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Posted 03.08.17

Student screenings & expert masterclasses at Aesthetica Film Festival

By Kat Peberdy

Andrew James, BA (Hons) Film lecturer

As official partners of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF), the college invited festival attendees to view student films and take part in a panel discussion about creative freedom and personal approaches to filmmaking entitled ‘No House Style’, hosted by BA (Hons) Film lecturer Andrew James.

ASFF is a BAFTA recognised short film festival celebrating exciting and diverse filmmaking, with discussions and masterclasses led by industry experts such as Emmy and BAFTA winning producer Adam Gee, and award winning actress and writer Alice Lowe, offering essential advice and support for both emerging and established practitioners. 

Andrew has been a lecturer at the college since 2007, with a particular focus on art direction and cinematic storytelling, he is interested in how interdisciplinary approaches can improve filmmaking. We sat down with Andrew to discuss the college’s involvement in this formative festival.

Tell us about your involvement at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and why it is such an important partnership.

ASFF is a leading international short film festival that acts a showcase for innovative films as well as masterclasses and networking opportunities from leading creatives in the field of filmmaking, so it’s important that our students get a taste of this.

An established relationship between the college and the festival has recently expanded to become a partnership, and that has made my role as the trip organiser as well as a Plymouth filmmaker all the more exciting.

Why did you choose the subject 'No House Style' for the panel discussion?

As a team we thought about what was really unique about our film programme, one large part of this is that we still shoot on film as well as digital and that we nurture collaborations from across the college. We have a unique profile in the sector, as an independent stand alone art college where the possibilities for collaborations across practices are championed, and unique thinking is celebrated.

We've developed the BA (Hons) Film programme around encouraging creative freedom, with no reliance on genre and instead working around themes, resulting in significantly more diverse and imaginative work being produced that defies any unified style.

– Andrew James, BA (Hons) Film lecturer

Who joined you on the panel?

We invited three graduate students and one current student to join the panel discussion, this allowed a conversation around not only our current practice but also how it leads to progression after graduation.

That's a really interesting approach, how did it go?

It went really well! It was rewarding to hear the students talk so articulately about their experience of being a student at the college, and talk in such a mature way about their practice and their experience on the course.

ASFF is an annual event, so this is definitely something we would be interested in doing again, as it was incredibly rewarding for both the students and myself.

What was the audience response to the student's films?

The audience stayed to the very end! Our students had seen a lot of work from other filmmakers through the festival at this point, and this screening gave them the opportunity to view their own work in the context of the film festival. They realised how well they sat alongside international films made by professional companies. They were excited to see the possibilities of submitting work to film festivals in the future.

What sort of things did our students and graduates get to do whilst at the festival?

We took Masterclasses ranging from ‘Working with Actors’ from the world renowned RADA company to ‘The Craft of Visual Storytelling’ from influential editor Celia Haining. There were plenty of opportunities for professional networking too, as well as multiple screenings to become immersed in a world of film, discussion and note taking. We're already looking forward to this years festival, and we have submitted a number of student films for consideration from their judging panel.