Tom behind the scenes of a Rampant Sporting promo he did earlier this year

English and Film student makes British Student Film Festival shortlist

Tom Murray, 2nd Year English and Film student, recently beat several hundred entries across the country to reach the shortlist at this years’ British Student Film Festival with his video Oberon, the official music video for artist My Glass World.

Held on London’s Brick Lane, the film was judged by a phenomenal panel, including famous English portrait and fashion photographer Rankin – whose body of work features some of the most celebrated publications for big brands, including Nike, Dove, Pantene and magazine covers for Elle, Harpers Bazaar, Esquire and GQ.  Other notable judges included Jonathon Amos, editor of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’,  ‘Spooks’ and ‘Peep Show’, and Seanine Joyce, orchestrator of ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

We caught up with Tom after the event to find out how he got involved with this years’ festival and his plans for the future.

Congratulations Tom from all of us here in the College of Humanities. Your film was shortlisted as ‘Jury’s Choice’ at the British Student Film Festival - could you explain what this means?

Yes, all films entered for the festival were screened in major cities around the country, and out of several hundred entries from colleges, universities and film schools, mine was shortlisted for two awards: Best Cinematography and Best Music Video. This meant that it would be seen by the panel of judges, including the photographer, Rankin.

How did you hear about the competition?

I heard via the independent film network Shooting People. However similar competitions are regularly advertised in the internal Film Studies departmental newsletter - which is a great way of letting us students know about this sort of opportunity.

Can you tell us what the inspiration was behind your film?

The film is the official music video for the track Oberon and so was the product of the usual pitching process, which goes something like this: the label sends out a brief (the song and some creative direction - in this case, fairly open ended) and a budget, and then a director writes up a treatment (a pitch, with appropriate references) and sends it in. The treatments are then all considered.  I seem to recall there were 24 in total, which is quite a few!  Fortunately my thoughts had resonated directly with the artist, and after a brief discussion, I was given the go-ahead!  The inspiration for the video is purely from the song - I wanted to make something cinematic and emotionally compelling.

Your actors seem very professional - how did you find them?

The children are neighbours of mine in Wimbledon!

Were any of your friends and fellow students from Exeter involved with your project?

I have plenty of friends from Exeter who live in London , like me, and normally help out as crew on things like this, but the shoot was very last minute and on Christmas Eve, so I shot it all myself. I believe I was the only student from the University to enter this year.

Could you describe the awards ceremony itself?

The awards ceremony was a lovely affair in a Brick Lane gallery. It was interesting to meet young people from across the country and talk to them about their differing experiences in making films. We were each given a goody bag which had a guide to all the films in and some posh popcorn. The awards were given and each winner was screened to a great crowd.

The Undergraduate Film Studies  programme at Exeter doesn’t currently offer have practical film modules, so how did you get the practical experience required to make your film?

I've been making films since the age of thirteen, and directing music videos and promos recently became a full-time job. So I've invested in my own equipment and am completely self-sufficient in that respect. That said, I know that the university has great resources that I could always use if I needed to.

Were you encouraged along the way by Film staff here at Exeter?

My personal tutor, Song Hwee Lim, has always been incredibly supportive of everything I do. He was very kind in sending the news of my film to all those studying and teaching in the Film Studies department! There are plenty of creative writing academics at the university too (among them the successful screenwriters and novelists Sam North and Philip Hensher) who I've always found to be available and generous in their feedback, making Exeter without doubt the perfect place for aspiring writers. It's nice to know that the university are interested in what you do and will do what they can to help.

So how has your degree programme helped you get this far?

The reason I applied for English and Film Studies was because of the excellent level of research on film theory and history - I knew how to make a film, but I didn't have the level of knowledge that the Film Studies faculty had. I've had the opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in their field and share ideas with my peers.  Also, the staff, resources (such as the Bill Douglas Centre) and fellow students are all second to none. Not only are the academic aspects strong - but the practical ones are too. If you want to pursue a career in film, the most valuable asset that Exeter has to offer will be the people around you: like-minded and passionate minds to collaborate and learn with.

Finally, what do you hope to do after you graduate?

I'm going into my third and final year in September 2012 and I hope to build on my success and contacts made this year.   In the end I wasn't entirely surprised that I didn’t win the competition, but that said, it's all part of growing up, and I was just happy to get my work seen by such figures.  I plan on doing enough solid work that I can then go on to shoot the feature film I have planned... I can't say much about it, except that it is something I'm currently writing and it has attracted the interest of an established actor. I hope to finish the screenplay by the time I graduate, so no pressure whatsoever!

Thank you Tom, and good luck with your feature film!

More information on the British Student Film Festival can be found online.  Tom’s music video is available to view on YouTube.

Date: 27 June 2012

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