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Short film dances its way to a TV trophy

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Published on 27 February 2023

Pro Vice-Chancellor Graeme Thompson
Pro Vice-Chancellor Graeme Thompson

Sunderland students have once again been recognised for their talents in film-making at a prestigious television awards ceremony on Tyneside.

The University’s students and graduates have maintained their winning streak at the Royal Television Society North East and the Border ceremony on Saturday night (February 25th), picking up the Best Entertainment for SU Dance Team in the Comedy and Entertainment category.

The four Film Production students - Susana Jacinto, Diana Zadilska, Vasileios Popotas and Leonardo Dos Santos, who graduated last July, made client videos as part of a module in their final year called High End Video Project.  On this module the students are required to find a client and create a promotional video for them.  The group made two videos, one for the University Dance Team and one for The Alchemist Bar in Newcastle.

Ian Mcpake, Senior Lecturer in Broadcast & Digital Media in the Faculty of Arts & Creative Industries, said: “The production group were well organised, motivated and very creative. They worked with the module brief and created an extremely professional video that displayed a high level of production skills. Congratulations to them all.”

The students’ achievements were celebrated alongside the cream of the region’s talent which included actor, presenter and producer Robson Green who was honoured with an Outstanding Contribution Award.

The 58-year-old Northumberland-based actor and star of Wire in the Blood, Granchester and Tales from Northumberland was described as a ‘tireless champion of TV production celebrating the North East of England’. In a long career, which has also seen him top the charts with his Soldier Soldier co-star Jerome Flynn, Robson has found success as both an actor and more recently as a presenter of factual shows such as Extreme Fishing. His latest series for BBC2 Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes was co-produced by his production company Rivers Meet Productions with ITV Signpost.

Accepting the award during a visit to Australia, he said: “This award means so much to me. As an actor I’ve helped tell stories. But as a presenter of documentaries I can be me. I’m so proud of the team behind this latest series of Weekend Escapes. It showcases the North East but also the behind the scenes talent.”

Awards chair and University of Sunderland’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Graeme Thompson, said: “There’s real momentum right now in the region’s screen and production sector. We received more than 100 entries for this year’s awards and that reflects the increase in film and tv content being made in this part of the UK. Broadcasters and commissioners are waking up to the unique appeal of the North East and Cumbria as locations to tell universal stories.

“New film and tv studios such as the ones that have just opened in Hartlepool and are planned for Sunderland, combined with commissioning spend and a new £12million production and skills fund are fuelling significant growth in the sector.” 

Other winners at the annual event, hosted by comedian and screenwriter Jason Cook, also a Sunderland graduate, included ITV’s Vera starring Brenda Blethyn (Best Drama) and CBBC’s long running saga The Dumping Ground (Best Children’s). Gateshead-born actor Justin McDonald won the Best Performance in a Drama prize for the short film Fist

A BBC4 documentary hosted by musician Sam Fender – Lindisfarne’s Geordie Genius (The Alan Hull Story) – picked up the award for Best Factual. And the Rising Star award went to Anna Costello, the former secondary school teacher who emerged from the BBC Writer’s Room with scripts including the comedy drama Dead Canny (UKTV). The Comedy and Entertainment prize was scooped by North East production company twentysix03 for Angels of the North (BBC3)

ITV Tyne Tees carried home four awards - Best News Programme, Best Presenter for Amy Lea, Best Sport for Simon O’Rourke while Gregg Easteal was awarded the Outstanding Journalism prize. University of Sunderland Pro-Chancellor Margaret Fay, presented the Best Presenter award on behalf of the University.

Jonathan Swingler of BBC North East carried off the award for Multi Skilled Broadcast Journalism. BBC cameraman Chris Middis snapped up the Photography award and freelance editor Mark Lediard won for Post Production. Theo Scott won the Animation prize for the BFI animated short Cuties.

Chief Executive of the Royal Television Society Theresa Wise presented the coveted Centre Award to the team behind the North East Screen Comedy Hot House – a unique comedy cooperative nurturing regional talent, both on and off screen.

The programme has already had a number of successes connecting comedy writing and performing talent with commissioners and producers. The recent BBC Comedy Festival was one of a series of events to showcase North East humour.

The work of student film-makers was celebrated with awards going to University of Sunderland (Best Entertainment for SU Dance Team), Newcastle University (Best Factual for To Challah on the Table), Northern School of Art (Best Drama for Boulder and Pebble), University of Cumbria (Best Environmental for Fox, Friend or Foe) and Teesside University (Best Animation for Monster Banquet)

Sea and Sky Pictures won Best Short for their film The Wilds and Newcastle production house re:production picked up two awards for Best Commercial and Non Broadcast Factual.

More than 400 industry professionals attended the event at the Hilton, Gateshead.