Northcott digital commission alumnus Ralph Hutchins shines bright with new film Bonfires

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we commissioned then 16-year-old filmmaker Ralph Hutchins to create a short film, The Kickabout, and explore the impact of lockdown on young people. Fast forward a few years, and Ralph’s latest work, Bonfires, has captivated audiences worldwide, earning accolades at film festivals and being shown on TV screens across the UK.

We caught up with Ralph about how The Kickabout paved the way for his success with Bonfires.

Digital Commissions

Why did you apply for our Covid digital commission programme?

Ralph: I applied for the digital commission as I had always had an interest in film and I had been making short movies for years, however I never knew where to start or to take a first proper step into it, other than making home movies. The digital commission seemed like the most suitable call to me in taking this step.

What did you create as part of our programme?

Ralph: I created as part of the programme a short film titled The Kickabout, which focused on young people’s mental health during lockdown, and how things such as a zoom call with friends really showed how ‘boxed in’ everyone was like they were literally.

A young man sits on the grass in a park, holding a script and setting up filming equipment
Photo by Ralph Hutchins

What did you enjoy while making The Kickabout ?

Ralph: Looking back on it now, what I enjoyed the most about making The Kickabout was how professional the entire process was treated. When I was offered the commission, I was fifteen and I enjoyed being treated with respect and professionalism like a genuine director which at the time meant the world to me.

What did you learn while making The Kickabout ?

Ralph: Skills that I learned from making The Kickabout would definitely be organising casts, production schedules. Shooting the Zoom call scene, all three actors were in different locations and I was with one of them in person, so directing them through the screen not only made me think more about how people act during zoom calls in lockdown, but also made me appreciate directing in person! Also, an understanding of how important lighting in in films, this is something that has been really useful and is something I could take forwards.

Ralph’s latest short film, Bonfires, has been screened at festivals in over ten countries, including the Oscar-qualifying DeadCenter.

He has also recently been offered a place at a California university to study Film and Television Production.

Bonfires short film behind-the-scenes photo. Director Ralph Hutchins directs a crew member holding a film clapperboard on set on a farm.
Behind-the-scenes of Ralph’s short film Bonfires.

What is Bonfires about?

Ralph: Bonfires follows the story of two brothers who get caught up in an illegal dumping scheme, however as time goes on the secrets that they burn start to catch up with them and the brothers bond begins to fracture.

Why should people see it?

Ralph: Bonfires is gripping and indulging, the element of suspense is kept right until the very end and yet it conveys such a strong message about today, however I can assure people who watch Bonfires that the cinematic element is still kept, and you will walk away looking at a Bonfire or any fire in a different matter. Just like the smoke on clothes, Bonfires will stick with you.

Thanks, Ralph! We can’t wait to see what you create next!

We have lots of different creative opportunities for local young people and emerging artists, from our Northcott Young Company to our Futures development programme. Check out what’s on offer!

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