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A group of UWS filmmaking graduates have taken a home a top prize at the 25th national Royal Television Society (RTS) Student Awards.

Filmmakers Harvey Gardner, Reece Steel and Luca Michelli were awarded the honour of Best Postgraduate Drama at the prestigious national awards for their short film UFO.

Writer and director Harvey, who is also a graduate of the BA in Filmmaking at UWS, said: “I couldn’t believe it when the award was announced. Having been nominated against two previous Bafta nominees – whose films are brilliant – I had resigned myself to just being thrilled to be nominated. It is truly surreal, and I am so thankful to the RTS for seeing something in our short film.”

The trio, who graduated from the UWS MA in Filmmaking last November, produced the drama-comedy about two brothers who happen upon their estranged father only to discover that he’s become the figurehead of a UFO cult as part of their coursework last year.

The judges said of the film: “UFO is a wonderfully original and offbeat film, unanimously praised for its unexpectedly moving and poignant story, told with real visual boldness and wit. The balance of surrealist animation, a deceptively emotional script, endearing characters and quietly truthful performances made this a real stand out for the panel.”

The ceremony, which took place online this year due to the current pandemic, was hosted by comedian and presenter Matt Richardson. The winning entries came from 13 universities and institutions across the UK.

The UWS team were up against two other productions from the National Film and Television School in their category. It was the first time that students from the UWS MA had received a nomination in the national RTS Student Awards.

“It felt so good to be able to represent UWS as the course has done so much for my development as a filmmaker. Without having done both the BA and the MA, I wouldn’t have been able to have had this success. I’m so grateful for the course leaders and tutors throughout my time at the University.”
UWS Filmmaking graduate Harvey Gardner

The Filmmaking MA at UWS was established in 2017, with the UFO filmmakers part of its second intake. The programme is accredited by ScreenSkills UK and is part of the University’s Creative Media Academy, one of only three such institutions in Scotland to be endorsed as a centre of excellence by Creative Skillset in 2011. The Academy brings together students, staff and practitioners within film, television, radio, music, performance, journalism and digital art.

The course is taught by academics from filmmaking backgrounds and based partly at Glasgow’s Film City, seeking to give students exposure to the film industry as much as possible.

Professor Nick Higgins, course leader and Director of the Creative Media Academy, said: “We are absolutely delighted for Harvey and all the student crew involved in UFO – they are a talented and committed team and deserve every success.

“Whilst our Masters programme is only in its third year of delivery, we have set our expectations high from the start and our students receive tuition from BAFTA and Oscar winning tutors with a view to launching successful careers in the film industry, something I feel quite sure will be the case for Harvey, Reece and Luca.”