BFI NETWORK South West is pleased to announce the 10 participants of the inaugural Shorts2Features career-development scheme.
We were so impressed by the high number of entries and the quality of the talent in our region and want to thank all those who took the time to apply – we’ll be looking out for your names when the next round of BFI NETWORK funding opens in 2023.
How did we find our final 10? The BFI NETWORK South West Talent Executives enlisted the help of two external assessors from the industry to help with the shortlisting and interview process, which measured applicants against set criteria in order to find the widest range of voices, visions and ambitions.
Across the next six months, we’ll be working with the five producers and five directors below to try and make those ambitions a reality, and put these rising stars on the UK film and TV industry radar.
Tom Berkeley (Gloucestershire)
Tom is a writer-director from Gloucester and one half a filmmaking partnership alongside Belfast-based writer-director Ross White. Having originally trained as actors, the pair turned their focus to co-writing and directing for screen in 2019. Their debut short Roy premiered at the Academy Award® qualifying Santa Barbara International Film Festival and went on to be one of 10 films longlisted for Best British Short at the 75th BAFTA Awards.
Their second collaboration, An Irish Goodbye, was filmed in rural Northern Ireland in 2021. Currently on festival release, it recently won the European Audience Award at the Oscar® qualifying Leuven Film Festival in Belgium, and the Jury Prize for Best Comedy at the Oscar® qualifying Indy Shorts.
Drawn to stories that exist in the space between comedy and tragedy, Tom hopes to bring an element of theatre and style to a portfolio that will hopefully span and subvert many genres.
Our most recent short ‘An Irish Goodbye’ was a huge leap in terms of narrative scope and ambition. I’m really proud we managed to pull it off and that the film has resonated so well during its film festival circuit.
Xenia Glen (Dorset)
In 2017 Xenia won the Film and TV Charity’s John Brabourne Award to support her filmmaker collective, Sleepwalker, through which she has produced five films. In 2020 Xenia made her directorial debut with Sew, a documentary about a Filipino mail-order bride, and in 2021 directed Backbone, a BBC and Arts Council England commission that was broadcast on BBC3. Backbone is about a Filipino-British teenager who struggles to hide her scoliosis brace in an attempt to appear ‘normal’.
In 2022 Xenia directed My Filipino, a documentary about exploited overseas Filipino workers. Xenia is in post-production on her BFI NETWORK short film, which is a proof-of-concept for her debut feature that has been selected for the BFI NETWORK Early Development Fund.
Based on true stories, my upcoming BFI NETWORK short film is a dark look into the UK’s flawed immigration system, shown through the overseas Filipino worker experience; I am most proud of this film because of how the cast and crew worked together to create a world on screen that accurately portrays this experience.
Carolina Petro (Bristol)
Originally from Colombia, Carolina is a filmmaker working between Bristol and London. Her films have been screened at festivals worldwide, winning awards such as the ‘Best of British’ at Encounters Film Festival. Her latest short, Sweet Little Despair (supported by BFI NETWORK), premiered at Underwire, followed by screenings at Encounters, Bolton and Norwich film festivals this year.
She received the Early Development fund from BFI NETWORK to write her first feature treatment set in Colombia and is currently developing this film. The script has been shortlisted for the Sundance Development Track 2023.
Carolina’s work has focused on depicting female characters at different stages of life. Navigating societal expectations, personal flaws and moral decisions, she aspires to capture the specific complexity of these moments with a unique perspective.
Having completed the first draft of my feature film, I hope to continue discussing and developing the script. I am also interested in guidance on achieving a co-production between the UK and Colombia.
Em Smith (Bristol)
Em lives in Bristol and is Lead Acting Tutor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Supported by the BFI Network, she recently directed Rapture, starring Lydia Page, Jessica Hynes and Siobhan Finneran. Her short Voce has played widely in festivals including Foyle, Cambridge, Rhode Island and Austin.
Last year she was John Crowley’s assistant on Life After Life (BBC) and was selected for the Clore Emerging Leaders Programme. With a background in factual television and theatre making, she has collaborated across the South West with companies including Bristol Old Vic, Travelling Light and Kneehigh.
Em has a BA in English from Bristol University and an MA in Directing Fiction at the NFTS, sponsored by Channel 4 and the David Lean Foundation. Approaching both life and filmmaking with a cocktail of mischief, romance and hope, she’s drawn to stories that crack open what it is to love against the odds.
Two of my favourite directors are Andrea Arnold for the throbbing heartbeat in her films and Celine Sciamma, who shines a tender light on her character’s worlds.
Owain Astles (Bristol)
Owain is a director and participatory filmmaker based in Bristol. Owain’s passions lie in the power of film for social impact. His work has spanned documentary, drama and experimental film, and always comes from a place of collaboration, working with communities to tell stories and make films through participation.
Most recently, Owain worked as a participatory filmmaker for Inside Job Productions, working with male prisoners to co-create films. Owain’s other directing experience includes Sleeping Rough, a docudrama about street homelessness; To My Younger Self, a BBC Arts-commissioned short about solitary confinement; and The Hardest Fight of My Life, a docudrama about boxing as a coping mechanism for depression.
Owain is a member of BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew and has taken part in programmes including Encounters Film Festival’s Widening the Lens, BFI NETWORK New Writers Lab and BBC Arts’ New Creatives.
