The support, insight and connections of industry leaders can be critical in building a career in film and television. That's why, every year, Falmouth University's School of Film and Television hosts a showcase, right in the heart of media London, where students' work is debuted to top professionals.
This year, the audience was packed, including Falmouth alumna, Jess Symons, former Head of Children's at Channel 5 and now Head of Ivy House, Head of Dr Pluto films, James Abadi, editor Steven Worsley who worked on the BBC's War and Peace, and Roger Sominsz, director of Death in Paradise.
One student film in particular caught the attention of several industry bigwigs, including John Stevenson, director of Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda.
'Towels' is the debut animation by BA(Hons) Animation & Visual Effects graduates Prawta Annez and Camilla Kjaerne.
Praising the animation, John Stevenson said: "I thought it was a wonderful short film, beautifully designed and realised, with a clear and very clever central concept that was told with elegance and economy. I see quite a lot of student films and most show promise or possibility. [Towels] was a completely realised statement that could hold its own in any film festival. For a first film, that is a very great accomplishment. It surprised and delighted me."
Prawta explained how the idea for Towels materialised: "It originally stemmed from an illustration I came across in a magazine by Katrin Coetzer. The image and the article were about beach etiquette and how people claim their 'territory' on a beach using several objects, particularly towels. At the same time, Brexit was all over the news and the presidential elections were taking place in the U.S. The illustration and the political climate at the time made me reflect on how the small mundane actions that we do without a second thought can reflect how we deal with things on a bigger scale as a society. From using towels to claim your space on a beach to building walls between countries."
Towels was Prawta's first directing experience and Camilla's first time producing. Together they led a dedicated crew of second-year Animation students, all of whom are now busy working on their own final films.
Camilla told us: "We had an amazing crew of talented people who believed in our project and stuck with it, despite any bumps along the way. They also happened to be really lovely people with a great sense of humour. This film has truly been a team effort. We would not have Towels without every single person who worked with us."
When asked how they felt showcasing Towels to industry professionals, Prawta said: "It was quite nerve-wracking just knowing that something you've made for the very first time and are responsible for is going to be viewed by people who do this professionally. It also felt like a big moment of truth as to how the film was going to be received outside the safe circle of family, friends and tutors. To hear that the film was received so well was a huge relief as well as a massive moment of pride for all of us."
Camilla agreed: "It was truly amazing to hear that all our hard work had paid off. Since then we have received some great feedback from different people throughout the industry."
Prawta told us: "The course and the lecturers have done a really good job at preparing us for working in the industry, as well as teaching us how to stand out and stand up for our own individual art and ideas. The support of the cohort and lecturers has been a huge part of what has made my learning experience at Falmouth such a wonderful one."
Camilla held a similar sentiment: "Falmouth has been a great place to study and develop skills I didn't even know I had. When I started university, I was dead set on working as a VFX artist, however, throughout the years of studying, I got to try loads of different fields within animation, which I turned out to enjoy and excel at. In my third year, I found my true passion was producing. This experience will be a great asset when going into the industry."
Prawta agreed: "I think one of the most valuable things I've learnt from my experience at Falmouth is appreciation and respect for all the different positions and jobs within the animation industry. Most importantly, always respect your producer. Herding cats is easy, compared to what they do!"
Camilla and Prawta will be entering Towels into festivals across the UK and internationally. They are also planning a public online release of the film at some point in 2019.