‘It’s been an insane journey’: Oscar-nominated York filmmaker jets to Hollywood

Serena Armitage. Photograph: Geordie Barrie

A filmmaker from near York has jetted off to Hollywood – but will she return clutching an Oscar?

Serena Armitage, from Nun Monkton, is the producer of Stutterer, made on a shoestring – but now nominated for an Academy Award in the short film category of the 2016 Oscars.

Described as “a roller-coaster ride of joy, doubt and romance in the digital age”, Stutterer is one of five movies nominated for the golden statuette.

The Oscars ceremony takes place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, February 28 – but Serena, fellow producer Shan Christopher Ogilvie and writer-director Benjamin Cleary of Bare Golly Films have flown out early to build on the buzz about the film.

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And their trip has been sponsored by the York Handmade Brick Company, whose chairman David Armitage is the proud dad of Serena.

‘Little project’ goes global

Serena previously produced popular television show Come Dine With Me during a ten year stint at ITV.

She said “I can’t believe this little project we were sitting around a dinner table talking about, maybe throwing a few grand into, is now going to Hollywood.

“It has been an absolutely insane journey.”

Stutterer featured as part of Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York last November.

“Thanks to Aesthetica’s support we won a Critic’s Circle Award last month, and now this month we will be at the Oscars – it’s very surreal and very humbling,” Serena said.

Matthew Needham as the eponymous  Stutterer
Matthew Needham as the eponymous Stutterer

The film tells the story of a young man with a cruel speech impediment, but an eloquent inner voice. After falling in love online, he has to face his greatest fear – meeting and speaking to his new-found love in person.

Matthew Needham plays Stutterer’s eponymous hero, alongside Chloe Pirrie (The Game) and Eric Richard (The Bill).

Already the film has been selected for almost 30 prestigious film festivals and took home the Best Foreign Film prize from the Oscar qualifying Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.

Hobnobbing in Hollywood

Sophie Cotton plays a social worker in the film
Sophie Cotton plays a social worker in the film

Serena said the sponsorship, from both York Handmade Bricks and ITV, had made their dream to attend the Oscars a reality.

It covers their flight and accommodation costs, and they are making the most of their time attending nomination lunches, doing loads of press and promoting their film across Hollywood.

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Serena said: “It was a film we self-funded out of our own pockets so the assistance received from York Handmade Brick is going to make a big impact to our trip to LA and our capability to promote the film.”

Mark Laksevics of York Handmade said:

Yorkshire has an illustrious history when it comes to film-making and Stutterer follows in this fine tradition.

It won’t be cheap to promote the film for a month in Los Angeles, so we felt it appropriate to support Bare Golly Films and to fly the flag for Yorkshire in the heart of the global film industry.