Creative colleges co-op collaborate on slate of features

Five new films made by members of the Co-operative British Youth Film Academy have been showcased to 500 students at a red carpet screening in Manchester. A co-operative of twenty colleges and universities, The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy combines professions from the worlds of film and education to give young people unique opportunities to gain hands-on experience of the thrills and challenges of a real film set.

It is backed by The Co-operative as part of its commitment to inspiring young people and, is designed to bridge the gap between education and professional employability, offering accessible opportunities for young talent to be nurtured and developed.

Last year, The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy (BYFA) movie "The Rochdale Pioneers" – co-directed by film-makers Adam Lee Hamilton and John Montegrande who came through BYFA's ranks – was screened on Film4 as part of the channel's British Connection Season. 

The new films, which were given a red carpet screening last month in city-centre Manchester, were filmed at movie making summer camps based at member colleges: Grimsby Institute; Kirklees College; Stoke on Trent College; Wigan and Leigh College and Yale College, Wrexham.


Andrea Neild, manager of Wigan School for the Arts, said: "BYFA gives students fantastic opportunities to experience the film world and to work alongside industry professionals – it really is a unique opportunity for personal development." Film-maker Adam Lee Hamilton, added: "It is an amazing platform for young talent and to see the film on the silver-screen is a proud moment, not least because it showcases the skills and achievements of the young people involved in all parts of the film making process." 

The films on show at The Printworks, Manchester, are now having final touches applied to them by the film-makers before decisions about further screenings, distribution and entry into film festivals are taken.

The new films are Richard II, a movie shot in and around Grimsby by director John Montegrande and described as a spectacular and surreal animated fantasy that breathes vivid new life into Shakespeare's classic tale of redemption and damnation. 

Olivia Twist, which was made at the Burslem Campus of Stoke on Trent College by director and writer Arno Hazebroek, is a contemporary adaptation that stays true to the gritty tone and social commentary of Charles Dickens' classic novel. A further 'twist' was provided by Lucinda Hawksley, the great, great, great, grand-daughter of Dickens who joined students during filming to deliver workshops, talks, insight and, a cameo appearance in the film! 

The Last British Execution was directed by former Wigan and Leigh College student, Iain Cash and is described as a dark, gritty comedy showing how popular culture revolves around reality television. Students were joined by actor John Henshaw, known for roles in Looking for Eric; Early Doors and Born and Bred, while Lauren Carre, a Big Brother housemate in 2012 and, members of Wigan Little Theatre also took part in the filming.

Faust's Growth was based at Kirklees College's Batley School of Art, Dewsbury. The 85 minute film was shot by movie-makers John Eyre and Robin Heep who have been involved in a number of films with The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy including providing production design and art direction for The Rochdale Pioneers. Their new film is a re-imagining of the classic play Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. 

Finally, Friends of Money – described as a tale of murder and power that pays homage to the detective thrillers of the 1940's – became the first film by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy to have been based in Wales. It was directed by film-maker Adam Lee Hamilton and also starred former Brookside and Prime Suspect actor John McArdle who shared his experiences with students at scenes shot at Brynkinalt Hall, Chirk. 

Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative's head of community and co-operative investment, concluded: "When opportunities, passion and enthusiasm collide it is truly life changing and inspirational - exactly the kind of exciting environment that BYFA creates."

Students or colleges wanting further information about getting involved with BYFA should visit