Burton hops along with Film and Beer Festival preparations

An inaugural Burton film festival which aims to shine a spotlight on budding local talent has attracted more than 500 entries from across the UK – but the closing date for the competition is approaching fast.

Marston’s Brewery, in partnership with Burton and South Derbyshire College, is celebrating its 180 years’ association with Burton by hosting the Beer Town Festival.

The festival, which aims to become an annual event, provides an opportunity for people as young as 16-years-old to create a short film. Prizes are of up to £2,500 are up for grabs for the best pieces.

It will culminate in a major outdoor cinema, beer and food festival event to be held at Marston’s Brewery, on Saturday, May 26. There is now less than a month until the closing date for entries of March 31.

Launched in September last year, the film festival is backed by Burton’s own homegrown talent, Hollywood visual effects producer Rich Yeomans and Swadlincote film maker and award-winning screen writer, Deborah Haywood.

There are four categories for people to enter; best fiction short; best documentary short; best advertising or promotional film and best animated.

A fifth prize will be awarded by judges for the best film created by ‘home-grown’ talent for contestants who live within a 20-mile radius of Burton.

There will also be the People’s Choice award, which will be voted for by Burton Mail readers. Winners in each category will receive a prize of £500. The overall winner will receive a £1,000 cash prize.

Entrants so far are made up of 51 per cent students, 33 per cent first time filmmakers with just 22 per cent from women.

The highest number of entries are for the Best Fiction Short Film with 75 per cent, followed by Best Documentary Short at 12 per cent, Best Animated Short at seven per cent and Best Promo, Music and Advertising film at six per cent.

Entries have come from as far afield as Inverness, Falmouth, Swansea and Hull and six per cent of the entries are by homegrown film makers.

The highest age group for entrants is from 20 to 24-year-olds, with 35 per cent – just two per cent are from over-60s.

Men have made the longest films at an average of seven minutes 43 seconds, while the average length of the films from women are six minutes and 37 seconds. The shortest entry is just 38 seconds.

Jo Wyke, from Marston’s Brewery, said: “We are thrilled with the number of entries that we have attracted to date but would definitely like more women and home-grown talent to give it a go – there is still time.

“A talented home-grown film maker has the chance to win up to £2,500 in prize money – as well as the recognition for their skills.

“These days with smartphone technology anyone can make short films – we’re not looking for Hollywood-budget epics or high tech visual effects, we want to see creativity in ideas, attention-grabbing storytelling or fascinating documentaries.”

Patron and judge Deborah Haywood, who is currently promoting her debut feature film Pin Cushion, starring Lily Newmark and Joanna Scanlan, said she was surprised at the low level of entries from women.

She said: “One of the reasons I’m proud to be involved in Beer Town Film Festival is that I’m hoping local females will get to see that women can make films and it will encourage them to make films themselves. There’s a phrase that’s circulating at the minute, ‘if you can see it you can be it’.

“And all these wonderful female directors are putting pictures of themselves online with the hope it will inspire and demonstrate that the film industry isn’t necessarily a male industry.”

Audiences will be able to see clips of the finalists’ films and hear the winners being announced before enjoying a feature film in the surroundings of the famous Victorian brewery.

For those who wish to enter, Beer Town Film Festival is for film makers of 16 years of age and over, who can enter one or more of four different film categories (and the home-grown category if they are eligible) until March 31 via the Beer Town website at beertownfilmfestival.co.uk

The categories are:

  • Best fiction short (15 minutes max)
  • Best documentary short (15 minutes max)
  • Best advertising or promotional film (10 minutes max)
  • Best animated (10 minutes max)
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