North East Connected

Hollywood beckons: Students celebrate international film success

While the entertainment industry may be among the hardest hit by Covid-19 – that hasn’t stopped four Sunderland students smashing it out the park with their short film.

Before It All Happened has won ‘Best Original Story’ at the London Shorts as well as being short-listed and screened at the LA Shorts.

It also made the nominations at the Paris Film Festival.

Before It All Happened is a romantic drama, which tells the story of Nathan, a groom sent to the future on his wedding day and is unsure if he likes what he sees.

Swiss-born producer Tiago Francisco, 25, graduated from Sunderland this month with a degree in Digital Film Production.

“It’s mind-blowing that our short film has been selected for LA Shorts, one of the most prestigious film festivals worldwide,” he said.

“The winners will be announced on July 31st, but for me it’s already a win to be selected and have our short film screened the festival.”

Scriptwriter, Nicole Teh, from Malaysia, studied Mass Communication at Sunderland and also graduated this summer.

The 21-year-old said: “I think it’s great exposure and recognition for the young talent out there.

“Regardless of age, skin colour or race, there are so many talented people and students like us that just want to showcase their skills but haven’t got the chance. This was an amazing opportunity.

“This is not a one man show, though, I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

Tiago and Nicole worked alongside 23-year-old Digital Film Production student and director Elton Tan and Mass Communication student Leonard Lee, also 23, on sound.

Ian McPake is Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Film Production and a Senior Lecturer in Broadcast and Digital Media at the University of Sunderland.

“The high level of ambition from this group was clear from the outset,” he said.

“From the early stages of pre-production, they had the drive and determination to create a short film, which would connect with the audience and display extremely high production values.

“The completed film has already achieved success at film festivals around the world and I’m sure it will help them achieve their career goals. A massive well done to everyone involved.”

Nicholas Glean, Senior Lecturer in Video and New Media at the University, added: “The achievement these students have made in such extraordinary and tragic times is simply amazing. Their dedication, hard work and skills have managed to bring smiles to all our faces, I am so proud. I wish them all good luck in the future.”

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