Bewitching film pitch wins cash bursary

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A student filmmaker has received a cash boost to fund an ambitious period drama set during the witch trials.

All third year Film and Media Production students were invited to apply for the bursary and five shortlisted students presented their film ideas to company director Mike McDonald.

Mike explained: “One of the reasons we chose to do it in this format is so that the students can experience what it is like to deliver a professional pitch and get feedback that they can learn from. Even though there is only one winner, hopefully all the students involved enjoyed the experience and feel the benefit.

“What stood out about Bethan’s pitch is that she gave me all the information I wanted to know. I knew why she wanted to make the film, what she wanted to do with the money, and she convinced me that it would be money well spent.”

‘The Trial of Marian Baxter’ is an LGBT love story set during the 17th century witch trials and will be shot on location in Stoke-on-Trent at Hem Heath Woods. Thanks to the extra funding, Bethan also hopes to film at Ford Green Hall which dates back to the 1600s.

Bethan said: “It is absolutely amazing and is such an honour! I didn’t think I was going to win because I was so nervous doing the pitch. I’m chuffed to bits!

“I love production design and all the research that goes into making it historically accurate. Without the bursary I wouldn’t have been able to afford the detailed props, costume and set assets to make it look convincing.

She added: “It will enhance and refine my project to be the best it can be, which will hopefully help the film to get more attention when I distribute it at festivals worldwide. This bursary has been a blessing!”

Inspired Film and Video’s founding members met while studying at Staffordshire University and have been supporting students through bursaries for the past five years.

Mike said: “We want to reward good ideas and provide budget for students who have a great film concept but otherwise wouldn’t be able to realise it. We have close links with Staffordshire University and many graduates go on to work for us, so this a way for us to give back and nurture future talent.”

The bursaries were made available through the Staffordshire University’s Horizon Fund which provides scholarships, bursaries and opportunities for students funded by donations from supporters, staff, alumni and the public.

Find out how you can support the Horizon Fund and make a donation at

Amy Platts

Media Communications Officer

t: 01782 292702

07799 341911


Staffordshire University is a Civic University which plays a leading role in improving the regional economy and enhancing quality of life in local communities. We pride ourselves on being connected to the needs of students, academic partners, business and society.

We ranked 6th for social inclusion in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 and were in the top 15 for Student Satisfaction in the Complete University Guide 2022.

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