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Meet the Notts Filmmaker Who's Set a Second World War Film in Hucknall's Arc Cinema

30 November 21 words: George White
photos: Jill Palmer

Notts filmmaker Bradley Severn’s introspective short A Picture of Memory aims to shine a light on the brutality of war. We hear about what the movie involves, the messages it is trying to convey, and how The Arc Cinema in Hucknall played an instrumental role in its creation…

Here at LeftLion, we like to focus on the local screen scene - and it doesn’t get much more local than a movie set inside one of our very own cinemas. A Picture of Memory, the debut short from Hucknall’s Bradley Severn, is exactly that, following a Second World War veteran’s trips to The Arc Cinema in his hometown, as he uses films as a way of reflecting on his troubled past. 

For Bradley, his favourite movie theatre was key from the very start of the project. “When I went there a while ago I said to the manager, ‘I’m really interested in creating films,’ and he told me that if I ever wanted to shoot there, I could. As soon as he said that I had in my mind a story that had the cinema at its heart,” the first-time filmmaker explains, adding that he wrote the script almost overnight following that game-changing conversation. 

Arc continued to prove invaluable throughout the filmmaking process, offering not only a space to shoot but also on-screen talent for Bradley to benefit from. “I had some of the actual cinema crew take part in the film,” he says. “It was key for me to get the staff involved - it helps to create a stronger sense of reality. At the end of the day, they know how to play their roles better than anyone!”

I wanted to highlight how war is portrayed in films versus how it actually was for those involved

With the Second World War at its centre, A Picture of Memory is joining an area of cinema that has been widely explored in the last seventy-odd years. Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t still important messages to deliver. Through developing a direct comparison between the often over-glamorised way in which war has been depicted on screen, and the harsh, brutal reality for those who fought on the front line, Bradley is hoping to show the “real life” version of this vital moment in history. “It’s showcasing two contrasting World War stories: one made up for the cinema and one that’s an actual experience. Although they’re both quite similar on the surface, they ultimately highlight how war is portrayed in films versus how it actually was for those involved.” 

Creating a short from scratch is an impressive feat for Bradley, who has never formally studied filmmaking - preferring instead to learn first-hand through “trial and error”. Watching tutorials online and putting them into practice has helped to refine his skills, but ultimately there is no better way to grow than by learning from the best in the business. Constantly studying the biggest directors in the game is crucial, Bradley says, as he attempts to analyse their approach to certain shots and recreate their techniques in his own unique way.

Once A Picture of Memory becomes available to the public, the young filmmaker’s focus will turn to submitting the short to festivals both in Notts and across the country. After that? There are plenty of other ideas up his sleeve. But one thing’s for certain - each project will revolve around one very specific aim. “Whatever I do, I want to make sure there is a thought-provoking message at the centre of each of my stories. If I can use any of my films to help others, that’s absolutely what I want to do.” 

A Picture of Memory will be available to watch on the Severn Film Studios YouTube channel from Thursday 2 December.

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