Oxford’s film scene to benefit from kickstarter project

A kickstarter funding project is now running for Waterbird and Catkins, two short films supported by the Oxford Broadcasting Association (OBA), with a view to sending the Oxford-made films to festivals around the world.

It is hoped that the films, shot over five days during the summer, will follow the success of The Wishing Horse, which received ‘Best London Film’ at the Portobello film festival in September. The achievement of The Wishing Horse signified the meteoric rise of Oxford’s film scene over the past year and a half. 

Having raised £700 already since the start of the program two weeks ago, the project’s founders — director Alex Darby and producer Ksenia Harwood — are well on their way to their target of £800. They hope that this money will enable them to submit Waterbird and Catkins to various film festivals around the world.

While production costs were covered by arts funding bodies, the cost of submitting each film to a festival is between £20 and £30, paid through either submission fees or the cost of making and posting DVDs, depending on the festival.

Inspired by a short story by Russian author Turgenev, Catkins follows Mark — played by British actor Mark Tandy (Howards End, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) — who escapes from London to reflect on his rocky marriage. Waterbird, meanwhile, tells the story of Tom (James Corrigan, soon to join the RSC), a former student whose conscience has been marred by a tragic accident.

Speaking to Cherwell, writer/director Alex Darby explained that, after The Wishing Horse showed what could be achieved, the OBA was happy to invest into making Waterbird and Catkins as good as they can possibly be, with the team even travelling abroad to Paris for the films’ sound mixes. 

He said, “We want to be consistently making films of a good level for students, and that’s why we’ve put a lot of effort into post production.

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“It’s exciting to see that more and more films are doing the same, which makes for really good and impressive work, as was evident in November’s OBA screening.”

He added, “Unfortunately, money is a problem with what we’re trying to achieve. It makes so much difference having access to £500-£1000 funding when you’re starting on a film.”

Darby, who received acclaim for the success of The Wishing Horse and wrote four plays before turning to short films, explained, “I think a lot of people don’t realise the difference between acting on stage and on film. There’s sadly far less rehearsal time, and, for instance, there’s a very different kind of humour required for film compared to on stage. It’s really useful for student actors to try film!”

Darby and Ksenia Harwood, producer of the two films, want to ensure that the OBA builds on its early success once they and other students involved with the recent projects finish studying at Oxford. Harwood explained, “We definitely want alumni to stay involved with these projects. It’s important to maintain a sense of  community between current students and alumni, ensuring that the future generations have advice whenever they need it. 

“We want to make sure that filmmakers can still use some of the Oxford resources when they leave — there are no JCRs to give grants to alumni and it makes things so much harder!”

Harwood also hoped that OBA would provide a framework for filmmakers to be able to share scripts and give one another feedback, ensuring that the hard work and achievement put into their latest films is passed on to future generations of Oxford students.

The kickstarter project will be funded if at least £800 is pledged by Tuesday 23 December.