'Agatha' is November's Film of the Month winner

26 Jan 2018 in Film of the Month

6 mins
'Agatha' is November's Film of the Month winner

We're pleased to announce that our Film of the Month winner for November 2017 is the hard-hitting Agatha, made by Brandon and Danielle, both aged 15.

Engaging for viewers aged 14+, Agatha is a darkly complex tale of family, homelessness, mental health and abuse. Emotionally raw, and even frightening in places, Agatha may not be an easy watch, dealing as it does with very mature themes, but it's a supremely well made film.

Wow! A challenging and heart-wrenching topic, and a tour de force of camera work, editing and visual effects. Very impressive.

Film of the Month judge on 'Agatha'

We got in touch with Brandon to ask him more about Agatha.

How does it feel to win the Film of the Month competition?

When I first found out that I had won the Film of the Month competition I was really proud of myself but didn't really know what to think, as it was such a shock! Although as soon as I did find out, I did start telling everyone.

How long have you been making films, and how did you become so good at using special effects?

I started making films when I was about 7 or 8 on my mum's old phone (so around 8 years ago) and ever since then it's been a hobby as well as the beginning of a career for me. On the VFX side of things, it was something I started adding as my film ideas began getting even more ambitious. To learn I just self-taught myself by thinking of what I wanted to do and then searching the internet for how to do it!

The film is made by you and Danielle; did you each focus on different aspects of the film, or were you both making 50/50 decisions about everything?

When me and Danielle were working together it was mainly me doing all the film side of things, as she's never really had much of an experience in it. However, from the beginning, the general idea of the film was brought to me by Danielle, so when I was writing the film, I kept in contact with her so I could get a second opinion on what I was writing, due to making so many changes to her original idea. As well as this, we did come up with the locations, costumes and props together, and both divided the extremely high budget (of £5...) to purchase everything we needed!

Agatha has two very dynamic aspects to it: sound design and filming style. Where did you get the idea for these from?

For the sound design and filming, it's just come from me and it's sort of my own style of filmmaking that people could recognise me for. I just used similar framing techniques as to the ones I use in my photography, such as things like leading lines and the rule of thirds. These are basic techniques but without them in mind while shooting, the majority of the film wouldn't be as emotionally impactful as it is now. It's the invisible elements like sound and framing, making you feel a certain way without even realising. These are all things I've learned over time with experience in my filmmaking over the years.

What message would you like people to take from Agatha?

The message from Agatha is sort of a tough one, however in my opinion I think it's more of an insight into things that happen in the world quite a lot, especially to people my age. I think it does also show that there isn't only one way out of a tough situation.

What advice would you give to other young people who want to start making films?

My advice is cliched but it's literally just to work hard, make sure you get your work out there, and listen to other people's opinions, even if they are negative. After everything it will definitely be a huge benefit, even if it's harsh or upsetting. Even after making and winning with Agatha I'm STILL unsure on so many parts of it, and every time I watch it I know so many things I'd like to change, but not necessarily know how to actually change them or how to make them better. This is why I keep asking people for what I could do better, but unfortunately no one ever seems to know!

If you could make Agatha again what would you do differently, and why? 

Making Agatha again, I'd definitely invest in some better equipment, like lighting or sliders, as this would've helped set the tone of the film even better, as well as making the emotions a lot stronger.

What are some of your favourite films, and why?

For someone who makes films, I don't actually watch an awful lot of them! Although my favourites are literally every one of Christopher Nolan's films, like Interstellar, Inception and I can't forget about Batman! I love these films because their stories are so powerful, and that's what makes me remember them over all of the others. It's something I see consistently in all of Nolan's films, which is why they're my favourites.

Agatha will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and on the Into Film YouTube channel, and Brandon and Danielle have won a £100 Amazon voucher and a DVD! If you've been inspired by November's winner, find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you liked Agatha why not try these related films:

  • Fish Tank (2009, 15, 120mins) Engaging for 14+
    Andrea Arnold's second feature film, in which an Essex teenager comes of age with the arrival of her mother's new boyfriend.
  • The Arbor (2010, 15, 90mins) Engaging for 14+
    Docu-drama of the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, who took her own life at the age of 29, from acclaimed British director Clio Barnard.
  • Kidulthood (2006, 15, 89mins) Engaging for 16+
    West London teenage drama which kick-started a pulls-no-punches trilogy that depicted an alienated youth, examining their pressures and problems.
  • I Killed My Mother (2009, 15, 95mins) Engaging for 16+
    French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan's directorial debut - which he also wrote, produced and starred in at the age of just 20 - explores the fractured relationship between a mother and son.

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