SKINHEADS, lovesick men and witches are set to wow audiences at a succession of film festivals, thanks to Oxford directors.

Their low-budget movies have been selected for prestigious international festivals taking place in Cannes, New York and London. Geron Swann, centre manager for Catherine Street based OFVM – Film Oxford, said: “There’s a massive range of talent here, with new talent coming up all the time. People are realising film isn’t just something made by the big directors.

“It’s something you can do in your bedroom, with a few mates.”

The Oxford Mail met some of the film-makers whose work is setting the silver screen agenda:

Justin Davis’s 11-and-a-half minute exploration of relationships will be shown at the Short Film Corner of next month’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival, in France.

Mr Davis’s film Autumn Bridge: Memories of Love sees a lone man walk across London Bridge as he reflects on a lost love.

The 28-year-old, from Kestrel Crescent, Blackbird Leys, wrote, directed and starred as the leading man in the film.

Mr Davis, who uses the stage name Brandon Francis, has been acting since he was a teenager, and has dyslexia, which has meant he has had to arrive for audtions especially early to ensure he does not make mistakes in readings.

Autumn Bridge is the first film he has directed.

He said: I am very proud of it — it is a great feeling to see your work on screen. It has motivated me to do more film work.”

Andy Thompson’s horror film The Scar Crow was shown on the big screen for the first time yesterday, as part of the London Independent Film Festival.

The film follows four men from a City insurance company who prefer drinking and chasing women to their team-building exercises.

However, after falling in with three sisters at a pub, the quartet find themselves facing extremely gory deaths.

Mr Thompson, 43, from Staverton Road, Summertown, co-wrote and co-directed the film, which cost less than £100,000 to make. Some scenes were shot in his flat, and his son Cormac, also pictured,was roped into the cast to help keep costs down.

Mr Thompson said: “It was great fun to make, but quite stressful. We worked solidly for three weeks of 16-hour days.”

Sharon Woodward, 43, from Headington, revisited her past as a skinhead in Oxford during the ska and reggae period of the 1970s and early 1980s.

Thank You Skinhead Girl is a 45-minute documentary which details the lives and loves Sharon and her friends – including the clothes they wore, the music they listened to and the areas they hung out in.

The film will be shown as part of the three-day Official Skinhead 40th Anniversary bash, in Margate, Kent, in August.

Ms Woodward said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I feel really glad that I have said what I wanted to say, in the way I wanted to say it.”

Ali Palmer-Smith has been invited to New York to present her film Ups of Downs at the Sprout Film Festival next week.

She made the film in 2003 to highlight the achievements of her son Danny, who has Down’s Syndrome, pictured with her.

Mrs Palmer-Smith, 54, of Greater Leys, shot the film at Wittenham Clumps, at her home and at the Wheatsheaf pub, in Oxford, where Danny was performing in a punk rock band.

The £10,000 film was financed by Screen South and Carlton Television.

It was recently spotted on website youtube by festival organisers, who asked Mrs Palmer-Smith to allow them to show the short documentary.

Mrs Palmer-Smith said: “What’s so good about it is, it’s an old film but it’s still pertinent. It’s actually doing something rather than just sitting on a shelf.”

Geron Swann offers the following advice for aspiring budget film makers:

* Get some basic training and learn what you need to make a film

* Start off with a short film – make the project manageable

* Decide who the film is for and where will it be shown – is it just for your friends or are you going to take it around the festival circuit?

* Link up with other film making enthusiasts in the area. OFVM Film Oxford runs regular free networking events to bring people together

* Pull a production crew together and decide who is going to do what, including who will organise it, who will direct it, who will shoot the film and so on.

* Plan it well and plan it again – good films are made or lost in the pre-production period.

* Work out how much it will cost. Even if you are producing it on a shoestring, you will need to find some money.

* If it’s a drama, get good actors – maybe link up with a local drama group. Too many first films are let down by poor acting. If it’s a documentary, do thorough research on your subject

* Shoot your film on the best quality equipment you can afford. OFVM Film Oxford offers HDV format equipment at reasonable rates but you may be able to afford better

* Visit Screen South at and OFVM Film Oxford at to see what further help you can get.