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Young film-makers all showed promise

By David Hart at Haverhill Cineworld, Sunday, February 28 on Sunday, 28th February 2010.

There cannot be many better feelings for a youngster learning about film-making than to see one of their early efforts on the big screen of the cinema.

Some of Haverhill's budding Steven Spielbergs and Peter Jacksons had just that opportunity yesterday evening (Sunday) at their local Cineworld.

There were seven short-listed films for the final of Made In Haverhill, a competition for young people to make films of up to five minutes long and on a Haverhill-based theme.

All seven showed considerable promise, and each produced its own memorable moments, although the Haverhill connection was often tenuous.

Billed as a gala night and compered by Cineworld's Nathan Smith, the evening's highlights were certainly the movies themselves, rather than the awkwardly-filmed, haphazardly presented and generally irritating comments of the judges.

How much better to have had a live judging panel - if you are going to try to imitate a TV contest you have to do it rather better than that.

That said, the judges did make some pertinent comments, although how far they took the Haverhill dimension (or lack of it) into account seemed to vary from film to film.

Kicking the show off was The Alien Attack which, although technically limited, had a splendid retro feel about it to someone like me, who much prefers the old Doctor Who to the new one. I particularly liked the authentic ray-gun moment.

This was followed by The Decade's Dumbest Dating Tapes. A series of unlikely prospective partners was well portrayed and, unlike the judges, I liked the accents. This was one of several films to show a good sense of comedy.

The Ritual, which was next up, was a film about obsessive compulsive disorder. The judges identified this was made before the competition had been announced, but, unlike them, I felt it did have a distinctive Haverhill feel to it, and an atmospheric score, although it necessarily skimmed the surface of a complex and sensitive subject.

The next film, rated the lowest by the judges, was a disturbing piece called Water. I thought this was artistically shot, and although the action took a bit of thinking about, I can't say it lost me, as it appeared to lose the judges altogether. I thought this showed more creativity than many of the other films, but was completely unconnected with Haverhill.

The only film to make a direct effort to attend to the brief in having a real Haverhill theme was Haverhill Past And Present. This was a little documentary about the town and its history. It seemed churlish to complain, as the judges did, that it didn't look into the future. I thought it did what it said on the tin, although I agree it was rather one-dimensional and flat in presentation, depending overmuch on cross-faded stills.

The most entertaining film of the evening was certainly the hilarious Manor Farm Close: The True Story. If there had been a best actor award it would clearly have gone to the salesman in this. But in the end it was more a set of sketches than any sort of coherent narrative, so it lost out.

The winner came last, which was no surprise when you realise the judging had already been done.

Red-Handed was clearly the most accomplished technically and the best constructed. There were some fine moments - the lit shape of the doorway on the carpet into which the body fell, the genral dream sequencing and the Psycho reference with blood being washed down the drain. I felt the shift from reality to dream could have been handled better via some voice-over, and there was little connection with Haverhill, but it was a worthy winner and a punchy and gripping piece of work.

The showings were prefced by a short film by John Conrad, who fell outside the age group, but showed just what a beginner can do in a short time with few resources and a good idea.

Haverhill Online News

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