Wigan teen movie prodigy nominated for two global film gongs

A Wigan student’s latest movie is in the running for two international awards - and he’s still only 18!
Matthew Reynolds (centre) and the cast of BlackbirdMatthew Reynolds (centre) and the cast of Blackbird
Matthew Reynolds (centre) and the cast of Blackbird

Matthew Reynolds has had his latest production Blackbird nominated for Best International Short Film at the Buenos Aires International Film Festival, and Best Live Action Short at Pinewood Studios’ Lift-Off Festival.

Matthew, who has just completed his final year at Winstanley College, is already a prolific film-maker having been writing and directing films along with his company Some Guys With a Camera for a few years.

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Blackbird is a dark crime comedy set in 1985 that follows Mary-Kate, a nihilistic teenager, who suffers devastation from Thatcher’s austerity policies and a sudden breakup with her long-term boyfriend. Disillusioned with a society that mistreats her, she turns to petty crime to take the situation into her own hands.

Matthew on locationMatthew on location
Matthew on location

Matthew said: “I wrote and directed Blackbird myself but produced it with my little passion project Some Guys With a Camera, which is a creative initiative set up a few years back with my friend Conor O’Neill and older brother John.

“It’s basically for ourselves and other local artists who aim to produce and distribute our projects online ourselves due to a lack of industry help. We haven’t found professional filmmakers to be very helpful or supportive of us so far, so it’s a sort of ‘fine, we’ll do it ourselves’ attitude!”

Their last film Noel, a light-hearted Christmas film, had two cinema screenings, which was an achievement they “never expected” to get. After that, they decided on something bolder for the next film. And that’s how Blackbird came about.

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“We wanted to return to our dark comedy roots since Noel was a bit of an experiment.’ Matthew said.

“I came up with the idea whilst studying 1980s politics and society in A-level history, and wanted to use the prism of Thatcherism to comment on the current state of the UK.​ I also think the context of the ’80s was a great opportunity to capture the zeitgeist and aesthetic of the period, so hopefully I’ve done it accurately! As a history student I find it really interesting using the past to understand the present.

“I studied the films ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘This Is England’ as part of Film Studies A-level at Winstanley, they are long-standing influences of mine, but studying them in lessons only got me more inspired by their style.”

Excited by the project, Matthew wrote Blackbird’s script in just two weeks. One of his best friends, LMA Musical Theatre student Phoebe Riding, plays the lead, Mary-Kate, and two fellow Winstanley friends, Ugnius Gorbaciovas and Hannah Tyler, play the villains.

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Once the leads were cast, filming began within weeks, with the support of local businesses, such as ASAP Vintage Clothing in Ormskirk who loaned out authentic costumes from the 1980s, and The Cricketers and Civic Hall in Ormskirk who allowed the filming of larger scenes with dozens of volunteer extras.

Matthew had planned to premiere Blackbird, like previous film Noel, on the big screen sometime in early March. But with the coronavirus threat, they were forced to cancel the plans and decided to release it directly to their YouTube page on March 20.

When the film was released they received their best response yet and impressed with the reception, they began entering Blackbird into film festivals.

Currently they are finalists in the Buenos Aires International Film Festival after coming first place out of a hundred global films in the first round. Blackbird has also been nominated for Best Narrative Short at the Lift-Off Sessions run by Pinewood Studios, which involves screenings in London and Hollywood if successful!

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“We are all very grateful for the positive reception to Blackbird. For a modest film with my friends as the cast and my Nan’s house as a key filming location, it seems surreal that it’s being nominated for international awards! We definitely plan to move forward with other projects once the lockdown is lifted and it’s safe to film. In the meantime, we hope people continue to share and support Blackbird and see how far we can get with it.”

Support Matthew and his crew by following @someguyswithacamera on Instagram and by subscribing to their YouTube channel. You can watch Blackbird via this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkSYkdcyLxM)

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