Student composition to feature in major new movie


A Birmingham Conservatoire student has hit the right note with film directors, with his film score featuring in a major new movie celebrating the birth of the co-operative movement.

Ed Watkins, 20, produced an original composition for ‘The Rochdale Pioneers’, a new movie commissioned by The Co-operative Group as part of activities to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives 2012.

The film tells the inspirational tale of 28 working men whose vision for a better social order inspired them to form the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society in 1844 - recognised as the birth of the co-operative movement.

Shot by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy (BYFA), the film stars John Henshaw - well known for roles in Early Doors and Born and Bred, and stage and TV actor John McArdle - known for roles in Brookside and Merseybeat.

The film reunited the second year student at Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, with film crew that Ed Watkins had worked with on the Julius Caesar BYFA feature which was selected for the international Raindance Film Festival and received a London premiere last year. Ed said: “I have always enjoyed music, playing the guitar and piano, but over the years I began to focus more on writing. I have worked with BYFA before and when I was approached to see if I would be involved in their latest project, I of course said yes! It is an amazing experience to work so closely with the film’s directors to create a musical concept that captures their vision.

“It is my goal to go to America and work in the film industry and the opportunities provided by BYFA are an incredible springboard towards achieving my dreams.”

BYFA is itself a co-operative whose membership consists of Colleges and Universities. It offers 14-25 year olds a unique opportunity to experience the thrills and challenges of professional feature-film production. Students are mentored by professionals from the world of film and education and are offered to experience everything from acting to make-up, wardrobe to camera, and post-production through to the red carpet experience.

It is backed by The Co-operative Group whose £1.2million six year partnership with BYFA forms a key part of its commitment to inspiring young people.

Kevin Atkinson, Director of The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy, said: “The film industry is notoriously hard to break in to and it is our aim to break down those barriers, making this opportunity accessible to all.

“Through The Co-operative’s incredible investment in the next generation of filmmakers we can give more young people than ever the chance to seize this unique opportunity.”

The film will be distributed internationally and plans are in place for it to be screened at the co-operative world festival and expo in Manchester in autumn 2012.

Actor John Henshaw added: “BYFA brings together talented people from all backgrounds and all levels of skill to work hard together to make a film. The application, dedication and professional standards are inspiring and, it bodes well for the British Film Industry that the wealth of talent out there is being supported, encouraged and nurtured by The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy.”

To follow the progress of the film or for more information visit

For further information about getting involved with BYFA, visit

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