English Riviera Film Festival 2018, Beard Envy

[Photo by Appleton Event Photography]

From humble beginnings as a one film event, The English Riviera Film Festival 2018 now spans across two-weeks and several venues across the Bay. It will run from Saturday 27 October until Friday 9 November. The growth of the event is an amazing addition to the ever-improving calendar of things to do in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

This year’s programme is packed with films, talks and the 2018 English Riviera Film Festival Awards. A must for film fans and a great opportunity to network with film industry professionals and film selection with something for everyone.

Led by a true enthusiast and film lover, John Tomkins, The English Riviera Film Festival 2018 promises to be an incredible two-weeks of entertainment.

The English Riviera Film Festival 2018 highlights

Here are our pick of this year's event highlights and things you should definitely go and check out!

  • Borley Rectory: a full screening of celebrated director Ashley Thorpe’s award-winning live action/animation vision of the most haunted house in Britain

  • Beard Envy - Festival Director John Tomkin’s latest short, fresh from shortlist success at the New York Lit Film Festival

  • The Nominated films and Awards Presented for Best Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay and the first English Riviera Film Award

  • War Stories: Author Chris Robillard presents documentary film of untold local stories from World War 2

  • The English Riviera From Above: Festival favourites Skyflicks are back with a new selection of breath-taking aerial footage of Devon’s golden playground

Meet John Tomkins - Director of the English Riviera Film Festival

The English Riviera Film Festival 2018, Director John Tomkins

John is originally from South East England where he spent his formative years visiting Leicester Square in London to watch the latest (film) releases, which is where his love of film/cinema started. The love of cinema combined with many years of experience in management roles helped him decide to turn his hobbies and interests into a full-time career when he successfully launched his production company in 2015.

We met up with John to learn a bit more about him, what inspires him and the struggles of putting together such an event like the English Riviera Film Festival. Here is what he had to say...

How long have you been involved in making films?

For as long as I can remember! I started making music videos for friends before moving into narrative film in 2008.

Since then it has been a joy to direct some great collaborative production teams from across the South West. One of the most enjoyable was “A Dark Tale” in 2013, in which the make-up team had to create 30 extras in zombie/death mode to for the scene filmed at Oldway Mansion; the location for the “Waiting Room” for the afterlife. Some members of that team have gone on to work on some great films like the last Star Wars for example.

I have also spoken to many business leaders and students about making films in the local area. This year has been great fun to work with the awesome team at Bygones on their latest promo. There are some great documentaries in Torbay, having success in New York Film Festivals with the creative film “Beard Envy” and collaborating with an 80’s pop star on a  new music video (which was shown on US TV).

How did The ER Film Festival come about?

It stemmed naturally from my experiences of filming in the English Riviera, seeing this great local film community grow, along with a passion to promote the local area to international film companies. I, like so many others, always loved to have a film festival in the Bay.

An advert on Facebook for a local event, the Riviera Fringe came up in 2015, I phoned the organisers and offered to put on a film day at the Torbay Hotel. The film event was a phenomenal success, which was down to the awesome support of the team and the audience who attended.  Every year since the event has got slightly bigger with last years being a seven-day festival and this year through amazing film/local community support is a two-week festival.

Key to the English Riviera Film Festival is the English Riviera Awards which has opened up the festival to an international audience with last years winners coming from Devon, London, Canada and Japan.

Where do you get your inspiration from for making films?

From as long as I can remember I loved entertaining people and really enjoy telling stories. In the past year or so I have heavily moved into making documentaries locally, finding out inspiring stories from across Devon.

What has been the difficulties in setting the English Riviera Film Festival up?

Not everyone realises this, but the festival is organised by a group of volunteers, which adds up to 150 hours of personal time. We work on a very small budget to put on a massive film festival each year, so any public support like being on the English Riviera website is hugely appreciated.

What can people expect from this year's event?

English Riviera Film Festival 2018, Borley

The phrase “there is something for everyone” takes an emphasis this year.  We have the launching, opening day at the Palace Theatre where the opening feature film being “Borley Rectory” starring Reece Shearsmith (of The League of Gentlemen fame), host talks/screenings and the second English Riviera film Awards screening/awards ceremony (with many Directors - filmmaker nominees in attendance).

Then, following two weeks of events, the Artizan Gallery is putting on a photo Exhibition by multi-media artist Lee Fletcher and cocktails-conversation event about the history of Torbay film with Kevin Dixon.

Torquay Museum have an awesome event for young people celebrating the Mexican 'Day of the Dead Festival' and two film premiering later on the following week. The Blue Walnut are hosting an event with a spoken word artist - animator Jamie Harry Scrutton. We wrap this years festival at The Lucky 7 club with a charity screening of the feature film "Daddy’s Letter" which was filmed in and around Brixham.

Why is it such a good location for the event?

The English Riviera to me just screams an awesome film location! We have so much great scenery and locations for any film production. From your independent films to the latest blockbusters.

Where do you plan to take it in the coming years?

We hope to continue to grow the festival and support up and coming filmmakers. Plus more importantly to put our festival on the International Festival map as most got to attend and show their film.

What is your favourite film and actor/actress?

I would say the “Rocketeer”, as the old style cinema magic in the score, pacing and casting. My favourite actor would have to be Gary Oldman, he is a chameleon on how he acts each film and role, particularly phenomenally in “Churchill”. My favourite actress would either be Judi Dench or Emma Stone. Two great actresses and phenomenal actors.

English Riviera Film Festival at The Palace Theatre

The Palace Theatre is right at the heart of this year’s English Riviera Film Festival, it is quickly becoming synonymous with this ever-growing event. They are extremely proud to welcome the festival, a celebration of the film both locally and internationally.

They will be showing the award-winning Borley Rectory, an animated feature documentary starring Reece Shearsmith and narrated by Julian Sands. War Stories local author Chris Robillard shares his passion for true and untold of Heroics in World War 2 (including his Torquay born Father), which has been turned into a series of books by author and a documentary series. With his book ‘Captain and Mrs Jones’ featured on the BBC and national press.

There will be a new film looking at the English Riviera from above from Skyflicks media, a film about a surreal journey of looking for the perfect beard called ‘Beard Envy’ (fresh from its success from festivals in New York) and we have the 2018 English Riviera Film Festival shortest award-nominated films, shortlisted from films/filmmakers from across the world. The day closes with the 2018 English Riviera Film Festival Awards for Best Film, Director, Actor, Actress, screenplay and the first English Riviera Film Award.

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The world comes to Torbay for the 4th English Riviera Film Festival The English Riviera’s very own film festival is back - and attracting the international attention of producers and directors from around the world. The introduction of the English Riviera Film Awards have brought a new dimension to the festival, with last year’s event seeing winners from Canada and Japan and representatives from Italy attending the awards ceremony.

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