Film lecturer’s movie wins top French post-production contract

Family Portrait 504x257 "Winning the prize from Courts Devant means we can finish our film's post production to a really high quality by working with a French co-producer." Kelly Holmes

Date posted: 9 February 2016

A film lecturer at the University of Derby has scooped a top award for her Victorian period drama.

Kelly Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Film and Media Studies, directed Family Portrait – a film which tells the tale of a family in the late 1870s enduring the macabre Victorian practice of death portrait photography.

Kelly, who has been making films for the last decade, was invited to pitch at the Paris Courts Devant Film Festival after her 14-minute movie was accepted as one of only six out of hundreds of entries.

And now, after winning the top prize, she will receive free postproduction for the film through a French co-producer and a broadcast contract to screen the film on national French television on the second biggest channel in France called France 3.

Kelly, director of the film, said: “Winning the prize from Courts Devant means we can finish our film's post production to a really high quality by working with a French co-producer. It also means the film gains a larger audience by being screened on national French television, which is just an amazing gift.

“I had just sat on my seat on the Eurostar when I got the call from the film festival and I felt stunned. I honestly did not think we would win, so that felt like a really happy train journey home.”

The film was shot over three days at Pollok House, in Glasgow, and features nine actors – including Allison McKenzie and Douglas Russell, both from ITV’s recently aired series Beowulf.  

Family Portrait tells the tale of Margaret who must convince her daughter Louise to take responsibility after the death of her father while keeping up appearances with a family portrait.

The film revolves around the taking of a death portrait photograph, which was a common practice in the Victorian era.

Kelly said: “I chose to make this film after attending a pitching session in Edinburgh during a sabbatical and loved the writer’s feminist take on the Victorian period of the 1870s. The film is also quite macabre and that fitted into the types of stories that I tend to direct.”

Kelly attended the festival and met with other film professionals to network and discuss potential co-productions.

The film is expected to be completed by Spring 2016 and will be broadcast within the year.

Kelly added: “I feel excited about the process as this is the first time I have entered into an international co-production. The rest of the postproduction, including sound, music and final grade will all happen in Paris now, which is a unique opportunity.”

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