Case study

New Tropic Pictures

An impact-driven film production company on a mission to tell stories that provoke thought, inspire change, and spark meaningful conversations.

The very beginnings

Fletcher, Floyd and Jack started University in September 2020 and quickly became close friends and colleagues - “we would frequently joke that we would spend more time together than with our partners,” Fletcher recalls.

In the first semester, Fletcher and Floyd, alongside another student George Nash,  found a particular love for motion picture film and spent a large portion of time testing out different short film ideas; shooting 16mm film on a Bolex and shooting 35mm stills photography with cheap SLR cameras as a practical way of learning how to understand the way light behaves. Over time, the group would go out and film minute-long shorts at fairgrounds, get up at 4 am for early mornings at farms and even travel to Wales to shoot a short called ‘Platform 42’.

“Our first small project on 16mm film was ‘Marshmallow’… a minute-long short film exploring the relationship of a mother and daughter who spend time together by the lake in summer,” directed by Floyd, shot by George and Fletcher.

New Tropic Pictures YouTube Homepage

View New Tropic Pictures- 'Marshmallow' Short Film video transcript

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In October 2020...

Pre-production began on their first short film called ‘Quarry’. The project, including several other students, was directed by Marta Klapan, produced by Fletcher, edited by Jack, and shot by Floyd (sometimes referred to as DOP / Director of Photography).  

“We opened a group chat for communication between students during the 4 months pre-production phase. After principal photography had been completed, we decided to keep open the group chat for future projects and collaborations… this quickly turned into the beginning of ‘New Tropic Pictures’,” Floyd explained. 

During the peak of COVID-19, the group spent weeks at a time self-isolating in accordance with the law and used the time to write all hours of the day. Soon enough, the group began to run meetups at the University that complied with the changing social distancing rules. Later, these meetups turned into weekly meetings where members could plan test shoots and build up skillsets together; try out filmmaking activities they wanted to learn; set weekly film challenges; and build relationships with one another. The meetings also offered the opportunity for students to pitch film ideas to one another and find a crew.

As the group progressed, Floyd and Fletcher began to see how beneficial it was to have a group of individuals committed to filming and ready to help one another. As the group grew and meetings progressed, Fletcher and Floyd welcomed Jack Stokes to their team. Jack first worked with New Tropic Pictures on 'The Creative', their end of first year University film. Proving himself as a competent editor and future asset to the production company Jack has since gone on to take up a more integral role in the business, now operating under the title of Technical Director. This gives Jack the responsibility of keeping the business up-to-date with technological advancements, including procurement of hardware and software for the business and heading up post-production teams.

In September 2021...

New Tropic Pictures began actively working towards the beginnings of a business plan and how it would function as an impact-driven film production company. Fletcher said, “We started with meetings to build and curate the brand and its culture. By dissecting the importance of connecting creatives, giving back to the community, and building a team with one another in mind we were able to establish New Tropic Pictures values, looks, and goals for the future.”

During their second year at the University, the team continued sharing ideas, gathering industry experience (both individually and as a team), and gaining knowledge working on short films and feature films interior and exterior of the University. Reflecting on their journey, the group explained that “at this point, we began opening the group to all film production students, and ultimately, the group had a pool of students across Years 1 - Year 3.”

New Tropic Pictures has also focused on giving back to the community by working with charities, such as PTSD999 and RSPCA Derby, on short films to help spread awareness.

“During our second year, we went to a community school for autistic children and presented a short slideshow of our films. We also took along 16mm cameras, 35mm cameras, a video editing station and stills cameras, alongside the University of Derby banners.” 

Joining the Innovation Hothouse and Be the Boss

“During the summer of 2022, we realised there was a further need for integration between the university courses to help achieve true collaboration with one another and really maximise the opportunities for both the students and the University of Derby alike,” Floyd explained.

Ready to continue their business development journey, the team needed to find a space to continue their calls, meetings, and auditions and thus, found the Enterprise Centre. Fletcher and Floyd met with Michelle Crofts, Project Officer, who introduced the Innovation Hothouse. Alongside this, the team met with Oliver Stonier, Student Enterprise Manager, and Leanne Stevens, Enterprise Champion, to discuss the Be the Boss scheme, in which New Tropic Pictures pitched their business idea.

During this time, Jack brought 'Broken Glass' to the table - a collaboration between New Tropic Pictures and PTSD999, an organisation that focuses on raising awareness and providing support to sufferers of PTSD. The production was a huge leap for New Tropic Pictures' production values and was the largest budget the company had worked with at the time. This film opened contact with Graham Cole OBE (The Bill), who they still work with today. As a result of successful production, 'Broken Glass' is still frequently screened to thousands across the country during presentations to constabularies across the UK. Recently, this project won the UNBROKEN Festival's Audience Choice Award!

What does the future hold?

Throughout summer 2023, New Tropic Pictures has undergone a re-brand! The team has been working hard revitalising their image for a fresh and exciting future, whilst Fletcher, Floyd, and Jack have graduated with first-class honours. On top of this, the New Tropic Pictures team won the University-supported Student Residency at Banks Mill which provides them with a dedicated office space, enabling a creative space for other students and seamless collaborations on future productions.

Furthermore, New Tropic Pictures has received recognition and submission opportunities for the Royal Television Society Awards with their final year films- 'Confessions LTD' directed by Fletcher Smith and filmed at the iconic Chatsworth House, and 'Maria Soprano' directed by Max Elliot, supported by Zeiss.

Large, grey building on a hillside with moody clouds and lightening
Black and white image of a woman standing on a metal bridge looking down at the camera
Confessions LTD YouTube Video Link

View Confessions LTD YouTube video transcript

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With a growing portfolio, including collaborations with distinguished figures like Sir Tony Robinson and Graham Cole OBE, and work with organisations and charities such as PTSD999, RSPCA Derby, and the Metropolitan Police, New Tropic Pictures has a new member!

New Tropic Pictures welcomes Amelia Curwen, a scriptwriting master's student with over ten years of marketing consultancy and management experience under her belt. With a recent shift into the world of film, Amelia is the perfect addition and enriches the company as a Marketing Director, focusing on social impression and engagement, brand development, and growth strategies. 

Landscape image of rolling country hills with green and brown trees, with blue sky

The latest endeavor for New Tropic Pictures is a historical documentary commissioned by DerbyCAN (Derby Creative Arts Network) which unveils the rich history of Derby's Mills, as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. In the project, the team had the privilege of collaborating with presenter Lara De-Leuw and the exceptionally talented, graduate animator and storyboard artist, Gabby Anderson. 'The Mills of Derby' will be showcased in a screening scheduled for November 2023.

Close up of a videography camera filming a large, dimly lit hall. There is a large ivory coloured staircase and renaissance murals on the walls.

“We are looking forward to a very exciting few years ahead as we look to produce more short films and raise a 1-million-pound budget in 2026 for a feature film.”- New Tropic Pictures team

The team is now in early pre-production for the next short film, shooting in 2024, and we can't wait to see the results!

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