Case study

New Tropic Pictures

Impact-driven film production company based in Derby and founded by two university friends, Fletcher Smith (Creative Director) & Floyd Parker (Strategic Director).

The very beginnings

Fletcher and Floyd 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, the pair found a particular love for film and spent lots of time learning and testing out different short films. Throughout their time at university, Fletcher and Floyd, along with another first-year student, George Nash, developed an understanding of cinematography in the form of 16mm film and 35mm stills photography with cheap cameras.

As a way of learning how to understand light and to practice their filmmaking skills, the trio would go out and film mini shorts at fairgrounds, early mornings at farms and even travelled to Wales to shoot a short called 'Platform 42'.

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

New Tropic Pictures YouTube Homepage

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

In October 2020...

Pre-production began on their first short film called ‘Quarry’. This project is being produced by Fletcher and Floyd as the director of photography (sometimes referred to as DOP).  

“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. 

This was happening during Covid-19 so the group began to run meetups at the University that complied with social distancing rules. Later, these meetups turned into weekly meetings where members could plan test shoots and build up skillsets with filmmaking activities they wanted to try out, learn about peers and push their creative inspiration. This 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 as a technical director. Jack had previously worked as an editor on two short films called ‘Quarry and ‘The Creative’.

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. 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.”

In their second year at university, the team continued sharing ideas, gathering industry experience, and gaining knowledge by working on short films and feature films interior and exterior of the University. Reflecting on their journey, the pair 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, Fletcher and Floyd needed to find a space to continue their calls, meetings, and auditions and thus, found the Enterprise Centre. The two 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.

What does the future hold?

Currently, New Tropic Pictures are working on films for their final degree show. A selection of films are being produced, including but not limited to 'Confessions LTD', 'Know You', and 'Maria Soprano'.

“We are looking forward to a very exciting few years ahead as we look to produce 4 more proof of concept pieces in the summer and raise a 1-million-pound budget in 2024 for a feature film.”

Confessions LTD YouTube Video Link

View Confessions LTD YouTube video transcript

Confessions LTD is the story of a billionaire tycoon who hires a deathbed confessor to crash his funeral. Certain scenes within the film are to be shot at Chatsworth House and will star English actor, Graham Cole.

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