A day at the Into Film Awards

17 Mar 2016 BY Lee McCowen

5 mins
Into Film Awards 2016 auditorium
Into Film Awards 2016 auditorium

It's the day of the 2016 Into Film Awards, and as we sit on the train headed for King's Cross I'm given time to reflect on how we ended up here, as one of only 3 clubs nominated for the ‘Club of the Year Award' for over 13s.

We started small, as many great endeavours do; a place for students to watch and discuss films in a relaxed environment, away from the pressure of exam results and progress scores. One night a week, two hours only; watch, discuss, depart. However, It became clear very quickly that within this larger group of students was a focused core, a nucleus of excitement and ambition that we could build around the only question was: what aspect of film should we put our energy into?

Ultimately, it was a short discussion, my background in teaching film and television production at the College of West Anglia meant I had lots of ideas for the kinds of projects we could create and once the students heard them nothing but film making would do.

Having cut their teeth making a 30 second advert for a fictional product, I pitched an idea for a screenplay to the group - an idea that would go on to become our first feature The Spying Game.

Made with borrowed equipment and a £35 budget, The Spying Game showed that our members could deliver on the promise of short narrative productions. Hungry for more, we set about making a much longer, much more ambitious film, a superhero comedy entitled Too Cool to Kickass.

Too Cool set the mould for our way of working: financed through Kickstarter, filmed on campus using an HD camera during what were now three hour sessions, scheduling extra shoots during the holidays, using both staff and student actors, editing into the wee hours and proudly premiered to a packed audience here at King's Lynn Academy.

In our third year we decided to leave our comedy comfort zone and create enough short horror films that we could hold our own Halloween film festival, Fear Fest. After working through even more holidays than before we were proud to welcome the public to our horror film festival with 6 shorts featuring interrogations, murderers, zombies and more. In addition to the films on display, the entire South Wing of the academy building was decorated with ghouls and various other nasties. We had some great feedback on the event, including that one visitor had a nightmare as a result of one of our jump scares!

Finally, Too Cool 2 Kickass: The Fall of Captain Obvious, our magnum opus and the film that cemented our nomination. Feature length (at seventy three minutes) and chock full of the types of gags and references that have come to epitomize our filmmaking style, the return of Captain Obvious was a huge success and something we are immensely proud of.

Ultimately, on the day, the award went to Warrington Youth Club, an inspirational club that specialises in providing young people with disability a chance to engage with film in a safe and friendly atmosphere. I think it is a credit to our club and our members particularly, that on this exciting day for them, as they were watching the nominations, the two members sat either side of me tapped me on the arm and said "it should be them" as Warrington's story was told on the big screen.

As a final treat, we got to be in the same room as a genuine Oscar, probably for the first time in our members' lives, but hopefully not the last.

We may have narrowly missed out, pipped at the post, but as I look at our current crew - their enthusiasm not dampened by disappointment - remember our graduates and think of our club's journey, I can honestly say that it's been an incredible ride.  

Lee McCowen author picture

Lee McCowen, King's Lynn Academy

Lee has been running KLA FilmClub for 5 years. In that time they have made nine films, including one feature, and been nominated for Into Film Club of the year

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