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By Francis Blagburn
Alexander Darby is a writer/director who doubles as a Russian and Philosophy Student. Jess Campbell is a producer of student drama, and treasurer of OUDS. Together, they have a vision: to establish the infrastructure for a film-making culture in Oxford comparable to that of the bustling student theatre scene.
The idea for the Illyria Film Fund came when they were making their own short film Music Wherever She Goes, and were struck by the complete lack of any support within the University. “We were trying to get equipment and funding but it was a nightmare, there was just nothing”, says Jess, and the problem doesn’t end with resources. Since establishing the fund Jess and Alex have spoken to aspiring editors and directors who’ve felt completely bewildered as to where to find scripts to work with. Part of the idea of the fund is to create a network of creative minds who can work together. “If you want to direct or you want to edit and you don’t know anyone else [to work with], e-mail us and we’ll put you in touch with people”, Jess is keen to add.
As well as bringing film-makers together, the fund will also bring together audiences to view the finished products. The films funded by the IFF will be screened at Oxford’s historic Ultimate Picture Palace, just off the Cowley Road, and a judge from the British Film Institute will be in attendance. Any students who’ve made films without the help of the fund are also more than welcome to submit their work for a chance to have it screened.
When asked if this emphasis on screenings is part of a counter-movement to the ever encroaching monopoly of the internet, the reaction is mixed. “I think there’s a strong argument now that good work goes viral”, Alex points out, “and that’s a great way of getting seen that hasn’t been available before”. On the flipside, the pair appreciate the importance of authentic audience reaction, something student theatre boasts in abundance: “you can put [a film] on Vimeo or YouTube and you can get a few hits but you can never really find out what people think,” says Jess, “and without feedback it’s hard to improve”.
The first big push to get projects going was embarked upon in Trinity of last year. 40 submissions of short film scripts flooded into their e-mail inboxes, which Jess and Alex have now whittled down to four. The next step is to find a team of directors, producers, production designers, cinematographers, lighting designers, and composers to bring the four scripts to life.
If you’re interested in bidding either as a solo contributor or as part of a team then the time is now; the deadline for bids is Friday of 4th week at 5pm.
To find out more information on how to bid for a script you can go to their website, where you will also be able to find submission forms as well as an equipment guide. Alex and Jess can be contacted by e-mail: