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Suffolk New College filmmaker lands assistant director role on new Winston Churchill film

PUBLISHED: 15:30 16 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:19 15 February 2018

Suffolk New College student Chris Kotynia, who landed work as an assistant director on a new biopic of Winston Churchill. Picture: CONTRIBUTED


An aspiring Scorsese who is working towards a media diploma at college has made his first steps into the filmmaking industry after gaining a work placement as an assistant director on a new film production.

Chris Kotynia, 19, is currently studying at Suffolk New College on a level three extended credit diploma media course as he attempts to carve a career in the film industry.

Thanks to an opportunity by his tutor Jon Saward, the budding director was able to spend two days behind the cameras on a new film about Winston Churchill, filmed in Harwich and Brantham, near Ipswich.

Significantly, Chris was able to work alongside the cinematographer Colin Clarke and director John Fleet to learn the tricks of the trade.

“I was on set for 31 hours over two days working as an assistant director,” the 19-year-old from Ipswich said.

“I learnt so much from John Fleet and Colin Clarke.

“I was paid – but the best thing about this is the director wants to work with me in the future. That is much better than money.

“For me, it was the greatest work experience I’ve ever had.

“I think that [work experience] is what you have to do. If I work hard for my goals, I can do what I want in the future.”

The assistant director work follows Chris’ first experience on a film set when he spent a few nights working as an extra on the upcoming Paul Bettany film, Journey’s End, which was filmed just outside Ipswich.

He is now eyeing a place at university to continue pursuing his film ambitions, but said that the college’s atmosphere and tutors helped him take his first steps into the career.

He added: “Ed Sheeran has proved that you can live in Suffolk and make it big on a global scale.

“He has done it with his music. I’d love to do it with my films.”

Tutor Jon Saward added: “We always offer our students opportunities outside of the classroom as much as possible when they arise.

“The more experience they can gain in this way, the more chance they will have of building their CVs and becoming more employable.

“Chris grabbed this opportunity with both hands and it looks like it will lead to more opportunities.

“We will be supporting and helping Chris and all of our students in a similar way.”

The as-yet-untitled Churchill film is due for release in 2018.

Chris is the latest Suffolk filmmaker to land a work placement on a professional production.

In July, Lowestoft’s Aine Kirwan landed a placement on the set of Detectorists, while Sudbury-based filmmaker Grace Diggins scored a slot on Ridley Scott’s latest film which came to Elveden Hall in July, thanks to Screen Suffolk.

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