Young filmmakers from the North East enjoyed a red carpet premiere of documentary films they made in association with TynesideCinema and intu.

A gala screening of four short documentaries made by young filmmakers aged 15 – 18 at the Northern Stars Documentary Academy were enjoyed by participants, mentors, family and friends at Tyneside Cinema.

Mentored by industry professionals the fledgling directors tackled a range of gritty and fascinating subjects which they then shot and edited throughout the autumn of last year.

The four documentaries were screened to huge acclaim in front of an audience of family, friends, VIPs and industry professionals at a private event at the end of December. They will now be entered into film festivals across the UK and abroad.

The programme, now in its fifth year, has been made possible thanks to funding from intu properties plc, who co-own intu Eldon Square inNewcastle and intu Metrocentre in Gateshead. The Academy is a key part of intu’s corporate responsibility strategy in the North East which focuses on educational and skills support for young people.

Alexander Nicoll, intu Corporate Responsibility Director, said:

 “Over the years the Northern Stars Academy films have both inspired and jolted audiences.  Dealing with subjects chosen by the young filmmakers, the films highlight important social issues and the many, often hidden, individuals who give so much to their local communities and often face personal challenges as they do so. I and everyone at intu are very proud to support these filmmakers as they promote these stories through their films.”

All the young people taking part are able to add their films to their portfolio, and previous participants have used their experience from the programme to gain entrance to university and get work in the film industry. 

Ian Fenton, Creative Director of Learning & Participation at Tyneside Cinema, added:

“These four exciting, informative and touching short films are the result of tremendously hard work by our young filmmakers, and we are proud to presentthem here at Tyneside Cinema. As Northern Stars Documentary Academy enters its fifth year the programme continues to provide a unique opportunity for young people to learn about the art of documentary filmmaking and develop their skills, and as ever we are immensely grateful for the vital support of intu for this important project.”

Charlotte Harris, (18), a pupil at Whitley Bay High School and co-director of Plain Sight said on the night:

“My experience on this project working with Tyneside cinema has really allowed me to give a voice to something I feel very strongly about. I think – especially when it comes to domestic violence andsexual assault – we as a society think we talk enough about these issues, but it’s clearly still an epidemic that needs to be confronted. Creating this documentary was just the beginning of doing just that for me.”

Lilith Allen (18), a pupil at Kenton Sixth Form College and co-director of Plain Sight said:

“I wanted to work in the film industry for a while, but before the academy I had no idea how I could do this. It gave me a unique insight into all the processes behind film making, and I have taken away so much, it has been something I will never forget.”

Amy Jobe (17), a pupil at Prudhoe Community High School and director of Still Life, said:

“This has been such an amazing experience, and I have learnt more than I could ever have imagined at the beginning of the project. I’ve been responsible for protecting our contributors’ true stories and lives, and needed to really respect where they’ve come from, to protect their memories, as well as encouraging them to open up for the camera. It has been an emotional journey, and one which has really improved my confidence and people skills, learning to interact with the subjects of the film and the wider team on Northern Stars. It really has been a great team effort, hugely supported by our amazing mentors from Tyneside Cinema, and has been a life changing experience. To see all of the films up on the big screen and for them to receive such a positive response has been amazing!” 

A brief description of the films, and links to view are below. Password to view the films is NSDA17 (please note password is case sensitive)

  • STILL LIFE – A look at some of the people who appear in the pictures of the celebrated photographer Tish Murtha, who captured the life of young people in the West End in the early 80s. The film asks what their lives were like when those pictures were taken and what has happened to them since.

Still Life:

  • DARKER WATERS – A profile of surfing in the North East, where two surfers explain what inspires them to brave the cold waters of the North Sea in pursuit of their passion.

Darker Waters:

  • MY 13TH BIRTHDAY – The inspiring story of Jade Gadd, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition that can leave her confined to her bed for days at a time, and how she copes with her condition through her creativity and with the support of her family.

My 13th Birthday

  • PLAIN SIGHT – A documentary about the treatment of women in society. Often hidden and (until recently) unacknowledged, harassment, violence and abuse is discussed from the viewpoint of women who have experienced it or work with those who do.

Plain Sight:


A behind the scenes film about the making of the four documentaries and the young people talking about their experiences can be viewed here:

Behind the Scenes: