Special Guests

Gradfest welcomes ideas and stories from students and professionals alike, and we are thrilled to welcome a few special guests to the festival, sharing their work with us all.

Noomi Yates, Knowle West Media Centre’s Creative Skills Coordinator, supports young people to plan and pursue individual creative learning plans. She’s passionate about contributing to cultural innovation and supporting young people to become arts producers and activists.

Noomi is coming to speak to us about some of the projects she coordinates at Knowle West Media Centre. These include programmes that created entry-level jobs for young people in the creative and digital industries, and the current project ‘From Her Point of View’, a professional training and development programme for women looking to make a career in film and TV.

Reserve tickets for Noomi’s talk here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myevent?eid=34463504269 


Aditi Rajagopal is a researcher and Yasmin White is a producer at Icon Films. Icon have worked in over 25 countries in the past two years. From Animal Planet US to World’s Deadliest Towns, the company’s ventures feature wild animals, household names and experts in a diverse range of fields to bring revelation and storytelling to screen.


Aditi and Yasmin are coming to speak to us about their experience in being part of the Icon team, and their involvement with the hit US TV show, River Monsters!

Reserve tickets for Aditi and Yasmin’s talk here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/river-monsters-and-icon-films-capturing-wildlife-onscreen-tickets-34570147241 

Hattie De Santis graduated from in 2016 and secured a job at the Bristol Old Vic as the Engagement and Young Company Assistant. Her role involves co-ordinating the theatre’s core Schools programme, produce BOV’s annual NT Connections festival and termly Young Company Shows in addition to overseeing the weekly Young Company sessions for 350 young people aged 5-25.


After graduating last year from Bristol in English & Philosophy, Jon Berry spent the last 12 months working full-time in Formula 1 while still pursuing his own writing career. Since leaving university, he has worked with RWMCD, Sherman Theatre, London Welsh Theatre, The Other Room, amongst others. Jon has worked alongside writers including Brad Birch, Owen Sheers, and companies like Theatr Dim Ffiniau.

Sam Patching is the co-founder and director of The Room Above performance space on top of The White Bear pub on St. Michael’s Hill. He graduated from the University of Bristol’s Drama: Theatre, Film and Television course last year and has since been developing his own company, Muddlebox Arts Ltd. Sam is currently working as a writer and executive producer on in-house productions.


Luce Dreznin is a drama teacher based in Bristol. She heads her own small youth theatre group, The Knight’s Players, based at Christ Church Primary School in Clifton. As a graduate, Luce has lived through the full freelancer experience, working in marketing and producing roles for the Arnolfini, Puppet Place and MAYK, producers of Bristol’s biennial Mayfest. Luce also volunteers with The Big Issue in Bristol. She is now embarking on a career in teaching and education of foreign languages.

Gisele Payvandi graduated in 2015 and went on to study an MA in Professional Acting at ALRA. Alumni include Denise Gough and Miranda Hart. While she was there, Gisele worked with directors such as Des Kennedy, associate director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. She played roles such as Marianne in Constellations and Richard in Richard II. Now that Gisele has graduated, she has just finished filming a web series and has moved to Bristol to start a new theatre company.

Reserve tickets for the alumni panel here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myevent?eid=34570344832

Julia Head is a Bristol-based actor and director. She was the co-director of Splint Theatre‘s production Out of Sky, the 6th company to be produced by the Bristol Old Vic’s Made In Bristol programme. She is an associate artist of Propolis Theatre Company, and was recently an associate director for Sharp Teeth’s production of The Fox and the Child. She is currently directing a show with Cotham School as part of the Bristol Old Vic Young Directors Project.

Matthew Lister is an independent theatre producer; he is executive producer of Bucket Club and current Stage One Apprentice Producer at the Bristol Old Vic. He has recently produced the award-winning shows Lorraine & Alan and Captain Morgan, and regularly tours work nationally. Matt has six years experience of bringing shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, working on My World Has Exploded A Little Bit (****), Bea Roberts’ Infinity Pool (*****) and Bucket Club’s Fossils (****) in August 2016.

Charlie Smalley is a Bristol-based freelance stage manager. She graduated from the University of Bristol in 2015, with a joint honours degree in Drama and English. Since graduating, Charlie has worked for a number of theatres including Tobacco Factory Theatres and Orange Tree Theatre. Last year, she toured nationally and internationally with Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory. Currently, Charlie is working at Bristol Old Vic as ASM and Wardrobe Mistress for Medea. After this, she will return to Orange Tree Theatre to DSM for their Directors’ Festival.

We’re offering you the unique opportunity to spend an hour in the company of professional theatre-makers to get all the advice you need. From networking to finding freelance work, grant applications, Edinburgh Fringe and getting a job with a top theatre company – whatever your question, our speakers have the answers.

Reserve tickets for Julia, Matthew and Charlie’s panel discussion here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/so-you-want-to-be-a-theatre-maker-bristol-gradfest-2017-tickets-33780581629 


Rich Warren is the Festival Director for Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, which he began working for in 2008. During this time he has also continued his support of new talent with roles such as talent scout for the National Film and Television School and a sabbatical in Sydney working with FlickerFest and Metro Screen.


Matthew Austin has worked on Mayfest since 2004, whilst also producing and marketing for a range of organisations nationally. He also sits on the boards of Fierce Festival, Camden People’s Theatre and Bristol Festivals, and is a Resident Tutor on UK Theatre’s Essentials of Marketing Course.

Rich and Matthew are joining forces to discuss the ins and outs of the biggest creative hubs in the arts. Join us in a celebration of Film and Theatre for the closing event of Bristol Gradfest 2017.

Reserve tickets for Rich and Matthew’s panel here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/myevent?eid=34463752010




2015 Programme

2015 Trailer

2015 Film Projects


2015 Theatre Projects


Festival Programme

From film screenings to theatre experiences, there’s something for everyone at Bristol Gradfest. Start planning your visit with this year’s official festival programme.



Gradfest has been running for several years already, and many of theatre pieces and films created have allowed students to thrive in a professional capacity already.

Have a scroll back through the Gradfest history books — see how many contemporary artists you recognise!







Film Projects