From education to employment

Salford graduate off to Hollywood after short film shortlisted for international prize

  • Ishan Vaidya, 25, beat off competition from 3,000 filmmakers to land coveted shortlist for new international prize    
  • Short film Puffin Island has amassed over 80k views on YouTube    
  • Graduate to fly out to Los Angeles for three-day glitzy event and attend black-tie ceremony in Hollywood    

A Salford graduate is off to Hollywood after his short film about thousands of Puffins descending on a Welsh island was nominated for a new, highly-regarded international student filmmaker award.

MA Wildlife Documentary Production graduate Ishan Vaidya, 25, will be jetting off to Los Angeles, California next month to the inaugural Sony Future Filmmaker Awards where he will be representing Salford after being selected from over 3,000 filmmakers from 140 countries.

Nominated in the non-fiction Student Filmmaker Award for his short film Puffin Island, Ishan will take part in a three-day event on Sony Pictures’ historic Culver City lot for a series of workshops to gain a vital insight into the industry and attend a black-tie awards ceremony at the Cary Grant Theater on Wednesday 22 February.

Puffin Island was shot on the island of Skokholm off the Pembrokeshire coast over the course of a week in the summer of 2022 and showcases the interactions of one of the world’s largest breeding colonies of Atlantic Puffins, who descend on the island for a short time every year.

The film, which was Ishan’s final course project, has gone on to be viewed over 80,000 times on YouTube and its success has been ‘a great surprise’ for the talented young filmmaker.

“I really wasn’t expecting this. This is such an incredible opportunity and I am going to make the most of it. I’m going to have the chance to meet a lot of other filmmakers and discuss film and I’m really excited.

“It was a great surprise to be nominated. I found it quite hard in the moment to believe whether it was true or not.”

Ishan always held a keen interest in wildlife photography and was working with the firm Go Wild Travel and Photography in his native India following his undergraduate studies in Media and Communication from Fergusson College, Savitribai Phule Pune University before he moved to Salford to undertake his master’s.

He enlisted course mate Tim Harden to accompany him to Skokholm to shoot the film and Tim later captured the narration for the 12-minute short.

“Living on Skokholm was quite an experience,” Ishan said. “There were around 10,000 plus seabirds at their natural best and it was a lot of early sunrises and long days of filming.

“We managed to get a lot of time in for shooting and as I had done a lot of research, I knew what behaviours I wanted to target for the film so I picked our locations based around what we hoped to see.

“A particular striking sequence we got was a great black-backed gull pursuing and catching a puffin. We had to wait around three to four days for it and it was on the penultimate day that we finally got it. It really shows nature in action.”

Ishan added that he received ‘a lot of help’ in developing the concept for his film from course leader Maire Tracey, teaching fellow Dr Jamie Gundry who introduced him to the island and helped plan the logistics of the trip and lecturer Louise Ready-Syrat who supervised him throughout the project.

Following his graduation in December 2022, Ishan is eyeing up a career in wildlife documentary filmmaking and is hoping his shortlisting will open more doors in the industry for him. If he were to be successful in his category next month, he would receive a range of state-of-the-art Sony camera equipment to take home with him.

Related Articles