More than a skill, I’m most excited to meet the other participants on the scheme. I think the people you’re surrounded by are your biggest influences so building my network is what I’m most excited to do.
Arnold Voysey (Hampshire)
Arnold Voysey has recently produced the short films Rushed from writer-director Nadine O’Mahony and Malison from writer-director Carl Shanahan. He founded the production company Uncut Artist, where his ambition is to support the uncut voice and vision of talented writers and directors across the UK.
Last year he was selected for the Creative Producers Lab run by BFI NETWORK South West, Film Hub South West and Bristol Screen Producers. In 2020 he gained a Directing Commercials diploma from the NFTS, where he directed and produced commercials for Cineworld, Bremont and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.
As a producer, Arnold is passionate about doing everything to protect the creative voice and vision of the writers and directors he works with to support them in telling their authentic stories.
I recently produced the short film ‘Rushed’ from writer-director Nadine O’Mahony. It was a fantastic experience to work with such a talented, creative and ambitious cast and crew, and to shoot at lots of locations across the city of Birmingham.
Chuckie McEwan (Hampshire)
Chuckie McEwan is an award-winning producer based in Hampshire with 14 years’ experience in commercial video and short film. Since 2020, she has produced a slate of shorts that are currently on the film festival circuit, with selections including the BFI London Film Festival and Aesthetica. These films are O, GLORY! co-directed by Charlie Edwards-Moss and Joe Williams, Spinning directed by Sam Spruell, Outdoors directed by John Fitzpatrick, and Margin directed by Daniel Rands.
Chuckie has lectured at University of the Arts, London, and delivers short courses and community workshops for varied age groups. The principle underpinning of her work is a commitment to creating routes for industry access and expanding filmic dialogues.
Chuckie co-runs Grey Moth, a production company that bridges the gap between grassroots talent and commercial video production. Grey Moth allocates their profits to funding and facilitating original films and amplifying emerging voices.
O, GLORY! was a particularly ambitious project, set in the 1970’s and shot on 35mm. Production was made even more challenging by 18 months of delays due to COVID19; the project took four years in total to complete.
Lowri Roberts (Bath)
Lowri Roberts is a BAFTA Cymru-winning producer from North Wales, now based in Somerset. Her short films have screened at the BFI London Film Festival, Encounters, Aesthetica, London Short Film Festival, Leeds and Edinburgh, been broadcast on BBC4, and have been supported by C4 Random Acts, BBC Arts and Arts Council England.
Lowri has a feature in early development with BFI NETWORK, another one with Ffilm Cymru, as well as three features and a TV series in development through her production company, Rapt, which she co-founded with producing partner Maisie Williams.
Lowri is also a host on the Frank Film Club podcast and her passion is in telling character-driven stories and championing filmmakers and stories from underrepresented backgrounds.
I’m most proud of Girl because I’d never felt so engrossed in the filmmaking process until making that and I absolutely loved it. Then when it did so well in festivals and received some fantastic awards it gave me the confidence to continue making films independently.
Giada Mazzoleni (Gloucestershire)
Giada is an Italian born producer, BFI NETWORK x BAFTA crew, Biennale Cinema College and EUROPEAN Genre Forum alumnus, based in Cheltenham. Giada has strong expertise in low and medium-budget productions, and is founder of award-winning production company Paguro Film.
Before moving to the UK, Giada worked for the main studios and indie companies in Milan such as THINKCATTLEYA, Fremantle, and Disney (taking part in the Campari campaign directed by Matteo Garrone, starring Ana De Armas). She produced Moths to Flame, a silver-ribbon awarded short and winner of Studio Universal prize at Alice Nella Città in Rome, and Fulci for Fake, a feature hybrid doc that was in competition at Venice Film Festival 2019 and sold worldwide.
Paguro’s slate is around elevated genre projects and IP about diversity, disability, and female stories.
I am very excited to be able to participate in a scheme like Shorts2Features. I hope the program will offer me a greater awareness of the opportunities in the sector, and help me to apply new strategies to my working method.
Jess Bartlett (Gloucestershire)
Jess Bartlett is an award-winning writer-producer based in Cheltenham who graduated with first class honours in Film Production. She has produced many short films, including two BBC Arts and Arts Council England funded projects, one of which is on BBC iPlayer.
She has also written and produced multiple award-winning horror shorts including Time Out (2020), which went viral with over 30+ million views. In 2021 Jess earned her first professional writing credit on TV series The Haunted Museum, which aired on Discovery+, and has most recently written on new horror series Urban Legend.
Jess is currently developing her debut feature film under her production company Terror Arcade and is eager to tell magical, larger-than-life stories as well as champion the voices of underrepresented filmmakers.
Easily Steven Spielberg – his ability to capture the extraordinary through his storytelling is a thing of magic; his filmmaking will always influence my work.
BFI NETWORK South West, Encounters Film Festival, Bristol City Of Film, Nuts Cymru Wales, and Watershed
BFI NETWORK South West presents a series of talks and screenings to inspire and celebrate regional filmmakers as part of this year the 28th edition of Encounters Film Festival.
The next National Lottery Open Week will take place from Saturday 9 – Sunday 17 March 2024.
As part of the BFI Sustainable Screen Programme, Julie’s Bicycle is running a webinar for organisations working in the screen sector ‘beyond production’.