Andrew Torr


A new movie by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy is drawing on community creativity to add the finishing touches to its first ever animated feature.

Richard II” was shot during last year’s school summer holidays with The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy’s (BYFA) creative mix of students and professionals from the world of film and education.

Now in post-production, the movie is undergoing BYFA’s new special visual affects treatment which converts live-action into realistic animation. Read more Submit your brush-stroke for Co-Op BYFA's crowd-animated Richard II

It started with 28 men in Rochdale in 1844. Now there are over a billion members of co-operatives worldwide - with combined turnover each year in the UK alone of £33bn. A new film from the British Youth Film Academy, funded by the Co-Operative Group will tell how it all began. Filmed in the Greater Manchester area as part of The Co-operative’s activities to highlight this year as the International Year of Co-operatives, the 52-minute feature tells the story of - and gains its working-title from - ‘The Rochdale Pioneers’ and their vision for a better social order which established the co-operative movement.

Actor John Henshaw plays the role of John Holt, one of the original members of The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, in the film. Well known for roles in Early Doors, Born and Bred, Looking for Eric and Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, John Henshaw said: “I am delighted to be involved with "The Rochdale Pioneers”. It’s a brilliant initiative, BYFA brings together talented people from all backgrounds and all levels of skill to work hard together to make film - it’s good fun, a pleasure to work on, I am really enjoying it. The application, dedication and professional standards is inspiring and, it bodes well for the British Film Industry that the wealth of talent out there is being supported, encouraged and nurtured by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy.”

British Youth Film AcademyThe new film is inspired by the 1944 film ‘Men of Rochdale’. It is funded by The Co-operative Group – the UK’s largest mutual business – and is being filmed and produced by The Co-operative's British Youth Film Academy. The co-directors of the new film, Adam Lee Hamilton and John Montegrande, along with its producer, Kevin Atkinson, worked together on the BYFA movie ‘Julius Caesar’ which was selected for the international Raindance Film Festival in London, October 2011. Kevin Atkinson, Operations Director of The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy and producer for the new film, commented: “Through the medium of film, we are bringing the spirit, heart and belief of the original pioneers to a brand new audience.”

The original 28 ‘Pioneers’ were all working men. After a year of trading (1845) membership had increased to 74 and total takings for the year reached £710. Soon the Pioneers’ fame spread overseas and today, there are one billion members of co-operatives worldwide and, in the UK alone combined sector turnover exceeds £33 Billion. Mark Robinson-Field, The Co-operative’s National Co-operative and Membership Manager, said: “Over 160 years-ago the original Rochdale pioneers set out the ideals which became the basis for the principles on which co-operatives around the world still operate to this day. 

“Now, with one billion members of co-operatives world-wide and a thriving co-operative sector enjoying international attention, we believed the time was right for this inspirational story to be re-told.” The film will be distributed internationally and plans are in place for it to be screened at the co-operative world festival and expo at Manchester Central in autumn 2012. To follow the progress of the film or for more information visit www.co-operative.coop/2012

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.

Read more Creative colleges co-op collaborate on slate of features

Are you made of the ‘write’ stuff? a youth film academy has started its search for screenplays to be made into full length feature films next year.

The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy gives 14-25 year-olds unique experiences of the movie industry and is seeking new scripts or, screenplays of classics, for next summer’s filming schedule.

It is backed by The Co-operative Group as part of its commitment to inspiring young people and, this year, it shot four movies at film-making summer camps which combine professionals from film and education to mentor students and offer everything from acting to make-up and camera through to post-production.

Read more Co-op Youth Film Academy Searches for Scripts from Budding Young Film Writers

A professional youth film company that has worked with over 10,000 young people in the past year has received a massive boost with The Co-operative Group announcing its continued support and funding until at least 2014.

Forming an integral part of its commitment to Inspiring Young People, The Co-operative’s £1.2 million, six year, partnership with The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy (BYFA) is helping to create the UK’s most accessible youth film making academy.

With eight films in the can and, a further four planned for 2011, students are mentored by professionals from both the film industry and education and offered everything from acting to make-up, wardrobe to camera and, post production through to the red-carpet experience.


Read more The Co-Op increases funding for British Youth Film Academy


A professional youth film company is searching for young movie-making talent for its latest full-length feature-films to be made in four UK regions during this year’s summer holidays. The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy (BYFA) is holding auditions for the cast and crew of its latest films, offering young people the chance to experience the thrills and challenges of professional feature-film production.

The Co-operative Group’s £500,000 support for BYFA - part of its commitment to Inspiring Young People – this year, enables BYFA to offer more students a chance to experience the many aspects of film-making.

Embarking on its ‘epic’ challenge to simultaneously make four full-length feature films, in four UK regions - East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North West - during this year’s school summer holidays, BYFA offers a unique educational opportunity for hundreds of young people - giving 14-25 year-olds, with an eye on a career in film, the chance to showcase their creativity and see their work on the silver-screen.

Todd Carty (left), well known for roles in Eastenders and The Bill, has been involved in three BYFA productions and is a supporter of the Academy, he said: “It is a terrific experience. I have loved every minute of it and the energy of the young people is fantastic. It is extremely inspiring to work with a group of such motivated individuals and the positive impact on all who participate is clear to see.”

Students are supported by mentors from the film industry and education and offered everything from acting to make-up, wardrobe to camera and, from post production through to the red carpet experience. Read more Co-op puts £500k in Youth Film Academy to make features with 14-25 year-olds