Four years after UNESCO designated Bradford its first City of Film, the city’s first film school opened in Bradford College.
A collaboration between the college and the Whistling Woods International Film School in India, the Bradford Whistling Woods International Film School has 168 students and ten staff.
They do their work in a suite of rooms in the Old Building, off Carlton Street, across the road from the former Bradford College of Art where David Hockney studied in the mid-1950s.
Whistling Woods in Mumbai offers courses in acting, animation, cinematography, direction, editing, producing, screenwriting, sound recording and design and media management.
Complementing this range, the Film School in Bradford, which opened in September 2013, offers degrees in film, animation and photography and the opportunity to study the Indian film industry on the Whistling Woods campus in Mumbai.
To celebrate its first year, tonight the school is hosting the Persistence of Vision celebration and exhibition.
The show highlights student work from both further and higher education, including a promotional video used in a national campaign by the Alzheimer’s Society, photography from students studying across a broad range of courses which includes the work of Mansong Dambell, food photographer, and Wasim Latif, who specialises in automotive imagery.
Trevor Griffiths, director of the Film School, said: “It’s a pleasure and a privilege to exhibit such an exceptional body of student work.
“Our students have produced work to a high commercial standard. It’s fitting we exhibit this work as part of our first year celebrations.
“We would like to thank students, staff, partners, sponsors and supporters for their part in a successful first year.
“We are extremely proud that in our first year we have not only attracted some of the world’s leading software and camera manufacturers to support the school but the school has also supported worthy causes.
“We are proud that students have raised funds for Macmillan Cancer Care through The Parallax Point Exhibition and the Rotary River Air Challenge for Aquabox, providing clean water in disaster- struck areas.” Since its formation, the Film School has been supported by leading industry vendors that include Black Magic, Ilford, Red, Phase One, Sony, Final Draft and Entertaining Partners.
Its aspiration, dedication and industry focus is reflected in the work it has undertaken with David Wilson, director of Bradford City of Film, the Maltese-based media company Timecode, the Association of Colleges, the University of Malta, Christa Ackroyd and the BBC.
During the last year, Film School students have taken part in various productions, including DCI Banks, the ITV detective series starring Stephen Tomkinson; The Syndicate, the comedy drama by Kay Mellor for BBC 1, and Bollywood Carmen, the modern take on Bizet’s opera Carmen that was filmed live for BBC3 in Bradford’s City Park.
In addition to hosting the Parallax Point, a fundraising exhibition for Macmillan Cancer, students made a significant contribution to the 12 Frames film, which premiered in Malta.
Commenting on his time at Bradford-WWI Film School, Mansong said: “I’m really pleased I have successfully completed the BA (Hons) in photography. It has changed my life.
“When I started the degree my goal was to build a strong and creative portfolio. The facilities and tutor support have enabled me to achieve my goal.
“I’m now ready to establish myself as a commercial photographer and look forward to gaining industry experience at Bsmart Stockholm.” Wasim Latif said: “The degree has made me into the photographer I am today. I knew I could be good but didn’t expect to achieve this standard so soon.
“It’s all down to hard work, great facilities and empowering support from tutors. My next step is to establish myself as a professional photographer, specialising in car photography.”
Earlier this year leading Bollywood animator Dhanannjay Khore spent two weeks at the Film School, giving experimental animation classes and one-to-one sessions with film students.
During the fortnight he talked about his own rise from fine-art graduate to a world-rated animator, emphasising the importance of drawing skills and technical competence with animation equipment.
To all students with the hope of starting out in film animation he advised: “Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. And you have to have a real passion for animation.”
The National Media Museum’s 20th Film Animation Festival takes place this autumn, from November 17-22. The deadline for submissions to the six categories of awards, including one for students, is July 18.
When the Film School opened last year the message was ‘Think Film, Think Bradford’, an appropriate motto for a city where the first public showing of moving pictures reputedly took place at the People’s Palace during Easter week in 1896; a city which had film studios in Frizinghall and on Manchester Road the film studios of Captain Kettle.
Bradford has been a film location since cinema began. Many classics have been shot in and around the city – from Billy Liar and Room at the Top in the early 1960s; The Railway Children, Yanks and The Dresser in the 1970s and 1980s and Rita, Sue and Bob Too in the 1990s and, most recently, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant.
This is not just the city of numerous actors, actresses and writers – it is also the city of Academy Award winners. Between them Simon Beaufoy, James Hill and Tony Richardson won four of them.
Before Bradford Whistling Woods International Film School opened last year Subhash Ghat, founder and chairman of Whistling Woods in Mumbai – rated among the ten best film schools in the world by The Hollywood Reporter – said: “I am sure this partnership will benefit all of us.”
The Persistence of Vision Celebration and Exhibition takes place tonight from 5pm to 8pm in the Old Building. All are welcome. It will run for two weeks. School groups can view by appointment.