Team Spotlight: Meet Matt, Head of Sparks Film School Guildford

Meet Matt, Director of Sparks Film School Guildford
Meet Matt, Director of Sparks Film School Guildford

This month, as part of our Team Spotlight regular feature, we met with Head of Sparks Film School Guildford, Matt Toogood.

For this month, we reached out to Matt who is the director of Sparks Film School Guildford! We sat down with Matt to see how he has found running his own Sparks and being part of the team!

Getting to Know Matt

Matt is our Head of Sparks Film School Guildford, and runs a happy and creative team helping young filmmakers in Guildford and Farnham to create films each week and during the school holidays.

Matt’s passionate about helping young people tell their own stories:

‘I think filmmaking is really important as it allows young people to process and express their emotions in a variety of ways. As an outlet it can offer young people a voice that they previously didn’t have. They can discover skills and abilities that they wouldn’t have otherwise known they have thorough their school subjects, it allows them to work with others, communicate effectively and also, importantly, have fun!’

Matt started his Sparks journey as a workshop leader as part of the team at Sparks Dorking and Leatherhead, before setting up and opening Sparks Film School Guildford. Matt says, ‘I loved the hands-on, fun approach to filmmaking. In my day job as a Media Teacher at a College there’s a lot of criteria for our students to meet, a lot of hoops to jump through, with Sparks it was untampered creativity. I loved it from Day 1!’

Matt’s favourite film is Good Will Hunting (1997, Gus Van Sant). ‘I love the story and the story behind the making of the film. It shows people that everyone has something to offer and that you can turn a vulnerability into a strength. It’s got some incredible performances and an excellent script. The speech Ben Affleck gives Matt Damon at the end about how he hopes one day he’ll come to pick him up and he wouldn’t be there because he’s gone on to somewhere better, gosh, gets me every time! Also, “How’d you like them apples?”’

Award Success at Sparks Film School Guildford

Matt’s proud of the hard work and creativity that his members show in each workshop. Excitingly, the crews have already got a good track record of appearances and wins at independent film festivals.

Matt says ‘Working with the young film makers and seeing their ideas come to life is brilliant! Getting one of our films nominated for several categories at the Children’s International Film Festival of Wales was great. Winning Best Team Effort as part of the Sparks family was unbelievable! I’m hoping the future for Sparks and me involves more silverware in this year’s award season.’

Matt and some members of Sparks Film School Guildford
Matt and some members of Sparks Film School Guildford

At Sparks Film School Guildford we have lots of filmmaking workshops lined up for 2024 – we want this year to be our most creative yet! For any aspiring filmmaker interested in coming to a Sparks workshop I would say bring all of your ideas and share your passion. We’d love to have you join the crew, everybody is welcome!

Excitingly, we also have animation workshops planned for Summer 2024. Due to popular demand, we have a new base in Farnham too, so we can’t wait to help the young filmmakers of Farnham to tell their stories.

Sparks Film School Guildford offers youth filmmaking, school holiday camps and special events. You can find out more about their programme of youth film courses here >>

Sparks Film School in Guildford is one of 30+ youth film school locations in the UK. Find out more about opportunities to join, or find your nearest Sparks Film School here >>

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