Programme: Documentary Film Directing - MFA

Year: 2014

In this article, we focus on Stuart Edwards, who graduated in 2014 from Screen Academy Scotland at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) with an MFA in Documentary Film Directing. This is Stuart's account of his first year…

Since graduating in June 2014, I have been working as a freelance, self-shooting filmmaker / videographer, working on promotional videos and live music sets, and continuing to make documentaries. 

Festivals

My graduation short documentary, A Wee Night In, about my 95 year old grandmother, has had a successful film festival run so far, and is continuing to play in festivals internationally.

It was selected for the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), where it was nominated for Best Student Documentary, and was one of only 81 films selected for the American Film Institute’s AFI DOCS festival in Washington DC.

Thanks to Creative Scotland’s Festival Attendance funding, I was able to attend both IDFA and AFI DOCS, which was an invaluable experience for me and has broadened my outlook as a documentary filmmaker. As a recent graduate, still finding my feet, it was a huge privilege to see, first-hand, the reactions from international audiences in packed cinemas to a seemingly small Scottish story. The funding also allowed me to attend the IDFA Academy, which organises workshops and training programmes for both students and more experienced filmmakers.

A Wee Night In had its Scottish premiere at the Glasgow Short Film Festival in March, and has gone on to play at the Ukraine International Documentary Festival (Kiev), Moscow International Documentary Film Festival, CNEX Documentary Film Festival (Taipei, Taiwan) and, most recently, at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Here it received a Special Mention at ‘Shorts: Growing Up, Getting By’, a showcase of the best emerging work from the UK film academies curated by MSc students at the University of Edinburgh.

Trailer for A Wee Night In
Stuart Edwards, 2014 Film Directing graduate

"Thanks to Creative Scotland funding, I was able to attend both IDFA and AFI DOCS ..As a recent graduate, still finding my feet, it was a huge privilege to see, first-hand, the reactions from international audiences in packed cinemas to a seemingly small Scottish story".

Stuart Edwards, 2014 Film Directing graduate

Royal Television Society Student Award

In addition to its successful festivals run, A Wee Night In was the winner of Best Postgraduate Camera Work, and nominated for Best Postgraduate Factual, at the Royal Television Society (RTS) Student Television Awards 2015.

To receive this award for my cinematography, let alone being nominated for two awards, was quite an honour and a huge surprise for me. I am still very much developing my sensibilities as a cinematographer in documentary, so to get such terrific feedback from the RTS judging panel was amazing. They said...

“This was an incredibly competitive category across all the genres but the winner was felt to have used the camera with great wit and confidence, allowing the story and characters to unfold with elegant pace and to capture the beauty of an intimate world.”

Current projects

Over the past few month,s I have been working in collaboration with fellow ECA Documentary Graduate, Lukasz Kulec, on a new documentary about the famous Barras Market in Glasgow.

The film focuses on the last of a generation of older Glasgow traders and the slowly declining market around them.

It's been a terrific experience filming in the Barras. All the traders have been very warm and welcoming towards us, with lots of humour and banter, and it has been a rewarding and enjoyable production.

Screen Academy Scotland is a collaboration between Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh College of Art, dedicated to fostering the future of film makers. It is one of only three Film Academies in the UK recognised by Creative Skillset as a centre of excellence in film practise education.


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