When Brighton filmmakers Matt Hopkins and Ben Lankester founded The Progress Film Company, back in 2010 (taking name inspiration from a turn-of-the-century Shoreham-by-Sea-based silent film co.), they had no idea how truly apt their chosen namesake would be…
Many of us may not know much (if anything) about the original Progress Film Company, who created pioneering silent films, almost one hundred years ago. However, after witnessing their inspiring story on the BBC’s Coast programme, creatives Matt and Ben felt that the name must live on, to carry the torch for a new generation of south coast talent.
And what better way to do it than by creating a film company, by filmmakers for filmmakers?
The first Progress Film Company ran from the Shoreham Beach Studio, between 1919 and 1922. Its studios, along with darkrooms, a preview theatre and accommodation for actors and crew, mirrored Hollywood’s dazzling studios, albeit it on a smaller scale, and really helped to firmly put British filmmaking on the map. While they may have only produced films for three years, seventeen titles were created, with many – including the adaptation of Dickens’ Little Dorrit receiving critical acclaim, in the UK and America.
Bringing the Progress name into the 21st Century, Matt and Ben have seen their Seven Dials studio go from strength to strength, within the last five years.
Starting, back in 2010, with a clear aim; to create cinematic content in an environment that also gives young talent the opportunity to thrive, Progress began creating independently produced music videos and short films, with an emphasis on evocative and thought provoking visual storytelling. It now employs a talented team of twelve full time filmmakers, directors, producers and animators and takes on commissioned and independent projects, all over the world.
Over the years, Progress has evolved rapidly, and through working with major automotive brands, publishing giants and music clients, as well as shooting travel films and world-wide events, the local film company have spread their signature style and have quickly become known as the go-to-guys, who can make anything beautiful – an impressive feat, indeed.
But, it’s their hardworking and highly skilled Brightonian team, that the dynamic duo remain most proud of, even with their independent films, such as the online documentary series England Your England, winning industry awards and exciting on-location shoots in the Arctic and Palm Springs, firmly ticked off the bucket lists and under their belts.
Each creative professional works on a job-by-job basis for a varied range of companies, brands and agencies, across a wide spectrum and brings with them their own unique skill set, and the refreshing ability that means all productions can be created completely in-house; from conception right through to completion.
As with many creative vocations, the film industry, usually sees only short term or freelance contracts in place – something both Matt and Ben didn’t want for Progress.
Instead, the filmmakers have made a conscious effort to stay true to their fundamental vision of nurturing new and exciting talent. Just one way that they’ve made this a reality, is by teaming up with Brighton University to create and champion the David Thomas Award, which offers graduates a hands-on six month internship, allowing them to not only produce their own film, but also gain vital experience within the industry, at the same time too!
So, what’s next for this unique Brighton-based film company? As well as expanding their team with fresh filmmaking talent, starting new projects and working on their next online series, Progress are also celebrating the recent release of their feature Divorce Before Marriage and are busy submitting short film The Nature of Daylight to prestigious film festivals.
From humble Shoreham origins to paving an influential way for local talents; the Progress Film Company has certainly come along way…
Visit: www.progressfilm.co.uk or call: 01273 205640 to find out more.