Virgin Media has today announced the winner of the first ever Virgin Media Shorts Award. In association with FilmFlex, Virgin Media Shorts is a unique short film competition championing the best undiscovered film talent in the UK.Winning film makers Phil Sansom and Olly Williams were awarded the grand prize by host Johnny Vaughan at the awards ceremony held at the British Film Institute. The Black Hole beat off stiff competition from more than 1,400 entries, and was chosen from a short-list of 12 by a prestigious panel of film industry experts including film and stage actor Kevin Spacey, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Bend it Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. The team behind The Black Hole receive up to £30,000 towards their next film, as well as nationwide exposure to millions of people across the country. Each of the 12 short-listed films are currently being shown at 212 cinemas across the UK for a whole year, until July 2009. Phil Sansom and Olly Williams met in 2001 at the Wimbledon School of Art and have worked together before, but The Black Hole is their first short film and was made specifically for Virgin Media Shorts. It was shot in just one day at an office in Twickenham, with the help of actor Napoleon Ryan, who the duo met whilst working on a music video for British indie band The Hoosiers.In the film, Napoleon plays bored office worker Charlie, who becomes consumed by greed after accidentally photocopying a black hole, ending with a compelling twist to the tale.The winner of the Peoples Choice Award, voted for by the British public, was also announced at the ceremony. This prize was awarded to Justin Waite for his film The Hobbyist, which secured a staggering 37 per cent of the public vote beating off the other 11 short-listed films. Justin, who is also known as Johnny Vaughans former sidekick Welshy on his Capital Radio breakfast show, stars in his short film about an unusual hobby. The pair were reunited on stage at the Virgin Media Shorts awards ceremony.Richard Branson said 'Virgin Media Shorts is in keeping with Virgin beliefs in celebrating up and coming talent and Im sure the exposure this competition gives the film makers will have a huge impact on their lives. 'The Black Hole is an original, engaging film which audiences will love, Im sure I speak for all my fellow judges when I say were delighted to have been involved at such an early stage in their careers.'
While Kevin Spacey commented: 'I was very impressed with the quality of the 12 short-listed films for Virgin Media Shorts. If these film makers can show the same skill when they move on to larger and more ambitious projects, we should be in for a real treat.'
And film director Gurinder Chadha, who directed Bend it Like Beckham and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, said of The Black Hole 'Perfect storytelling within the limited time frame and with a great twist as well.'
The films will also be available to 3.5 million Virgin Media TV customers to watch for free through the FilmFlex Movies on Demand service, and the films can be watched on the website (www.virginmediashorts.co.uk).
The winning film will also be shown nationwide on Virgin1 on 18th October. Virgin Mobile customers can download clips of the films through the Mobile Bites site.