Oscar winner Serena Armitage recently visited her old school, talking to pupils about her Hollywood success.
Serena, who attended Nun Monkton Primary school, between York and Harrogate, from 1985 to 1990, produced Stutterer, which won the Academy’s Short Film Live Action category this year.
This powerful drama, which had already won a number of prestigious awards before its Oscar glory, was created by Serena’s company Bare Golly Films.
The film tells the story of the struggles a young man with a cruel speech impediment, but an eloquent inner voice. After falling in love on-line, he has to face his greatest fear – meeting and speaking to his new-found love in person. It has been described as “a roller-coaster ride of joy, doubt and romance in the digital age.”
I had five wonderful years at Nun Monkton School and it has been a privilege to return. I have been overwhelmed by the reaction from the school and the village, which has been humbling. I really hope my experience can inspire others and prove that even our wildest dreams can come true.
It was a very special experience coming back to the village where I grew up with the Oscar. The village were celebrating their annual St Peter’s Day feast, so there was a carnival atmosphere. To be able to bring my Oscar and be part of that celebration meant an awful lot to me.
Parent Anna Gawthorp said:
This was a wonderful experience, which many of our children will remember for the rest of their lives. We were very honoured that Serena chose to share her success with us. We are very proud of her.”
Serena, with her two co-filmmakers writer/director Benjamin Cleary and producer Shan Christopher Ogilvie, spent a month in Hollywood before the awards night on February 28. Their trip was sponsored by the Easingwold-based York Handmade Brick Company, the leading specialist brick manufacturer in the north of England.
We were absolutely astonished and overwhelmed by the success of Stutterer. The last six months have been absolutely extraordinary.
I can’t believe this little project we were sitting around a dinner table talking about, maybe throwing a few grand into, went to Hollywood. It has been an absolutely insane journey.
We were just delighted to get into the Aesethica Short Film Festival in York in November. Thanks to their support we won a Critic’s Circle Award last month, and then we went and won an Oscars – it was very surreal and very humbling.
We didn’t set out to make an award-winning film, just hopefully something that might get seen by a few people, but the response has been completely bonkers and I’m just thrilled that we’ve made something that resonates with its audience.
It was a film we self-funded out of our own pockets so the assistance received from York Handmade Brick is going to make a big impact to our trip to LA and our capability to promote the film.
Mark Laksevics of York Handmade said:
We are absolutely delighted to sponsor such a wonderful Yorkshire success story. In our different ways, both York Handmade and Serena, Benjamin and Shan of Bear Golly Films, take great pride in the creative process. We both strive to create well-crafted products of the highest quality.
Yorkshire has an illustrious history when it comes to film-making and Stutterer follows in this fine tradition. It wasn’t cheap to promote the film for a month in Los Angeles, so we felt it appropriate to support Bare Golly Films and to fly the flag for Yorkshire in the heart of the global film industry.
In Stutterer Matthew Needham (Sherlock) stars as the eponymous hero, alongside Chloe Pirrie (The Game) and Eric Richard (The Bill). Already the film has been selected for almost 30 prestigious film festivals and took home the Best Foreign Film prize from the Oscar qualifying Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, the Special Jury Award at Savannah Film Festival, the Best International Short Film Prize at Kerry Film Festival, the Best Drama Award at Aesthetica Short Film Festival and many more.
Serena Armitage has worked for ITV for 10 years, producing and directing some of the UK’s most popular television shows such as Come Dine with Me, Piers Morgan’s Life Stories and the BAFTA nominated TV series Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs.