Former UCLan theatre student receives 15 international awards for debut film

A film director and former BA Theatre student from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has won multiple international film awards for his debut short drama film The Fronts of War.

By Aimee Seddon
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 12:30 pm

Tom Gardner, 25, from Windermere, Cumbria, told the Post that he is “completely taken aback by how well it has done”, having made a major impact on the festival circuit.

The UCLan alumnus has won 15 accolades to date, nine in India, two in the United Kingdom, and one each in Japan, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands.

These include the Jury Award for Best Director at the Europe Film Festival, seven wins for Best Short film (including International and War categories), and two Debut Film Maker awards.

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Former UCLan theatre student, Tom Gardner (centre) has won 15 international awards for his debut film The Fronts of War.

The film received a further five nominations, and was additionally selected to be screened, out of competition, at festivals in America, Brazil and Hungary.

The award-winning director said: “Ever since graduation I have been looking for a project which is close to my heart and this is definitely a passion project. The cast and crew were absolutely incredible throughout and it's as much of their success as it is mine. This was a collaborative effort and I am overjoyed that I could work alongside such talent. I am incredibly grateful for everyone's support throughout the making of this film and the response from people has been overwhelming.”

Tom directed The Fronts of War in Maidstone, Kent as well as shooting scenes in Keswick at the scenic tourist attraction Frair's Cragg.

The film was co-written with screenwriter Olivia Lewis-Brown and starred actors Adam Grindley, and Aaron Fraiser, who was nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Short Film Festival in Italy.

Tom says that studying theatre at UCLan taught him artistic discipline and to always strive for the best.

All three are also UCLan alumni, with Adam studying on the same course as Tom.

Commenting on his time at UCLan, Tom added: “I studied at UCLan between 2015-2018 and nearly had to resit my first year after a perforated duodenal ulcer forced me into having emergency surgery.

“Fortunately I managed to pass and overall my memories of UCLan were amazing. My sister had studied on the nursing programme so I knew about the University before I enrolled. It was such an eye-opener to meet so many different people from different backgrounds. Studying an arts course provided me with many contacts whom I still keep in touch with today. My first time in anything film-related was when I played a supporting role in Bastion, a film made in 2016 by the UCLan film production course. It fascinated me how the film was made, and I wanted to explore that further.

“Studying theatre at UCLan taught me artistic discipline, to always strive for excellence and to never settle for second best. My tutors gave me so much guidance and, if anything, they are the ones to thank for my success. Without Krissi Musiol, Mike McKrell, Chris Gilligan and Mike Pacey and their incredible insight into the arts, their techniques to craft theatre and its many different strands of performance, then I highly doubt I would be where I am today.”

You can watch The Fronts of War on YouTube here, as well as the official trailer.

Tom is now also in the development stages for a prequel film to be shot in November back in Kent.

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