Bournemouth University Master’s student directing feature film


Bournemouth University student Norman Gregory, currently reading for a Master’s Degree in Film, has been in Tuscany directing his first feature film ‘A Reason to Leave’.

Film and Television stars Claire King (Emmerdale, Footballer’s Wives) and Mark Wingett (The Bill) take the leading roles in Gregory’s directorial debut. Cast and crew recently completed a fortnight of filming in Dorset, and have travelled to Tuscany for two more weeks of filming – with the film set between both locations.

Originally an actor, Gregory has decided to pursue a career in directing. He chose BU to complete his Masters in Film, as he believed the degree is the ‘best in the country for directing’. ‘A Reason to Leave’ is a part of Gregory’s final project.

The film, described as a ‘tragic redemption’, follows mother and daughter Sarah (King) and Bethany (played by Alice Bird) as they emigrate to Tuscany, and their involvement with Harry Webster (Wingett). Their reasons for their relocation are revealed as the film progresses.

The script was co-written by Gregory and BU Scriptwriting Master’s student James Cottle. Gregory lauded the strength of the script, which attracted King and Wingett. He said: “This is a really exciting project and I am delighted that Claire, Mark and Alice are playing the leads together with Simone Spinazza who joined us in Tuscany. They are all highly respected and established actors and are taking the film to another level. We have a wonderful script, co-written by James Cottle who is on the BU Scriptwriters Master’s course, the strength of which enabled us to attract Claire and Mark.”

A number of BU Master’s students have also had the opportunity to work on the film as crew members, providing vital experience as they finish their degrees.

Gregory’s tutor, Subject Leader in Film and Television Trevor Hearing, is expecting a positive response for ‘A Reason to Leave’.

Trevor Hearing said, “Norman’s debut feature film is the latest in a line of feature films to have come from graduates of Bournemouth University’s Media School in the past few years and this film looks to be just as successful. It is emotionally gripping story-telling at its best, with a recognisable cast who deliver powerful performances. Norman has drawn on his own acting career to get the best from his actors and he has delivered them a script which gives them a lot to work with. The film shows a distinctive directorial voice, combined with international locations and outstanding camerawork from a world class cinematographer. I am confident this is a film which will be talked about.”

Picture: Cast and crew on set in Tuscany, including Norman Gregory, Claire King and a number of BU students.

By Harriet Gilbraith

Harriet is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. She joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from the college with work experience for four weeks over the summer.

The First Cinematic War

By Dr Richard Berger, Associate Professor, The Media School.

Tucked-away behind the Fiveways pub in Winton, is Fampoux Gardens. Built by ex-servicemen in 1922, the garden has at its centre, a sundial. This modest memorial is inscribed with the words:

“On March 28th, 1918 the enemy launched a big attack at Fampoux. The Hampshires refusing to be driven back, the enemy received a serious defeat”.

On the British Pathé website, you can watch an eerie, flickering film of the survivors of that battle, from the Royal Hampshire regiment, leaving their ship at Southampton docks in 1919. The Great War (1914 – 1918) was the first major conflict to be documented by the relatively new medium of film.

Cinema was barely a decade old when the conflict began, but by the time it had finished, filmmaking had matured to an extent that it was being used to create a rich (and controversial) visual record which continues today. Released before Armistice Day in the November, D. W Griffith’s Hearts of the World (1918) was so controversial in its portrayal of the German troops, it delayed the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. That same year, Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms was a more sensitive attempt to present the war through a soldier’s eyes – Chaplin continued to raise money for service charities. Other films, such as King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925) tried to convince audiences that it was the USA who had brought the war to an end.

Poster for 1922 film, Hearts of the World.

Poster for 1922 film, Hearts of the World.

It was All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), which established the war film as a serious genre. It starred German and Austrian veterans and it marked the point where patriotism was turning into circumspection. A rising star of Germany’s new Nazi party, Joseph Goebbels, reportedly let off a stink bomb during a screening. The war films of the 1930’s had an American bias, largely because Hollywood was now the dominant force in cinema. Films such as A Farewell to Arms (1932, remade in 1957) and Ever in my Heart (1933) depicted an American soldier falling in love with a British nurse, and an American woman marrying a German, respectively.

As Europe was once again consumed by a second world conflict in the 1940s, cinema revisited the Great War as means to comment on the on-going one. Howard Hawks’ Sergeant York was a cynical piece of propaganda, which became an effective recruiting tool. In the UK, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) so enraged Winston Churchill, for its even-handed treatment of both British and German troops, he tried (unsuccessfully) to have it banned. Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) told the story completely from the French point-of-view, and in doing so managed to encapsulate the anti-war fervour which was now gripping America – by now locked-in another conflict in Vietnam.

T. E Lawrence may have met his end on Dorset’s roads in 1935, but David Lean’s treatment of him in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is probably the most well known First World War film. After Richard Attenborough’s adaptation of the satirical stage-show Oh! What a Lovely War in 1969, the genre declined as cinema moved onto the Second World War, and the Korean and Vietnam campaigns for inspiration.

