Towards a new British Cinema

Submitting Institution

Teesside University

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies

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Summary of the impact

Elliott, Haillay and Young are central to our research in film-making. Theirs is a socially-engaged but elegiac cinema of contemporary times. Elliott (writer and director), Haillay (producer) and Young (writer/producer) have, over the REF period, collaborated with one another, and with others, to create an influential body of work. The innovative approaches to narrative and the visual beauty of their cinematography have had an important impact on cinema audiences nationally, even more so internationally. They have participated in numerous international film festivals and won awards. With new productions currently at an advanced stage, the trajectory of their research is still upward. The standing of their backers and finance-providers attest to their growing international prestige, and audiences for their work continue to grow.

Underpinning research

Elliot, Haillay and Young are lecturers in the School of Arts & Media. They share, with others, responsibility for the teaching of film production at a professional, industry level. Haillay was appointed 1/9/2007, Young 11/8/2009 and Elliott 7/1/2013. In their film making they are creative advocates for specific, under-regarded or marginalised communities and disregarded or unspoken social issues, the unequal division of wealth in contemporary society and the social consequences of economic collapse on communities. As a group they have a strong sense of social activism and the desire to approach difficult subject matter and to expose ethical dilemmas. There is a real sense of excitement about their collaborations and partnerships; they engender a real sense of an on-going debate in the research space about the nature of a contemporary cinema, which is replicated in their practice.

In recent years the film making partnership of Hopkins and Haillay has emerged alongside other art school-trained film makers like McQueen and Taylor Wood to contribute new perspectives to an experimental British cinema that has long been dominated by Loach and Leigh. As fellow art students they formed their production company, Third Films (2001), as a vehicle for their own collaborations and to support collaboration with others. Their debut feature film `Better Things' (2008), received its world premiere at the International Critics Week, Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the Camera d'Or. Their research trajectory, as Ryan Gilbey of the Observer wrote at the time, reaches back `not to Ken Loach and Mike Leigh but to the visionaries who used emotional and social realism as a springboard for the imagination — think Powell and Pressburger, Nicolas Roeg and Derek Jarman...' `Better Things' went on to be shown at more than thirty international festivals. In furtherance of their research trajectory their multi-screen art installation `Sunday' was premiered at the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Arts, Gateshead In 2009. Currently Hopkins and Haillay have a feature film `Bypass' in production. It will premiere in 2014. Other Third Film outputs produced by Haillay in the REF period are the Turner prizewinning artist Gillian Wearing's first feature film `Self Made' (2010) and the Peter Snowdon documentary `The Uprising' (2013), compiled from citizen journalism to document the Arab Spring.

In addition to his collaboration with Hopkins, Haillay has close working relationships with Young and Elliott. They have collaborated on multiple projects, contributing to and honing one another's work and processes. The theme of society on the periphery is common to them all. Elliott's track record as a film maker includes `Jade' (2009), winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival and a BAFTA nomination for Best Short Film, which was produced by Haillay. Haillay is to produce Elliott's first feature film `Frontier'. It is at an advance stage of development and has been selected for the Torino Film Lab (2013/14).

Young's `Blood Cells' script, which has won an award of 150K Euros towards production costs by the Venice Biennale College — Cinema (2013/14), is to be co-produced by Haillay and Young and directed by Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore. It will go into production in time to be premiered at the 2014 Venice Film Festival. Young has two other film scripts currently awaiting filming: `Common Descent' and `Reptile'. `Common Descent' was conceived in 2010 in collaboration with Dutch director Eelko Ferwerda. Lang Rotterdams commissioned a feature-length first draft screenplay and attendant creative package from the original Young-authored concept. Young's final screenplay was submitted to Lang Rotterdamns in 2011. Revolver Media currently retains the option on the work and all associated rights. `Reptile' is currently in development with Film4 and Creative England. Following £4000 seed funding from Northern Film and Media and Film4 in support of the creation of the original creative package. Creative England have committed to the project for production through its Advantage Media Production Fund in the West Midlands. Young is due to submit a second draft treatment in anticipation of full development and production funding.

References to the research

Research outputs.

1. Feature Film: 'Better Things' (2008). Director: Duane Hopkins. Producer: Samm Haillay Media of output: DVD. Release date 27th April 2009. Listed as REF2

2. Exhibition: 'Sunday' (2009). Authors: Duane Hopkins and Samm Haillay. Media of output: Photographic imagery, film installation series for exhibition. Listed as REF2

3. Confidential report (for external body), film script in production: `Common Descent' (2010). Author: Ben Young. Listed as REF2

4. Confidential report (for external body), film script in production: `Blood Cells' (2013). Author: Ben Young. Listed as REF2

5. Confidential report (for external body), film script in production: `Reptile' (2013). Author: Ben Young. Listed as REF2

6. Confidential report (for external body), film script in production: `Frontier' (2013). Author: Dan Elliott (PDF available on request).

Grants and funding awards.

1. Third Film's installation `Sunday' was awarded an Arts Council England grant of £14,150

2. Third Film's `Better Things' received funding from UK Film Council (Equity), £312,033.50; FilmFour (Equity/License Fee), £258,033.50; EM Media (Equity), £192,000; Glasgow Film Office (Equity), £25,000; Abacus/Zephyr (80% PTC), £133,600; NFM (Debt Finance), £40,000; Arte (License Fee), £130,000.

3. Third Films awarded a BFI Vision Award (2013-15). The £50K per annum award will help Third Films develop a slate of films over the coming two years.

