work and have just finished some work for Chiltern Railways and JRC training. I’m trying to get into film development. But for the time being, pub work it is!

Matt: I am now working full time as a filmmaker for a tech company.

Congratulations on the success of your short, Birdwatching! Could you tell us a bit more about your short?

Thank you! Birdwatching is about Guy, a divorcee, who is attempting to amend his marriage and withhold a relationship with his 8-year-old son. After coming to grips with the realisation that he may never get his family back, he is caught in an unexpected situation.

How did the short film come about, and who else was involved in the making of it? What was your influence?

Tommy-Joe: Birdwatching was our graduation film, made for the final year module ‘Microbudget Filmmaking‘ with Lawrence Jackson. Harry and Matt  were also involved as the Writer/Director and Cinematographer/Editor respectively. My main role was the Producer, but with a minimal crew of three, I was also on sound.

Harry: The influence or the concept came from me and Matthew spit-balling a vocation and then a situation. The two we put together ended up being Birdwatching and Witnesses Violence. Matt went off and did the treatment and from that I wrote a screenplay. Lawrence Jackson was such a major influence and help, without his help I don’t believe that the project would’ve been anywhere as good as it turned to be. He helped me a lot in the writing process and is always willing to engage with us when we needed help or a different perspective.

What was your favourite module from your time at Kent?

Harry: I really enjoyed ‘Screenwriting‘ with Lawrence Jackson, it really cemented what I want to do with my life. I also really enjoyed ‘Working with Actors’ and ‘Microbudget Filmmaking’.

Matt: Screenwriting was my favourite module; closely followed by Microbudget Filmmaking. It doesn’t surpass it due to the disappointing equipment and restrictions; but working with professional actors on this module was an amazing experience. Shout-out to Lawrence Jackson for making every one of his modules enjoyable.

Tommy-Joe: My favourite module was ‘Beyond Cinema’ with Lavinia Brydon! I thoroughly enjoyed being able to explore other aspects of the wider industry, such as film tourism and event-led cinema (like Secret Cinema). I even got the opportunity to host my own event, a screening of Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009) in an inflatable planetarium!

How do you feel your time at Kent prepared you for the film industry and your career?

Tommy-Joe: For entry-level roles, nothing can directly prepare you as you learn so much on the job and being in the studio environment. Studying at Kent has helped show a demonstrable passion for the industry. More importantly, the biggest benefit, is that it’s given me proven experience of soft skills such as time management, team-working and the ability to prioritise tasks – when I had to complete modular assignments, extracurricular societies and participating in team sports all at the same time.

Do you have any future projects coming up that you would like to share?

Tommy-Joe: As my priority is to get continual paid work in TV, my focus is on securing my next production to work on. However I do very much enjoy short filmmaking in any free time, and hope to film another short in the summer – so keep an eye out! I have recently also found out I was successful in being accepted into The Grierson Trusts’ Production Management trainee scheme, which includes a three-month paid placement at Netflix.

Harry: There are potentially three screenplays I have written that could come to life this year…

Matt: We are developing a few short films that we hope to shoot soon.

You can keep up to latest with Tommy-Joe and Harry on Instagram.

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