From Buckhaven to the bright lights

On location for 'Oakwood', directed by Buckhaven-born Andrew Cumming.
On location for 'Oakwood', directed by Buckhaven-born Andrew Cumming.
  • Directorial skills
  • Short film
  • BBC iPlayer

A Buckhaven High School graduate has been showing off his directoral skills with a short film on the BBC’s online iPlayer service.

Andrew Cumming finished high school in 1999, but it was while he was a pupil there that his love of art began, and that would soon flourish into a desire to work in films.

I want things to be cinematic

Andrew Cumming

Now nearly two decades later, he has worked in the industry for over 15 years and is currently working towards his first feature film following the success of the iPlayer short, ‘Oakwood’, which tells the story of 16-year-old William who is desperate to be a punk music star and leave his farming routes behind.

Andrew explained: “When I was at school, there wasn’t as much access to cameras, so I started in painting and ended up going to the Duncan and Jordanstone School of Art in Dundee, where they have an animation department.

“While I was there, I released just how long animation actually takes, and so I started mucking around with cameras. The film making didn’t start until I actually left art college.”

Coming back to his routes, Andrew worked with the Buckhaven Theatre on a number of productions, before heading to the National Film and Television school for a one year course in 2005.

After moving back to Scotland and trying to make it in the industry here, Andrew decided if he was serious about becoming a director, he would have to get his masters, and achieved this back at the National, graduating in 2013.

“The National has recently been voted as the top international film school in the world, and as part of my masters, I had my final year film shown at the BFI in Southbank in London.

“From that, I was able to get an agent, and the film has been optioned for a TV show that we’re currently working on.”

So with a TV show and ideas for a feature film in the works, the Buckhaven boy is certainly in demand.

‘Oakwood’, which was released online at the beginning of the month, has received brilliant reviews from publications such as the Radio Times and Sunday Times, which complimented the director on the “beautifully shot” short.

“That’s my kind of style,” said Andrew. “I want things to be cinematic.”

But even though the direction might be quintessentially ‘Cumming’, the genre is quite a change from his normal style.

“I like thrillers and dark films and did my dissertation on David Fincher. I love that unrelenting style, he’s not afraid to look into the dark corners. Hitchcock and Polanski are two other directors that I really admire.

“So with Oakwood being more of a family drama, it’s quite a different style for me.”

Oakwood, which stars Life on Mars actor Dean Andrews, alongside Kai Alexander and Esme Nichols, is available on iPlayer until next year.