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British Journal of Photography Open Shutter Awards

UK's first contest dedicated to HD-DSLR filmmaking names 27 year old photographer as the winner.

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Press Release:

CJ Clarke has been named the winner of the inaugural Open Shutter awards, the UK’s first competition dedicated to HD–DSLR movies, organised by British Journal of Photography in partnership with Canon UK.

The 27-year-old photographer, who works as a picture editor at Save the Children, collected his prize on Wednesday night at an awards ceremony at the Soho Hotel.

Remarkably, Mother and Daughter, produced for the charity School-Home Support, which works vulnerable children and their families, was Clarke’s first film. It was nominated alongside eight other shortlisted entries made up of short films, promos, documentaries and full-length features, some of them produced by filmmakers with decades of experience.

Two further films were recognised. The Road to Coronation Street, an 88-minute drama produced by Rebecca Hodgson and ITV Studios, directed by Charles Sturridge (whose director credits include Brideshead Revisited and Shackelton), was given a Commended. And Sowing Seeds, a short experimental film shot in black-and-white by Rob Sanders and Oliver Goodrum, was given a Highly Commended.

The Open Shutter awards celebrate films shot using one of a new generation of digital SLR cameras that, in addition to capturing still images, can also shoot broadcast-quality video. The cameras have been taken up by filmmakers and photographers alike, and are being used to shoot everything from Hollywood movies to weddings. Their small size and affordability opens filmmaking up to virtually anybody – but more than that, the access to a huge range of lenses and the focus effects you can achieve with them open up new creative opportunities.

Open Shutter was set up to recognise excellence using this emerging technology, and to encourage dialogue between the photography and filmmaking communities.

“The competition rewards those photographers and filmmakers who embrace the new convergence of technology to express their creativity and innovation,” says BJP editor, Simon Bainbridge. “They are the pioneers of this emerging field, and we were stunned by the quality, diversity and creativity of the films that were entered.

“There has been a lot of debate about the impact of HD-DSLR technology in the past couple of years, but we really wanted to see for ourselves how photographers and filmmakers are getting to grips with it. For that we are indebted to Canon UK, without whose support and sponsorship Open Shutter would never have happened. Canon is, of course, the natural partner for a competition of this kind, having led the way in HD-DSLR filmmaking with the launch of the EOS-5D Mk II two years ago. In fact, all but one-and-a-half of the 72 films submitted were shot using a Canon.”

The competition was judged by three experts with vast experience in the filmmaking world, but who also have a close connection with photography – Nicholas Barker, Dominique Green and Brian Griffin (bios below).

“It’s an interesting film and is clearly done by a photographer,” said Green, commenting on the winner, Mother and Daughter. “It’s the one that takes a step towards a new visual language that marries photography and film.”

Griffin described it as, “Very strong – it really touched me. It was straightforward, but really emotionally charged.”

“It’s a complete charmer,” said Barker. “It’s well written, acted and shot. And it’s admirably restrained and sharply focused.”

Clarke shot the film on a Canon EOS-5D Mk II, and for his prize, he wins Canon’s top-range EOS-1D Mk IV, worth £4500, along with the first Open Shutter trophy.

Mother and Daughter was produced for the charity School-Home Support. “They help families from various social strata, not least those children who would be considered ‘at risk’ and that have extremely challenging home lives,” explains Clarke. The film was produced in collaboration with production company Global Stories and is one of three films that was part of an SHS fundraising campaign.

BJP will publish an eBook catalogue to accompany the awards on 02 February, including clips from all of the shortlisted films along with interviews with the filmmakers. For more information please visit the BJP website.

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