BBC Three has announced a raft of new commissions for its Fresh strand – the channel’s established scheme for new directors looking to break into prime-time film-making.
The six new films will look at a diverse range of topics - from underage drinking and drug use, to the lives of sex workers, aspiring rock stars, actors with Down’s syndrome - and even modern day knights competing in a medieval fighting tournament. The films will air in a brand new season of Fresh documentaries in early 2014.
Zai Bennett, Controller of BBC Three, says: "I’m extremely proud of BBC Three's Fresh initiative, which gives promising new programme makers a platform to showcase their brilliant work. We’re all about nurturing and mentoring new British talent both on and off the screen at BBC Three and nothing demonstrates this more than the Fresh strand."
BBC Three's Fresh strand has already produced successes such as My Brother The Islamist, which won the first-time director’s award at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Autistic Me, Jamie – Drag Queen At 16, Josie And The Cancer Curse, Genocide, Mum And Me, and Transsexual Teen Beauty Queen.
Emma Swain, Controller of Knowledge Commissioning, says: “Fresh continues to blaze a trail of originality across the channel, bringing a new generation of exciting documentary filmmakers to the fore. The strand has successfully launched documentary makers like Danny Beck who made Stormchaser: The Butterfly And The Tornado and then went on to enjoy further success with I Swear I Can Sing for BBC Three and The War On Britain's Roads for BBC One. I’m delighted we have been able to support yet another run of stand-out films.”
The Fresh strand gives up-and-coming filmmakers the chance to tell stories that are relevant to a younger BBC Three audience. Themes explored in the newly commissioned films include cannabis use in Does Skunk Make You Crazy? (w/t) and underage drinking in Underage And Over The Limit (w/t). Growing Up Down’s (w/t) will follow the incredible journey of a theatre group of young adults with Down’s syndrome, while School Of Rock (w/t) follows students at a Music Academy as they study to become rock stars. Webcam Girls (w/t) will explore the lives of three young women who perform web-cam sex sessions for money. On a lighter note, Knight Club will follow a group of modern day English knights as, dressed head to toe in armour and chainmail, they enter the ‘Battle of the Nations’ - the world’s biggest and most brutal full-body contact medieval tournament.
Growing Up Down’s (w/t)
In a film that aims to redefine perceptions and explode the myths about Down’s syndrome, Growing Up Down’s follows the incredible journey of a theatre group of young adults with Down’s syndrome as they put together a touring production of Hamlet. Filmed both inside and outside the rehearsal room over 18 months, we see each actor face big challenges in their personal lives that affect their relationship with the group and their work on the play. From finding love to helping troubled friends, from body image to choosing role models, from coming to terms with who they are to living independently, the actors confront issues that all young adults face on the path to maturity. But in this film they are experienced by people with one of the most widely recognized, yet least understood learning disabilities.
(1x60; Producer, director and filmed by Will Jessop, executive produced by Paul Woolf for Maverick Television, Christo Hird for Dartmouth Films, and commissioned by Elliot Reed for the BBC)
Webcam Girls (w/t)
An intimate and stylish exploration of the secret lives of three 'webcam girls' making a living performing for fans online. The film looks at the way 'camming' has affected their home-lives and relationships, and how the pressure to perform more hardcore shows in order to gain a bigger following and earn more money has impacted upon them in different ways. One of the performers was once a talented classical pianist but rebelled against the strictures of that life in a bid to find fame as a self-created web-star. Another is enjoying the money and fame and is moving further into the sex industry as a porn performer. The third woman was formerly a successful porn star, but has left that behind and is now planning her final 'cam' performance before she sets out on a new chapter in her life - using her mind instead of her body.
(1x60; Produced, directed and developed by Matthew Carter. Executive produced by Ravinder Chahal for Special Edition Films, and commissioned by Elliot Reed for the BBC.
Does Skunk Make You Crazy? (w/t)
Does Skunk Make You Crazy? lifts the lid on cannabis-induced psychosis and asks if this mental health condition is an unintended, man-made consequence of scientific progress and economic efficiency as traditional 'organic' cannabis production has moved out of the fields and into the lab, with intensively produced high-grade strains dominating the market. Looking at skunk not as just another illegal recreational drug but as a highly successful market-leader, 23-year-old journalist Jake Hanrahan, who suffered from cannabis-induced psychosis himself at the age of 14, seeks to understand the truth behind the drug young Britain gets high on, in this authored journey. Jake will meet scientists, psychiatrists, cannabis-psychosis sufferers and the families of those who have suffered its consequences. He will examine the research on both sides of the argument and meet the people who manufacture and sell the product to try and find out if this slickly produced, highly potent and ubiquitous drug is really as harmless as its hundreds of thousands of users believe.
(1x60; Produced and directed by Charlotte Rodrigues, executive produced by Jaimie D’Cruz for Acme Films, and commissioned by Elliot Reed for the BBC)
School Of Rock (w/t)
School of Rock follows students at a Music Academy - where young adults study to become rock stars. Think ‘Skins’ meets ‘Fame Academy’, in a school where your success is measured by your individuality and out-spoken passion. With each new year comes a new breed of wannabe rock/pop stars, determined to live the dream and make it in a business where you're more likely to be hit by a bus than achieve stardom. With extraordinary access, we follow young students as they embark on a time in their lives that will define their future. This coming-of-age documentary will show in intimate detail the reality of what it's like to pursue a dream.
(1x60; Directed by Kieran Carruthers, produced by Pete Kirtley, executive produced by Southan Morris for Storyvault Films, and commissioned by Elliot Reed for the BBC.)
Knight Club follows a group of modern-day English knights as they enter the international ‘Battle of the Nations’ tournament in France – the world’s biggest and most brutal full-body contact medieval tournament and a super-tough version of historical re-enactment. As the sun rises above the tranquil French countryside, the medieval turrets of the imposing Aigues-Mortes fortress cast shadows across hundreds of medieval tents and at least 20 port-a-loos. We meet Rob, Dan, Gwilym and Sam - a gallant band of English and Welsh knights, who are part of the fledgling debut British team. Dressed head to toe in clanking armour, and wielding mighty swords, their quest is to defeat knights from countries around the world. With only a few weeks training under their chainmail, their mission is at best ambitious, at worst foolhardy. But the novice knights have that bulldog spirit and, draped in the flag of St George, they have hope in their hearts and a Ford Transit full of axes, maces and broadswords.
(1x60; Produced and directed by Matt Ralph, executive produced by Andy Rowe for Endemol, and commissioned by Elliot Reed for the BBC)
Underage and Over the Limit (w/t)
The North East has the highest number of underage drinkers in the UK, and this film follows the youth workers who are reaching out to help them. More children aged 11-15 in the North East have drunk alcohol than anywhere else in the country, and the region has the highest rate of under-18s in specialist alcohol treatment (more than twice the national rate) and the highest rate for under-18s overall admitted to hospital. This film goes out onto the streets with youth workers on the front-line as they meet underage drinkers and hear from them first-hand why the culture of underage drinking is so embedded, and follows the stories of young people who are battling to turn around their issues with drink.
(1x60; Produced and directed by Louis Grover. Executive produced by Mira King for Special Edition Films and commissioned by Elliot Reed for the BBC.)
I’m extremely proud of BBC Three's Fresh initiative which gives promising new programme makers a platform to showcase their brilliant work. We’re all about nurturing and mentoring new British talent both on and off the screen at BBC Three and nothing demonstrates this more than the Fresh strand."