Seeing the Light

Snake Charmer

Went to the First Light Awards the other morning, the UK Film Council initiative championed by the charming Barbara Brocolli (daughter of Cubby of Bond fame) which gives young people from 5 to 18 the opportunity to make films, with the guidance of local professionals where wanted. In the five years it has been running some 10,000 young people have been involved in the process of making about 650 films.Every year there’s something which really makes you sit up. A few years ago I saw Joe Magee’s Gearhead at it and got it acquired as a result by Channel 4 along with the other two films in his trilogy. Recently I’ve been trying to get Joe hooked in with the writing team of Skins. Talking of Skins, Cassie, Jal, Sid and Anwar were among the award presenters who also included Sean Bean (my first professional link to him was via Roger Deakins on Mike Figgis’ Stormy Monday), Sanjeev Bhaskhar (my only link to him was sleeping in a bed with Meera Syal’s brother Raj at my bro’s stag weekend in Brighton – totally platonic of course, “See the Bears game last night? Hell of a game!”), Imelda Staunton (who i saw a couple of weeks ago in Frank McGuiness’ Here Came a GipsyRiding at the Almeida).Imelda presented the lovely (literally) glowing award (each had a different coloured light inside) to one of the two stand out productions this year – a sihouetted animation entitled The Princess and The Pendant by Hartside primary school, really beautiful, resonant of Douanier Rousseau’s snake charmer and Indonesian shadow puppets, the earliest of cinema.

The other stand-out was 23 Pieces which won the Best Screenplay award, written by a group of young writers from PVA Medialab in Bridport.

The awards were energetically presented by Popworld presenter Alex Zane who reflected the warmth, enthusiasm, excitement and total absence of cynicism which characerise these awards, due of course to the children at their heart. Had a good chat with Alex afterwards over lunch, hearing about his latest Balls of Steel exploits in the Big Apple, where fake gameshows are all the better to pull off.

Looking at the pros around in the audience you can’t help feeling that it’s difficult to keep in touch with that vibe – Duncan Kenworthy of BAFTA looked tired (mind you it was only 10.30, a bit on the early side for film awards) and Rebecca O’Brien, Ken Loach’s producer, despite looking innocent enough trailed behind her a distinctly serpent-in-the-garden reputation like toilet paper stuck to her shoe. By contrast the 4Talent West Midlands crew – Dan Jones, Jonnie Turpie and Nick Carson of Maverick – were is their usual bubbly form before retiring to a pub before the noon watershed for a ‘meeting’.

So here’s to keeping in touch with child enthusiam, energy, creativity and innocent joy.

2 comments so far

  1. Angelo on


  2. Prokopios on


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