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The First Annual Matchbox Film Awards Inspires The Next Generation Of Filmmaking Talent

How do you encourage young creatives to believe that they can turn their passions and talents into their dream career?

October 6, 2021
matchbox filmmaking awards

We wanted to start an initiative that would get young creatives pumped to get out there and create something. To arm them with tools to propel them on their industry journeys. So we started a competition for the younger visions of ourselves, 16-23 year old filmmakers: The Matchbox Film Awards.

After the success of our first year, Matchbox is now a beautiful brand in its own right and we aim to nourish and grow our new community year on year. You can listen to Tom chat to Leslie McCabe on BBC Radio Sussex about the initiative and its future in more depth here.

And – we were covered in British Cinematographer. Read the article and take a deep dive into the thinking behind Matchbox below….

The film and production industries are jam-packed with talented creatives looking to get a seat at the table. Pursuing your passions can be difficult at the best of times – so what does it take for a skilled, young filmmaker to unleash their fullest potential and break into such a notoriously competitive industry?

The Matchbox Film Awards, a brand new filmmaking challenge for 16-23 year olds, sets out to answer just that., a video production agency in Brighton, launched the initiative earlier this year with one key goal: to encourage young creatives to believe that they can turn their passions and talents into their dream career.

Responding to a creative brief, entrants were tasked with the challenge of creating a 60 second film in response to the theme: “end as it begins”. How they interpreted this was left up to them.

“Our team have all been in the positions that these young filmmakers have when starting their journeys into the industry”, says Tom Staniford, Creative Director at

“I’ve always been a bit obsessed with getting people psyched up to use their talents to create an awesome life for themselves. So The Matchbox Film Awards were devised as an initiative to spark that genius and give it an outlet to channel into, whilst providing a platform for these young creatives to gain expert advice, inspiration and support in the process”.

Up for grabs were a selection of exciting prizes to help support winners on their industry journeys, including camera equipment, editing software, studio hire and the opportunity to co-direct a project with the team themselves.

“We really did not know what to expect to see from the young filmmakers and how much they would throw themselves into it”, Tom says, “but they really went to town, getting actor buddies in and custom scores composed by their mates… the level of effort and creativity was just brilliant. Myself and the other judges were so impressed!”

On the industry judging panel with Tom was a selection of established industry faces: Kim French, Head of Marketing at video agency Preen, Asatuurs Keim, an international cinematographer, and Max Clark, Creative Director at Shoot To Kill Studios.

Judges left to right: Tom Staniford, Asatuurs Keim, Kim French and Max Clark

Winners were announced at the very first annual Matchbox Film Awards Evening held by the sea – and very excitingly, in person – at Plus X, Brighton.

In a room scattered with film props and lit in ‘Matchbox purple’, industry professionals and entrants from across the South East enjoyed a countdown of the top ten shortlisted films played on the big screen, surprise bonus awards and discussions with the directors about the inspirations behind their work.

The pinnacle of the night though, was the judges Q+A, unravelling invaluable questions between the filmmakers and the experts like how to start charging for their skills, collaborating whilst remaining authentic to yourself and discussing fresh paths into the industry.

First place and Gold prize went to “Aeon” by Jake Sefton, a beautifully shot looping film showcasing the journey of a family heirloom through the generations.

Jake was just sixteen when he submitted to the competition, the youngest age permitted.

“It’s spine tingling when you think how advanced this young creative is at age 16 – with the right knowledge, choices and people around him he’s going to be working at a VERY high level. I hope he knows how good he is!” said Tom.

“I’m so glad The Matchbox Film Awards are going to be taking place annually because what it offers is absolutely invaluable to young creators”, judge Asatuurs Keim said to the room.

Silver Award Winners

Initiatives like Matchbox Film Awards are at their best when they are helmed by those who have truly walked in the shoes of those they are trying to support. Not only do they provide outlets to channel and uncap creativity, they give young creatives the chance to develop connections with others in the industry, which often branch off into surprising, sometimes career-defining opportunities.

“It has given me such a boost in confidence and fulled my passion even more.”, said shortlisted finalist Jay Taylor-Jones. “I can’t wait for the next competition!”