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Life through the lens: Alice, ancient myth and Korean bibimbap


Film and TV production students Ellis Wilson on set

Supporting the UUK’s Creative Sparks #MadeAtUni campaign

The University of Bradford is proud to support Universities UK’s Creative Sparks #MadeAtUni campaign, which aims to highlight the importance of arts, music, film and video games, and their beneficial effect on society.

The campaign aims to celebrate the immense contribution of UK universities to the nation’s creative excellence, which is helping the country recover from the pandemic.

Here, we look at five projects by Film and TV Production students.

A Wastelander’s Survival Guide by Cat Dobson

Post-apocalyptic films have enjoyed something of a renaissance of late, with hits like Don’t Look Up and Greenland proving there is definitely an audience for stories that look at ‘what would happen if…’

One University of Bradford student has taken inspiration from the console gaming franchise Fallout to craft a short film about one man’s struggle in a dystopian world.

Final year Film and TV Production student Cat Dobson is writer, director, producer, cinematographer, make-up artist, location scout, editor and… pretty much everything else, on her 14-minute foray into a post-societal world, where survival is an everyday struggle. She is even generating her own CGI effects.

“I had lots of help from friends, including the sound and I have friends who have acted in the film. Creatively, it has been very rewarding and I am passionate about the subject matter. I have played the Fallout series for years, so it was interesting to be able to explore a different aspect of that world.”

Her opus follows an unnamed protagonist as he ventures through a ruined landscape, the locations for which were scouted locally, including Bramley Fall Woods in Leeds.

Cat said: “This is something I want to do as a career, so it has been very rewarding in terms of putting everything I have learned at university into practice. Before I came to Bradford, I had planned to study drama but I opted for film and TV after speaking to the tutors at an open day.”

Her film, The Wastelander’s Survival Guide, forms part of her final year project and may be submitted to local film festivals once complete.

The Torch by Ellis Wilson

Ellis Wilson’s short film is called The Torch and introduces us to a mythical world of elves, dwarves and goblins, and follows lead character, Quinn, as he searches for his master.

Ellis, who was the main actor in fellow-student Cat Dobson’s The Wastelander’s Survival Guide, and who ultimately wants to be an actor, says of his 12-minute video: “It’s a monumental task to make any kind of video, to get all the sound recorded, all the effects done, to complete the editing process and so on - but it’s very rewarding once you have done it.

“When you are acting, you not only have to know the script and all the acting needed, you also have to make it believable, to bring the audience as close as possible to the experience. I remember once having had all the make-up done - I looked like I’d been in a fight, with cuts and bruises -  we had to walk through town to meet another actor, so that drew some odd looks.”

His film was shot on locations including the Old White Bear pub near Halifax and Esholt Woods.

He adds: “We’ve all had lots of help on our projects but technically, this shows what film and TV studies students are capable of producing with little or no budget.”

Ophelie by Josiah Eames

Delving into the world of ancient myth and legend, final year student Josiah Eames has crafted a 15-minute re-telling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.

The Greek myth is a tragedy about loss and longing and follows the titular protagonists as one ventures into the underworld to save the other.

Josiah’s version, entitled Ophelie, is set in the modern day and - reflecting the lockdown experience - follows a house-bound Ophelie as she struggles with the loss of someone dear to her, battling depression, and eventually succumbing to temptation and journeying into the underworld.

Film and TV production student Josiah, who is due to start a Master’s in filmmaking at Bradford next year, explains: “I’ve always had an interest in ancient myth, and while this is not one of the best known, it is tender and tragic and I felt there was something more to be done with it.”

His work also seeks to challenge representation of sexual stereotypes.

“In the original myth, Orpheus is a man who journeys to the underworld to try and rescue Eurydice. He makes a ‘deal with the devil’, who grants his wish but says on his way out of Hades, he must not look back - but when he gets to the final stage, he does look back, and so loses his love forever.

“In my version, we have swapped Orpheus for Ophelie, so it’s a lesbian relationship but not one that is over-exploited, because I think at present, while gay men are often portrayed in this way in the media, female same-sex relationships are often hyper-sexualised. I also changed Hades for Persiphone, who in older Greek myths is in charge of the underworld.”

He adds: “In terms of how the project developed, it did change as a result of lockdown. I think the fact the main character is mostly in her house is in part a reflection of what was happening in the real world. For audiences, I also think it’s important to challenge the ‘preconceived white male narrative’, it’s good to explore new ideas.

“Ultimately, this is a tale about loss, about the fact that tragic things happen in life but it’s important for us to carry on.”

Josiah plans to show his film at a festival in November and submit it to others in the US.

Alice by Sofi Clark

Sofia Clark’s work, Alice, is a labour of love which explores her own journey through self-discovery and gender identity.

It takes the form of a dialogue between a future version of herself and a present-day version, exploring a collision of feelings from angst and fear to confidence and joy.

“It’s about acceptance,” explains Sofi, currently in the final year of a Film and TV Production degree. “It is essentially an argument with myself, between a version of me who is reluctant to do certain things and another version who is confident, part of which comes down to other people’s perceptions of me in the world, and my perception of those perceptions.

“The process has been difficult because over the last year, I have become more confident in who I am - I have moved away from the stereotype of the character ‘Alice’, as confused and scared - so to then have to get back into that mindset has at times been painful. I think the film could help others who are on a similar journey to understand their emotions, and what they need to do.”

Sofi came up with the concept while gardening and listening to the Arctic Monkeys.

“Alice in Wonderland is something that has been with me for so long, but it was while listening to the Arctic Monkeys’ first album - which is all about being confused, going out to bars for the first time and things like that - that I saw the similarities between the two, and also my own journey.”

She adds: “I’ve always thought Alice in Wonderland is a great jumping off point for other ideas and aesthetics, and in a way I think the best part of it is not the story itself but other people’s interpretations of it - and perceptions and interpretations is what my film is all about.”

People eating Korean rice dish bibimbap

Korean bibimbap by Dong Jo Kim

Dong Jo Kim, originally from South Korea, has completed a 25-minute documentary about one of his native dishes, known as bibimbap, a rice bowl topped with seasoned vegetables and marinated meats, which he says is not widely known in the UK.

He says: “I want to show people how different the dish is and how healthy it is. It’s common in Korea but is not well known here. It’s cheap and easy to make.  In the film we try the dishes out on people who have never had Korean food before and they liked it.”

The final year student says he would like to go on to become a TV producer.