Sharing a story through film is something that Reece Straw is passionate about. The student originally from Codnor, was especially keen to share the rise of the famous Val’s Gym in Heanor – which has landed him a prestigious award nomination.
Reece, 23, has been nominated for the Young Creatives Award 2016, as well an exhibition at Bloomberg New Contemporaries at The Bluecoat Liverpool and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
The fine art student at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) decided to film the gym owner on a whim, a decision he is happy he made.
He said: “I have always enjoyed art but was unsure how I could implement this into a career as it felt it could only be a hobby at the time. I saw The Stone Roses reunion gig in Manchester in 2012, which inspired me to apply to a fine art degree. Converting my Dad’s shed into a studio for six months while developing my portfolio, I secured a place at NTU.
“I quickly began experimenting with all the professional end technology at university, which led to an interest in documentary film.
“Over last summer I invested in high-end camera, editing and audio equipment as I decided my career was swaying towards photography and videography. I was itching to test my equipment and make something.
“Val came into Asda Langley Mill where I work part time, and I remember just thinking I had to go and ask him. I imagine it was quite cinematic when the idea was realised in my head on the shop floor, vac-pack beef joint in hand, and I was probably staring at Val as he walked past me. It’s a very strange question to ask someone when they don’t know you, something that I’ve found myself doing a lot and its amazing where it takes you.
“Everyone knows Val which supplied my desire to investigate the local legend even more, I wanted to tell the story and shine the spotlight on this integral part of the community.
“I plucked up the courage to go ask Val if I could make a documentary about him and the gym.
“I spent three days with Val capturing and interviewing, which I went on to edit for the following month, and finally released the film at the start of September. I received an overwhelming response, which made it all worthwhile.
“It feels amazing to be taking Val’s Gym and Heanor to Liverpool and London as part as Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016.
“Telling a story through film is the most important thing to me. It’s so rewarding meeting new people with great stories and as they open up to me,
“I feel very blessed that they put their trust in me – without them there is no film.”
Reece is now focusing on graduating in the summer and creating new work.
“I have ideas of creating my next film around a local wrestling league in Nottingham but I have much research to do, its very early days at the moment.
“I will definitely need a small crew to work with on my next project – an extra pair of hands would be very useful.
“I hope my upcoming exhibitions lead to meeting other artists and creatives and new projects.
“I think film is the most efficient way to communicate ideas, be it narrative, artistic, documentary or more commercial based, you can create an engaging work that an audience can take something from and with technology constantly changing the possibilities are endless.” For more visit www.ntufineart2016.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.