Interview: Student film-makers Jess Campbell and Alex Darby


Alexander Lynchehaun met up with Jess Campbell and Alex Darby, producer and director of the student film “Music Wherever She Goes”, who are currently setting up a fund for student short films in Oxford.

 JC: I didn’t actually get into to making short films, Alex did and he asked me to produce. I’m from a theatre background, I did Mephisto, which was less helpful than I thought it would be.

AD: I got into film by setting up a film society at school.

 AD: The funny thing now about short films is that you can do it very easily. Making a short film is not what’s expensive, what is expensive is the distribution and festival submissions. If you were to do something professionally with a crew then it would be expensive but you can definitely make something with no money.

 JC: We already had the script before we started shooting. Alex wrote it. The film was shot in one day and the sound editing also took one day while the post production took about two weeks.

One of the big problems with student films is the sound quality, because it’s very expensive to get good microphones, so we’d done all of the sound before we shot. The script was written so that we wouldn’t have the problems with sound recording.


AD: There’s not that much of an infrastructure around film, or too much help, whereas with theatre there’s so much. There’s just so much more money in theatre, so you can do it to a much higher quality.

 JC: Illyria is a theatre production company, set up by a guy called Aidan Grounds, that has made a lot of money in Oxford, and he has agreed to put some money towards a film fund. The idea is that you have a screening of the films and charge maybe £3.50 for the tickets.

 AD: You don’t make profit making short films as a professional undertaking. But I definitely think there is potential to make money within the student community.

 JC: We established the fund with the aim of creating a short-film culture in Oxford. The fund will award grants to the directors who produce the best bids for their short film: these grants can be used towards the production costs, or to cover the expense of festival submissions. The fund will also lend out filming equipment to the films it funds and at the end of each term there will be a screening of the shorts. We wanted to provide not only financial support for film-makers but also a bit more of a community- similar to the amazing community of support there is in the theatre world. So we will have a mailling list to put directors and producers in touch with cameramen and sound designers etc, and create some guides to shooting and distribution to try and de-mystify the process of making a short.

 AD: I’m going to direct a documentary, which should probably be a bit longer, this summer about an Oxford exhibition to Tibet for anthropological research about pilgrimage culture there and then hopefully a short film between Michaelmas and Hilary of next year.