A Regent's student production has won Best Comedy Short Film at this year's Screen Power Film Festival.
The film, 'Fred & Kev and the 10 Step Steegan' was written by Ben Ford and directed by Maximus Hugo, who both graduated from BA (Hons) Film & Screen (Screenwriting & Producing) in 2019.
This award comes after the film was nominated for the Royal Television Society (RTS) Student Television Award for Best Comedy in March this year.
From script to screen
Max and Ben met in their first year at Regent's, where they quickly discovered their shared approach to filmmaking in a group project.
It was when they were on their study abroad period in Sydney that they truly cemented their creative partnership – and where the idea for the award-winning sitcom was born.
'We took a creative writing course together and started to develop our ideas. Then, when we returned to London, we turned our ideas into a pilot episode for television as part of our final film project at Regent's.
'Usually students produce films, but we were really drawn to television, so we created a proof of concept for that, and filmed it all in London.'
The short film follows two amateur skateboarders competing for a spot on a local team in the early 2000s.
It was important to the pair to be a historically accurate as possible, while still retaining the unique vernacular and cultural references of the skateboarding subculture.
'We wanted to strike a balance between the commercial and cultural, and create something that would appeal to people who didn't skate without seeming fake to the people who are in the know. We wanted to make it as authentic as possible,’ said Ben.
'To do that, we spent a lot of time speaking to people who were involved in the early 2000s skating scene here to make sure we got the language, slang and historical context correct,' he said.
Winning the award
'Winning the award really gratifies the hours and hours we spent filming, costuming, writing scripts and producing the film,’ said Max.
'Regent's was amazing. We'd like to thank everyone there who helped us, especially Mike Peel, Tristan Tull, Phil Hughes and Ted Wilkes – we learned so much from them. They were really great about getting us out of our comfort zones and into new areas that we hadn't explored before,’ he said.
'There was a group of us in our course who were really close, and when it came time to producing our final film, lots of people in the years below us were willing to pitch in and lend a hand. That was win-win – we got help for our production, and they gained some skills that they could use,’ he finished.
Max and Ben also thanked the media team, including Paul Roberts and Damien Kirstein, who helped them put together a complicated film kit. 'All our gear was supplied by the University. The media team know everything about every piece of kit. We went to them so many times with drafts for them to look over, or with requests to help us organise our work. They were hardworking and supportive – the cornerstone to our success.
One year on
In the year since graduating, Ben and Max have immersed themselves in the industry.
After graduating, Ben moved to Los Angeles and took a development internship at 20th Century Studios, where he read scripts and provided feedback for pilots. He also worked for CBS, did a stint on Fulwell 73 (co-run by James Corden), and worked with talent at the YouTube Streaming Awards, Critics' Choice Awards and at the Academy Awards.
Max has been working at home in order to save money to move to London. He has been producing small music videos, and worked as a freelancer on a science fiction feature film where he learned about lighting and shadowed the producer. Before lockdown set in, he was offered a job on another feature, which has unfortunately been put on hold.
Life in lockdown
Max is currently in lockdown on the Isle of Jersey, and Ben is in Los Angeles. Being in two different time zones means it's been a little trickier to collaborate, but the pair have worked out a solution to aid collaboration.
'It's hard to work in film and not stand next to each other, but it's quicker when we can jump on a video call together. That way, we can sit down and work together, rather than emailing drafts, or waiting for the other person to export a large video file. By working side by side on a video call, we can collaborate properly.
'Right now, we're working together on our first full series, and working on other projects on the side to keep our creative juices flowing,’ said Ben.
‘Eventually I'll move back to London, so we're pitching to places with international networks. Coronavirus makes it a bit difficult, but we'll get there,’ he finished.