Less than a month after our relaunch here at Studio 279, we have some great news that’s worthy of the new beginning. We have just received word that Graduate Decline, our satirical short film about higher education policy in the UK, is to be shown on the BBC Big Screen in our native Birmingham! And we couldn’t be more thrilled.
Back in the dark days of February we sent a DVD of the film to the Screens Operational Centre for assessment. And since, we hadn’t heard a dickie bird. Our assumption was that we had not been successful, that maybe they didn’t like it, or the technical standard was not high enough to be shown on such a large scale. Then out of the blue a few weeks ago, after a thoroughly exhausting day running on an episode of See Hear in Manchester, we received the email telling us that they loved it, and that “it’s a clever film”. We have been sitting on that news since the end of July, waiting for the film to go through the rigmarole of compliance, but today we received word it is A-OK and ready to go. Naturally we are as pleased as punch to be accorded such an honour, in pride of place in Birmingham city centre. This is extra special as the film was shot in an alleyway thirty seconds walk from where it will be screened, in the illustrious Victoria Square, home of the Council House, the Floozy in the Jacuzzi, and now, Graduate Decline.
For the uninitiated, Graduate Decline was our response to the crises hitting UK students and graduates; poor employment prospects, exceedingly high debt (and this even before the fee rises were approved in December) and the raw deal students were getting from institutions. Highly dissatisfied with my own brushes with university education, and the similar experiences of friends and family members, led to the creation of the film that would become Graduate Decline. The short is set in a world were education has been devalued; everyone has a degree, and so each one is meaningless. This forces graduates to beg on the streets for money, work and food, and even fight each other in a Graduate Death Match to get ahead. The prize? A job. Two enter: One leaves! In the week the latest A Level results have been released, and poor kids with great grades fight it out for dwindling uni places, it sadly has very contemporary relevance.
If you would like to see the film on the Big Screen, head into Birmingham city centre from this Saturday 20th August. Head for Victoria Square, sit up on the edge of the beautiful fountain and enjoy. The film is viewable in the curated spot at 12pm, but is also on a rotation with other remarkable films, animations and other goodies, so if you stick around long enough you should see it. If you see people in robes and funny hats, that should be us. The film should remain on the playlist for four weeks, so there’s no excuse: catch it while you can! If for no other reason you should see it for the sterling work by a great cast and crew, all of whom were recent graduates or current students when the film was shot. Watch it for the dexterous camerawork and editing of media guru Dale O’Keeffe, for the gorgeous song “Beating on Dust” from the brilliant Birmingham band Black Bears, and for the fantastic acting all round from Studio 279 regulars Neil Iwanicki and Anthony Crutch, as well as legal eagle Clare Phillips and the marvellously talented (and packing a mean punch) actress Christina Kruzewski. And of course, for me as writer/director, but you knew that already, didn’t you?
And if you are unfortunate enough to not live in Birmingham, or do and cannot face the trip into town (and if not, why not?) then the film is of course viewable here. But for the big screen experience, get thee to Victoria Square! What with this and The Interviewee soon showing at ArtsFest Studio 279 is taking over Birmingham’s big screens! Look out Brum, here we come!