Four students from @S_ERC's Northern Ireland Film & Television School (@NIFTSBangor) have won a prestigious Royal Television Society (@RTS_media) Student Award.

Samantha Davies, Marc McCabe, Stephen Parker and Lee Seales won the Drama Category for their short film entitled Circles - a thought-provoking thriller that sees a man granted the right to seek revenge.

The students all studied on SERC’s NIFTS part-time HNC in Creative Media Production and then progressed to the part time HND of the same title from which they all graduated in June 2019. The team are but now attend an evening NIFTS Graduate Filmmakers Class where they have been working on several fiction scripts for production.

Alison Thompson, Course Coordinator and Lecturer at SERC’s NIFTS said, “We're thrilled that four of our very talented NIFTS students have scooped what many consider to be the biggest student filmmaker's award and we congratulate each of them on their success. Stephen wrote Circle in his HNC year and later filmed it with his three classmates, Samantha, Marc and Lee, on the Ards Peninsula. It also stars another NIFTS student, Colin Bloomer, and Stephen's young daughter, Lily. It's quite a thought-provoking thriller that sees a man granted the right to seek revenge and, in our eyes, a worthy winner of Best Drama and one that will stay with you when you get the chance to see it. 

She added, “They recently wrapped on a Short on location in Moira, a horror entitled She Cries All Night, also written and directed by Stephen Parker. The intervening months since graduation have seen them working in a range of industry posts from Trainee Assistant Director on Dublin Murders and Production Runners on Children in Need, Mastermind and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to Development roles with both Big Mountain and Stellify Media. 

She concluded, “This is fantastic recognition for the students. To win such a prestigious award at this early stage in their careers is a huge honour and an incredible boost to their prospects when it comes to securing more industry freelance positions. The NI winners will have their work showcased at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards in November as well as progressing to the National finals in London later this year. Their short film Circles will also be submitted to several film festivals at home and abroad in advance of general publishing.


The students were due to be presented with their award earlier this week, but the ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19.

No strangers to awards, the team are part of the cohort that were awarded the Creative Media Student of the Year Award in December – the first time such an award had been given to a whole class rather than an individual.

Vikkie Taggart, Chair of RTS NI said: “As an educational charity these awards help the RTS to raise awareness of the amazing home grown talent emerging from our third level colleges which play an increasingly important role in preparing future generations for a career in the local film and TV industry.

“This year’s entries all displayed very high standards of creativity, innovation and technical capability and I know the judges had a difficult task selecting our winners. We wish all our Northern Ireland winners every success in the national RTS Awards in June and look forward to showcasing their winning works at our Programme Awards in November.”

The RTS NI Student Television Awards are supported by Northern Ireland Screen, Head of Education, Bernard McCloskey, said: Congratulations to everyone who has taken part in this year’s awards. Winning an RTS NI Student Television Award gives these students a prestigious accolade to help them with their future careers. These awards are a great way to nurture and encourage the fantastic creative talent we have in Northern Ireland.”

Sponsored by Carson McDowell, Stellify Media, and Performance Film & Media Insurance, the winners of these Awards go forward to the national RTS Student Media Awards which are planned for June. The winners will also be invited to this year’s RTS NI Programme Awards, where their work will be showcased in front of the top professionals across the screen industries.

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