Student films selected for Manchester Film Festival

26 February, 2024

Student success is at the heart of everything we do at BIMM University, so we’re delighted to announce that several exceptional student films from our Manchester campus have been officially selected for the prestigious Manchester Film Festival 2024. Among these brilliant projects is the captivating documentary HERITAGE and the compelling narrative Everyday.

HERITAGE follows the remarkable story of Muhammed, a talented young filmmaker who embarks on a life-changing journey back to his homeland, The Gambia, after a decade of living in the United Kingdom.

Everyday follows the story of a young, introverted woman who, after spending a long weekend in her apartment, must venture into the busy and unfamiliar streets that she avoids, to restock on essentials.

We recently caught up with Muhammed Bittaye, Screen and Film School Manchester’s scholarship recipient and the director of HERITAGE, and Keely Pickard, the talented writer of Everyday to explore the creative process behind these films and discuss the exciting festival selection.

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Student Insight

Where did the inspiration for your film come from?

Muhammed: The inspiration of this documentary mainly came from a filmmaker that I look up to by the name of Reggie Yates. His BBC documentaries inspired me to tell real stories based on real people and real experiences; this way, we are able to learn from one another.

Keely: The inspiration for this film came from my own experiences with anxiety and my want as a filmmaker to address topics that are common in reality, yet niche in conversation. It is my aim to educate audiences in an entertaining and educational way, allowing them to experience something they otherwise wouldn’t.

How did you approach the filmmaking process?

Muhammed: Filming a documentary is tough, so preparation is important! With this documentary, most of the time I was doing different roles, so cinematography, directing, and producing. It was important to make sure that I was prepared to get most of the shots I had planned.

Keely: This is actually the first screenplay I have ever written, as my domain is in cinematography. My writing approach was very visual and descriptive. I wanted the film to be an immersive experience in which you feel what the character, Aimee, feels based on her actions and surroundings, rather than through dialogue.

What was your favourite part of the process?

Muhammed: My favourite part of this process was definitely capturing some amazing moments of my family that I can look back on in years to come. Also seeing my grandparents after 10 years of being apart was another highlight for me on this trip.

Keely: I think my favourite part of this process was the initial pre-production stages and watching my small idea start to form into a practical reality. I was extremely lucky to have a crew that understood the vision I had from the get-go which made that process pretty smooth sailing.

Seeing the film come to life even further during shooting was even more exciting, filming through the streets of Manchester, all based on my concept and script, was quite cool.

How did you feel when you found out that your film had been selected for Manchester Film Festival 2024?

Muhammed: When I found out that HERITAGE was selected for Manchester Film Festival, I was so happy! When I was making the film, my goal was to introduce my story to people and Manchester Film Festival gave me that opportunity, so I am very grateful!

Keely: Having my film selected almost didn’t seem real. When we received the email saying we made the official selection, I had to read over it a few times to realise we weren’t just through to the next stage. It gives me slight imposter syndrome as this is a script that I wrote with no prior writing credits or experience, and I’ve also not written a script since.

There are films within the festival that I’ve worked on in camera assistant roles, so seeing my own film in that line up is a surreal feeling. Nevertheless, it’s extremely exciting to know our film is going up on the big screen. With my crew’s hard work and dedication to the story, it’s well-deserved; it couldn’t have been done without them.

What is the best piece of advice you received as a filmmaker?

Muhammed: There’s a quote that has been stuck with me since the first time I heard it. It’s something that can be applied in anything in life, not just filmmaking: ‘Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure will be your best teacher in life’.

Keely: Simply: take every opportunity. You don’t know what doors that job may open and where you could end up. I wrote this script as part of a module and now it’s making its world premiere at MFF! There’s no harm in trying something new; the more opportunities you take, the more your experience and confidence grow in your field.

What advice would you give to students submitting their films to festivals?

Muhammed: Strategise on submitting to specific film festivals that fit your film and just go for it!

Keely: Have faith in your film – and just do it! Not for a second did I think Everyday would make the official selection, but I was proved very wrong. Know your audience and tailor your chosen festivals to your film for your best chance of being selected; don’t waste time submitting to festivals that are dedicated to documentaries if your film is a sci-fi narrative short!

Finally, where can we watch your films?

Muhammed: HERITAGE will be screened at Manchester Film Festival on Saturday, March 23 12:50 – 14:50 and at the Nothern Exposure tour across the UK.

Keely: You can catch Everyday at Manchester Film Festival on Friday 22nd March at Odeon, Great Northern for its world premiere!

A huge congratulations to both Muhammed and Keely – we can’t wait to see what comes next in their filmmaking journeys!



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