A student from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) at Farnham has won a major award at the UK’s biggest short film competition, Virgin Media Shorts.
PJ Liguori, a third year BA (Hons) Digital Film & Screen Arts student, picked up the People’s Choice Award and £5,000 at a star-studded ceremony in London last night (8 November).
PJ Liguori, who is 21 and from Peterborough, said: “Winning something as prestigious as the Virgin Media Shorts feels incredible. When I started making short films in my garden on my Dad’s old camcorder, I never would have thought I’d gain the skills, creativity and confidence to get to this point.
“In filmmaking, meeting people is the most important thing, and I have been able to meet a bunch of great filmmakers on the shortlist and at the awards so I feel as though this award is going to open up some amazing new paths for me.”
His short PJ, Tiny Planet Explorer – about a boy’s sudden decision to leave home and find a new utopia among tiny planets – was one of 13 films shortlisted for this year’s awards which were judged by industry heavyweights including multi-award winning actress Julie Walters and The Iron Lady director,Phyllida Lloyd.
PJ’s low budget film, which was shot by BA (Hons) Film Production student Jamie Swarbrick and took one week and the price of a frozen pizza to make, won the People’s Choice Award after gaining the most votes from the public ahead of the event.
PJ said: “An award like this is a real eye-opener about how many people watch my films and are willing to support and vote for them
“Thanks so much to everyone who voted for me, and support me through this competition. That especially goes out to my online audience, all my peers at UCA, and my friends and family back in Peterborough.”
Now in its fifth year, Virgin Media Shorts gives film makers the opportunity to have their work showcased to millions of people across the country through cinemas nationwide, on TV (showcased in a new dedicated app on Virgin Media’s next generation television service TiVo®), on mobile and online. A unique opportunity for those trying to break into such a notoriously competitive industry.
Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “Britain has a wonderful wealth of cinematic talent but it’s an incredibly difficult industry to break into for aspiring film makers. With Virgin Media Shorts we’re providing a platform to champion undiscovered talent which, as we’ve seen in past years, can lead to international recognition.”
Each of the 13 shortlisted films are currently being showcased to millions of people up and down the country through four distribution channels, including cinemas nationwide (across the Picturehouse network and independents), on TV (via Virgin Media’s Movies On Demand and an app for Virgin Media’s TiVo Service), on mobile and online.
PJ’s videomaking skills have already attracted a major fan base – his YouTube channel KickthePJ has received a phenomenal 10 million hits and more than 160,000 subscribers, which has led to him being recognised by strangers in Farnham and at UCA.
He explained: “It’s an incredible thing to be known by hundreds of thousands of people for doing what I love.
“Being recognised when I’m out and about is a surreal thing and always catches me off guard because, when I’m not making videos I’m not in the mindset of KickthePJ, so it’s always a pleasant surprise when a complete stranger knows who I am.”