The Monocled Mutineer (BBC TV)

The Monocled Mutineer (BBC TV)

Television took up the baton, and in 1986, the BBC series The Monocled Mutineer didn’t hold-back in its depiction of the events surrounding the very real Percy Topliss – an infamous deserter and conman. The highpoint of First World War satire came from an unexpected quarter: the final series of a historical comedy – which until then had preferred slapstick and absurdity to satire. Blackadder goes Fourth (1989) lampooned the stupidity of the British officer class, and the mindless futility of war. Underneath the laughs lurked some sharp observational truths: in his four years in France, Field Marshall Haig never once visited the trenches, or the wounded. His officers really did have nothing but beating sticks to protect themselves, and in one day alone (June 30th, 1916), 30,000 British troops were mown-down while walking slowly towards German machine guns. Blackadder skilfully negotiated these historical realities, building-up to one of the most moving endings ever committed to the small-screen.

More recently, the children’s author, Michael Morpurgo has seen his novel War Horse adapted into both an award-winning play, and a Steven Spielberg film (in 2011). But, it is Private Peaceful (adapted for cinema in 2012), which is the most savage in its criticism of the virtual destruction of a generation of young men.

For almost 100 years, different media have attempted to explain and understand the seismic event of the Great War; the battlefield has moved from Fampoux to film, books, television documentaries and now videogames. The truth we do have is in those few seconds of flickering film at Southampton docks, and a small sundial in a park in Winton.

BU International Video Competition 2013

If you are an international student studying here at BU we want to hear your story. Enter our first international video competition and tell us an interesting story about who you meet and what you experience during your first term at BU.

Where ever you’re from – whether it’s from Turkey or Thailand, Nigeria or Norway we want to know how your BU experience has affected you both personally and academically.

Choose from these categories:

A Day in your Life
Share your daily experience of study, accommodation, work or your social life as part of the BU community.

Culturally Connected
Document how you and your fellow BU students from across the world meet, share your cultural heritage and build new friendships.

Beyond BU
Bournemouth is a great place to live and study, we are lucky to be in the middle of some of the UK’s most stunning countryside. Take us with you as you discover what Bournemouth and the surrounding area has to offer.


  • Brand new IPad’s for each member of the overall winning team. The winning entry will be featured on the BU website and related social media outlets.
  • £50 Amazon voucher for the winning team in each category.

The Rules:

  • Use a digital camera, phone, or other device to film your short
  • Maximum running time for submissions is three minutes. Videos longer than three minutes will not be eligible for judging
  • Each team must have no more than four members
  • All submissions must be original and in compliance with all UK copyright laws
  • Participants may only enter one video for submission. All videos submitted will be considered for public viewing on Bournemouth University websites and related social media sites
  • By submitting the Contest Entry Form, participants agree to the terms and conditions that grant and assign all rights, title and interest in the video entered in the BU International Video Competition.

Video Submissions

Deadline for submissions is Friday 13 December 2013.
Format for entries: QuickTime (.mov), Windows Media Video (.wmv) or MPEG (.mpg).

You may submit entries by:

  • Sending the BU International video competition entry form to and then
  • Uploading your submission to your YouTube or Vimeo account. Or posting a DVD copy of your video submission to: Room 301 Melbury House, 1-3 Oxford Rd, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH8 8ES

BU student creates best film about his placement abroad

A Bournemouth University student has won a national competition for creating the best film about his placement year abroad.

BSc (Hons) Product Design student Martin Constantine spent his placement year in French town Charleville–Méziéres, working for Visteon – who design and manufacture parts for companies like Ford and Jaguar.

The film he created of his experiences won first prize in the Film Category of the British Council and Ecorys ‘Your Story’ Competition, which was open to all students who had undertaken an Erasmus placement abroad.

Martin, 23, who is now in the fourth year of his degree, has won £100 of Amazon vouchers and will attend an awards ceremony in London on November 15.

“I was just really surprised to win,” said Martin, who is from Woodbridge in Suffolk but lives in Winton while studying.

“I was really pleased to be able to tell my parents that I had won and the university as well.

“It is not really about winning the prize, it’s about the recognition of the work I put into the placement and the experience that I had.”

The video shows Martin at work, and some of the machinery he used during his placement, but also focuses on the experiences that he had outside of work – such as making new friends, learning French and kayaking.

“I got the opportunity to do things I would never have been able to do if I had stayed at home – like learning to play ice hockey,” he said.

“I was filming bits and pieces for myself anyway as I was going to festivals and historical re–enactments and I just wanted to keep a memento.”

He added: “I’m not really sure what the competition was like but I like to think that my film had a nice balance of the overall experience – so the work and the social side of things and engaging with the people in France and doing things with them.”

Erasmus placements are funded by the European Union and mean students from higher education institutions can spend a placement period of between three months and one year in another EU country.

Bournemouth University helps students to find the placement abroad and offers support throughout the year, making sure students are settled and happy.

Martin was in Charleville–Mezieres from last June to July this year, and said he learnt a lot both about industry and himself.

“I really enjoyed my placement and it was actually quite difficult to come back.

“I felt like I really had a lot of responsibility and the company took me very seriously, as if I had been there ten years and I wasn’t just a work experience student.

“Everybody went to a lot of effort to make me feel welcome and at the weekend, I was making friends and we would go out and do different things, and I had new experiences because of it.”

He added: “I think going abroad adds a completely different dimension to your placement year. By putting myself a bit out of my comfort zone, it helped me to develop much more.

“Now I can speak French and now I can say that I received an award for my film about the experience. It is something that little bit extra that makes you stand out.”

He said that the experience has also helped him decide what career path to go down after graduating.

“It has definitely given me the direction that I was never really sure about before.

“Now I know that I want to work in the automotive industry, as I found the whole experience so great.”

Watch Martin’s video