4. Third Films feature film `Bypass', currently in production, has received funding support from the British Film Institute (Equity), £395,430; Torino Film Lab (Producer's Equity), £111,800; The Match Factory (MG), £21,500; Northern Film & Media(Equity), £19,500, UK Tax Credit, (17.5% of UK Spend), £150,000; Film I Vast (Equity), £142,500; STV (License), £8,550; Swedish Film Institute (Equity), £47,500; Film Agency Wales (Equity), £120,000

5. Young's `Blood Cells' feature film script was awarded £1920 from TU Business Investment Fund — July 2012; £1000 from CPH:FORUM (Copenhagen) — November 2012, €2000 from Venice Biennale — October 2013 and €150,000 from Venice Biennale College — Cinema (2013/14) November 2013.

6. Young's `Common Descent' feature film script was awarded €9000 towards production costs by Lang Rotterdams, a scheme of the Nederlands Filmfonds in 2011.

7. Young's `Reptile' feature film script received £3000 seed funding from Northern Film and Media and Film4 which supported the creation of the original creative package.

Details of the impact

Duane Hopkins and Samm Haillay founded Third Films (2001) as a vehicle for producing films that are socially engaged, sometimes a re-evaluation of the British Social Realist form, and are all set in the contemporary moment. Ryan Gilbey of the Guardian stated that their first feature film `Better Things' was at the forefront of "an unmistakable groundswell in British cinema, heralded by a clutch of directors who are chafing against the boundaries of narrative filmmaking, and in some cases dismantling them altogether" (2008)1. `Better Things' was nominated for the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (2010). It went on to be exhibited at numerous film festivals. Amongst the awards it received were the FIPRESCI Award, Best Film Stockholm, International Film Festival (2008), and the SIGNIS Award Best Film, Alba International Film Festival (2009). `Better Things' is currently on the syllabus of twelve film schools.

Following `Better Things' Haillay and Hopkins made 'Sunday' an installation for exhibition in gallery spaces. This was an investigation into how film might exist in the gallery context. 'Sunday' is indebted to a short film 'Field' (2001) that Third Films had previously made and demonstrates that material shot for one format can successfully be transferred to another. The film installation was so successful that 'Sunday' has exhibited in three different continents and continues to be a point of interest in its various configurations. It has been shown at the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Arts, Gateshead 2009; Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool 2009; Bank Arts Studio, Yokohama 2009; La Quinzaine, Cannes 2011; Metropolis, Hamburg 2011; the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Toronto 2011; The Magazine, Berwick 2012.

The British Council nominated Haillay to represent the UK at the Producers on the Move initiative in 2011 of which he said: "This was a brilliant networking opportunity and spotlight for myself and the projects I'm working on."

Third Films has continually expanded its activities over the years, drawing more collaborators into its orbit. It was one of twenty UK film partnerships recently awarded a BFI Vision Award (2013-15). The £50K per annum award will help Third Films develop a slate of films over the coming two years.

Haillay is the producer of Elliott's films. Elliott is the winner of over twenty-five international awards and nominations. His films include `The Making of Parts' (2006), four short documentaries made for Channel 4 and `Jade' (2009), winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlinale Film Festival and a BAFTA nomination for Best Short Film. `Jade' has been exhibited at over a hundred international film biennales. The British Council's film department assisted Elliott to promote the film by supporting him at film festivals. `Jade' was accepted onto their short film scheme which screens films to festival programmers. Since arriving at Teesside Elliott has been engaged in preparing a final script and shooting schedule for his first feature film `Frontier', produced by Haillay. This is currently shortlisted for the 2012-13 TorinoFilmLab funding slate.

The University has been awarded £20K (November, 2013) by Creative England to create an online training package called i-shorts aimed at helping new film-making talent, in recognition of the expertise of our film makers, led by Haillay.

Haillay is also producer of Young's `Blood Cells' feature film. The completed script was presented for competition at this year's Biennale di Venezia. The Biennale College — Cinema is the brainchild of a partnership with Gucci, aimed at promoting new talents and offering them the opportunity to work closely with well-known professionals in order to make micro-budget films. It is an acknowledgement of the quality of Young's script that `Blood Cells' was one of three films (out of 300 submitted) awarded €150,000 funding; and will be premiered at next year's 71st Venice Film Festival. `Reptile' and `Common Descent' have also attracted funding and professionals eager to work with Young to realise his scripts as feature films. Funding from Nederlands Filmfonds, Northern Film & Media and Film4, amongst others, attest to the high regard in which his scripts are held.

Other collaborations that Third Films has enabled includes Turner prizewinning artist Gillian Wearing's first feature film `Self Made' (2010), co-producer Haillay. (`...Others have made the leap into `reality cinema' but nobody has taken it as far as Wearing has,' Matilda Battersby, The Independent. `There has been a mixed reception since the film started screening at festivals last year; not surprising, since it is an emotionally wrenching, uncompromising, sometimes horrifying piece of work. It is also incredibly powerful.' Kira Cochrane, The Guardian, 29 August, 2011). Another highlight is the Peter Snowdon documentary, `The Uprising' (2013), co-produced by Haillay, compiled from citizen journalism to document the Arab Spring. It was awarded the Opus Bonum — Best International Documentary Film Award at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, the Czech Republic, 2013, by juror US director-curator Craig Baldwin who described it as "a film which, in turn, saddened me, frightened me, outraged me, inspired me, and ultimately made me truly proud to be a part of the democratic project and the struggle for human dignity." (Report from ScreenDaily by Martin Blaney, 29 October, 2013.)

Sources to corroborate the impact

Common Descent Young,

Common Descent Young, PDF at:

Blood Cells Young/Haillay

Better Things, Haillay/Hopkins

Selfmade Wearing/Haillay

The Uprising Haillay/Snowdon

Better Things Haillay/Hopkins

Frontier Elliott/Haillay

Better Things and New British Realism in New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film Volume 8 Issue 1 ISSN: 14742756

Gilbey, Ryan (2008), `Guys and Girls on Top' Accessed 13/04/2012