Posted on 10th October 2023

Education Partnership Spotlight: How UWE Students Put Sustainability First with Their Award-Winning Commercial Footprint Follows

Amy Smith recently completed a Filmmaking undergraduate degree at UWE Bristol, and is the producer of Footprint Follows, one of the winners of Best in Brief  for the Soil Association at the 2023 Kodak/Nahemi Student Commercial Awards. ‘I got into being interested in filmmaking when I started the BFI Film Academy’ she explains, referencing the nationwide screen industry courses run by the BFI for 16-19 year olds. ‘That opened my eyes to the film industry.


Finding more freedom and accessibility in visual communication, Amy jumped at the chance to learn more about filmmaking and how to use it as her creative platform to tell stories. ‘But also, on the other side of things, I just love watching films. I think it’s really interesting to see different audiences’ perspectives on different films – you can get thousands of different answers to a film, there’s never one.’

As part of their Filmmaking course, UWE run the albert Applied Skills for a Sustainable Media Industry module as part of the albert Education Partnership, in order to prepare their students for the increasingly prominent role of sustainability in the screen industries. ‘One of our lecturers did a whole module on albert; how it’s implemented in the industry, how you can implement it in your own work.’ Then, ‘we had a commercial module, and every year one of our lecturers John – he’s an absolute legend,’ Amy insists on adding, ‘he brings in the Kodak competition.’

The Kodak/Nahemi Student Commerical Awards are run annually and set the challenge to university students across the UK to create a 30 second commercial, using one 10minute roll of 16mm celluloid film, from four briefs set by advertising agencies. ‘Kodak joins with loads of different organisations like the Soil Association,’ a collaboration initiated between Kodak and the Soil Association in 2023 by John Podpadec of UWE himself. ‘My mate Liv, the director of Footprint Follows, had this wacky idea. To be honest, I’m not a thousand percent sure where it came from.’

The commercial takes place in a church during a wedding, where the excited chatter of the guests is contrasted with a surreal 6ft carbon footprint that follows the bride down the aisle and looms at her shoulder during the celebration photos. ‘Obviously, the climate crisis is a very dark topic and it’s very hot on a lot of people’s minds. It can be quite upsetting,’ Amy explains. ‘We wanted to use a rom com style in our commercial to bring out a comedy effect. And, at the end of the commercial, you’re thinking about your own carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is your partner for life, so obviously there’s themes of how you can change that, that’s the effect we wanted to give.’

This is clearly what the Kodak judges could see when choosing their winners, with Amy’s team being recognised out of hundreds of submissions. ‘I think we were just blown away,’ she says about the other productions Footprint Follows was up against. ‘It was a really high standard and everyone did such an amazing job.’

But it wasn’t just onscreen sustainability that played a part in the creation of this award-winning production. ‘Footprint Follows has these connotations with a wedding, and how weddings can be very unsustainable,’ from buying new one-off occasion clothes, to extensive transport, ‘all these things that really contribute.’ To combat this on their own production, the crew asked cast to bring own reused or second-hand clothing. Even the wedding dress was bought from a charity shop!

Using car sharing and public transport to get to set was also encouraged by the team, and the production even went to the effort of hand preparing entirely vegan catering after finding the meat-free options available at supermarkets limited. ‘It’s extra consideration, for sure,’ Amy says on preparing a sustainable production. ‘But also, it’s really not that hard. I went, why don’t we try and make this as sustainable as we can? It makes sense.’