Watersprite Film Festival has become BIFA-Qualifying this yearTWITTER/WATERSPRITEFILM

The film industry is among those most damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The many stages of production require multiple people - from filming to editing and even viewing, pandemic number restrictions are not really ideal. I spoke with Amber Hyams, Head of Screenwriting from Watersprite Film Festival about how the Festival has progressed in spite of the current situation, particularly with a new competition they have launched.

“Watersprite Film Festival received more than 1000 submissions from over 100 different countries this year alone.”

Watersprite may be known in Cambridge as a film festival for students of both Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University, but it actually has a far wider outreach. Taking place annually in March, it is the biggest student festival in the UK, and also has a successful international following. In fact, Watersprite received more than 1000 submissions from over 100 different countries this year alone. They have often fought to support the film industry and encourage creators, a recent example being their ‘Creativity in Crisis Award’, aiming to celebrate those who were able to persevere with filmmaking during the pandemic.

Watersprite's Student Screenplay CompetitionTWITTER/WATERSPRITEFILM

In addition to Watersprite’s success in the continuation of the festival, I was particularly excited to speak to Amber as the organiser of their newest competition. This year, for the first time ever, they have launched the Watersprite Screenwriting Award 2021. The focus of this award, according to Amber, is to promote the only stage of filmmaking which remains possible in spite of lockdown. Students are encouraged to enter even if they have no experience in film, as the competition only requires a script of maximum 15 pages. The idea behind this was to make this project manageable for students over the holidays, and improve the skills and experience of any student filmmaker or film enthusiast.

The best thing about this competition, Amber says, is that it will definitely happen. All stages of the competition and its awards can be online, giving students some certainty in what has proved a difficult and unstable year. The competition deliberately targets this early stage of filmmaking in order for films to be in the best possible position coming out of lockdown. The only rules are that the screenplay must be written by students (including those who graduated within the past year) and it must be in English. Any genre or style will be accepted; this really is a competition for anybody interested in film.


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For me, the most enticing part of the competition are the prizes on offer. Up to 8 winning entrants will have their script read by industry professionals, who will also give full written feedback. This means that students could be in with a chance of meeting famous filmmakers, and working with them to develop their script. Amber especially wanted to create a collective of talented writers, who could work together as they progressed with their careers with the knowledge of shared interests. One highlight of this is an exclusive round table at Watersprite 2021 itself, where the winners would be able to discuss their successes with each other in the company of even more industry professionals. In a world where students can easily feel isolated, the possibility of this event was of the utmost importance to Amber, who stressed the need for human contact. Filmmaking itself relies on teamwork and communication, so the inclusion of this in the prize reflects the industry well. Winners would further be integrated into the Watersprite Alumni, allowing them access to filmmakers from across the world in various stages of their careers. For a few students, this could begin their journey towards Hollywood.

“Students could be in with a chance of meeting famous filmmakers, and working with them to develop their script.”

Entering this competition is simple; just fill in a form online and upload your script. The deadline for the competition is 14th January 2021, so send them in quickly! No matter your experience, Amber emphasised that this would be beneficial to anyone with an enthusiasm for film.

In the aftermath of a year filled with struggles, this competition provides hope for a future in which the creative industries are flourishing once more. In our current climate, any opportunity to encourage creativity is worth seizing. Watersprite Film Festival has been a beacon for student filmmakers during these uncertain times.

Find out more about the competition here: https://www.watersprite.org.uk/screenplay