A MORPETH teenager who hopes to make an impact on the big screen will get tips and advice from prestigious names in the film industry next week.
Alex Ayre is one of 60 successful individuals out of more than 3,000 applicants to be accepted on the National Youth Film Academy’s first ever Summer Course in London.
It is bringing together a group of 16 to 25-year-olds for ten days to learn more about their area of interest, including writing, directing and producing, and they will be split into groups to put together a short film.
They will also be able to network and showcase their talents to recognised industry professionals at a special screening event in BFI Southbank at the end of the programme.
This will be another useful experience for the Kirkhill resident, who has already directed an award-winning short film and a music video for Cramlington and Newcastle based band The Longsands.
He auditioned in Edinburgh and will be working as a sound engineer and camera operator on the course.
“When I got onto the course I saw it mainly as another film making opportunity, albeit on a bigger scale,” said Alex.
“But I was amazed when I looked at the list of names who will be involved. They include Gareth Edwards, who will be the director of the next Godzilla movie, a producer of The King’s Speech and film critic Mark Kermode.
“These people will be able to use their great experience to inspire us and give us valuable advice and support. I can’t wait to get started on Monday.”
The 17-year-old did his GCSEs at King Edward VI School and is now doing A Levels at Newcastle College, with film studies and media studies among his subjects.
Two years ago he decided to pursue his interest in working as a film maker by joining the Northern Stars Academy based at the Tyneside Cinema.
He did a series of weekend workshops led by industry professionals to build up his practical skills and as part of the course, the participants were put into teams and asked to do their own short film.
Alex was sound designer for Siren, the first film he was involved in, and it was nominated for a national innovation award.
At Easter he was director of a spoof documentary called Life Guard, which was filmed over five days in Seahouses.
It was recently announced that it will receive an award for the comic performance in a short film category at this year’s Co-op Film Festival in Bradford.
He said: “The workshops were extremely useful as I didn’t know much about making films when I started and Northern Stars has catapulted me into the industry because of the opportunities it provides and the contacts I have made through the course.
“As I was the youngest and least experienced person on it, I was asked to come back for another year and so when it came to filming Life Guard I was confident in my ability to direct.
He added: “I was helped enormously by the actors who were very easy to work with.”
One of the actors was Steve Wraith, who is manager of The Longsands, a band that is gaining a national reputation and critical acclaim for its insightful indie/rock songs.
He said it needed a music video for Streets and Pavements and after a few meetings, Alex was hired as director. It is due out on Monday.
Alex said: “The theme we were given is how times have changed for young people from when the band members were teenagers and the video features a group of youngsters playing in the street.
“They gave me and my team a lot of freedom to be creative within the theme and some of the images match with the lyrics such as a no ball games sign being shown when that phrase is sung.
“What we have done promotes realism, not glamorisation, and fits with a rock and roll band. I had never done anything like that before — I really enjoyed it.”
He is planning to do a film production course at university upon completing his A Levels next year and would also like to do some more short films.
Alex says he was inspired by acclaimed writer and director Shane Meadows putting together a film in five days and encouraging others to do the same.
“I’m keen to do whatever I can to maintain the British film industry’s reputation for high quality films despite funding cuts,” he added.