Graduate film that helps war veterans
scoops three prizes

Final-year BA (Hons) Film Production students from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) have won three prizes at NAHEMI Kodak Student Commercial Awards 2023, for their film ‘When the War Never Ends’.

21 Jun 2023

The film won awards for Best Casting and Performance, Winner of the Walking with the Wounded Brief, and 3rd Place overall.

When the War Never Ends – Kodak NAHEMI Commercial Competition 2023 from Elena Zacharaki on Vimeo.

The NAHEMI Kodak Commercial Awards is a national annual film award organised by the National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image (NAHEMI). Live briefs are set by the advertising industry, and  16mm film stock is donated to the entrants by sponsors Kodak.

UCA’s Film Production students entered six films into the competition, making 30-second commercials addressing three of the four available briefs: Walking with the Wounded (Veterans Charity Group), Crunchits (Tasty Healthy Snack), and Adidas Women’s Football.

The triple-prize-winning film, The War Never Ends, was entered into the Walking with the Wounded (WWTW) category, which asked students to create a commercial outlining the WWTW mission, inspiring its audience with a rousing message.

It’s concentrated on a war veterans’ group therapy session. As the camera pans closer to the protagonist, the screen transports the viewer into his traumatic thoughts via the triggering sound of a floor fan, which resembles the piercing sound of helicopter blades. A man in the group reaches out to the protagonist and reminds him with a simple gesture that he is not alone, and the suffering ends.

Charis Coke, UCA Senior Lecturer in Film Production, with the winners

The film was created by director Elena Zacharaki, director of photography and editor Sam Byham, sound designer Dylan Matthews, 1ST assistant camera Aaron Swinden and runner Will Browne.

Elena said: “I can’t even begin to explain how insane it was to go up on stage for a THIRD time! Being on stage and receiving awards with my team was the best feeling. I was beyond excited to share this experience with those who I couldn’t have done any of this without.”

“I was always very keen to portray the feeling of loneliness in a situation that is not inherently lonely because that feeling can be a lot more impactful when you are physically in a room full of people,” she added. “The thing that makes the film stand out is the subtlety of it. The message gets delivered in a simple but powerful way and managed to put the viewer in the veteran’s position. This was achieved through Dylan’s incredible sound design and the calculated and intentional pacing of the commercial.”

Screenshot from 'When the War Never Ends'

Another clever element of the film, which made it stand out, was the teams’ novel usage of a continuous long shot that made up almost two-thirds of the entire commercial. This challenging shot included a transition from a full room to a lonely and empty one, with no cuts in between.

Elena said: “We want the audience to feel sympathy and respect for the veterans after watching ‘When the War Never Ends’. They are forced to struggle every day because of the impact that war had on their mental health, and we want the audience to see and understand how a small act of kindness can massively help those who suffer.”

The judging panel consisted of professionals from the advertising industry and representatives from the advertising agencies Libertine and TBWA, who supplied the briefs.

To learn more about Film Production at UCA, visit the course pages.