Sparks Film of the Month: February 2024

The Sparks Film School’s Film of the Month Award celebrates a film production made by film crew members taking part in Sparks Film School courses.

Or young film crews work incredibly hard to produce their own film productions, where they work collaboratively to make a film that expresses their ideas and creativity, whilst also showcasing their technical abilities and skills. We love to shine a celebratory spotlight on their achievements.

Each month, our panel of judges – assembled from our team of filmmaking instructors – look at submissions from across Sparks Film Schools nationally. They assess based on each film’s impact on screen and explore all its little details to uncover all the things we love about each film chosen.

Sparks Film School Dorking behind the scenes on this month’s Film of the Month

To be selected as Sparks Film of the Month, a film production needs to be…

Original: 
We look for originality and imagination above all else when choosing the winner of Film of the Month. We looks for films that surprise us, offer some inventiveness and challenge convention.

Interesting: 
To be chosen as Film of the Month, a production needs to be interesting. We want to see what happens next; we want to learn more about the characters. We should be invested in watching until the very end.

Well Made: 
We need to be appreciate the technicality in how a film has been made for it to be awarded Film of the Month. It should feature a clear storyline, be well shot, well acted, well edited and put together.

Made by Students of Sparks Film School: 
Film of the Month can be awarded to any film production made by students at any Sparks Film School across the UK. It can be made independently or during film school sessions.

For February’s Film of The Month we are turning our gaze over to Sparks Dorking and Leatherhead! February’s winner is the exciting, twist-filled, and suspenseful film ‘Criminal History’! This film was made by the talented filmmakers from Sparks Dorking during their recent February Half Term Holiday Camp! 

This February the theme was ‘Scene of The Crime’, and in the film ‘Criminal History’ they have really dove into this theme and created a criminal heist movie, with twists and turns and some light comedy too! Our panel were firstly very impressed by the opening scene. Straight away the tone is set as we are taken to a dark and intense criminal interrogation room, where our protagonist thieves are asked about their recent heist where they attempted to steal the Mona Lisa! The filmmakers have set the atmosphere really brilliantly here, with some great acting performances, and use of light and shadow in their shots. We as an audience are immediately drawn in and interested in what the criminals have done, and why.

‘Criminal History’ also really impressed our judges with its great use of prolonged flashbacks and montages, techniques the filmmakers learned are commonly used in crime thriller films. In this film, the crew have created a snappy and fun set piece of how the thieves stole the painting. The stakes are really high and we see the thieves use all sorts of technology and stealth tactics in order to secure the painting, including unlocking high security doors with high tech, and taking out guards! This section of the film is really well done, with some great use of different shot types, interesting camera work, and mixing in a small element of comedy which works great for this heightened story. Really great work here crew!

Our team particularly enjoyed the use of panning shots and close ups during the flashback. We loved the ‘nodding’ section where the crew signal to each other to go to the next stage of the plan. Some really fun and fresh filmmaking going on here, with light nods to the tropes of the genre. Our panel also enjoyed the clever ways in which the filmmakers have come up with how to show the details of the heist. They spray over the security cameras, a guard watches them on a laptop hidden away, and they use a new kind of tech to open the vault containing the painting. Some top filmmaking and storytelling choices going on here crew, well done!

Finally, our judges were impressed by the shock twist towards the end of the film. We won’t spoil anything here, but the painting may not be what the thieves expected it to be! This group of young filmmakers have clearly put a lot of effort and imagination into this short film in just 3 days! The storyboarding and writing is really special, and it has resulted in a fun and fast paced fun crime film, accompanied by some great and comedic performances. Congratulations to Sparks Dorking and the crew for being February’s Film of The Month!

This film was made by young crew members taking part in the February Half Term courses, as part of our holiday course programme – epic movie making holiday camps – with Sparks Film School.

Sparks Film School offers filmmaking, animation and photography workshops for ages 5-18, including term time classes and holiday camps.

We offer free taster classes and there are lots of opportunities to get involved. You can find out more about our filmmaking courses here >>>

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