Why I have an Icelandic volcano to thank for Oscar nomination

A scene for Shok which has been nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) at this year's Oscars.
A scene for Shok which has been nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) at this year's Oscars.
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Some people thank their mum and dad. Others thank God. Jamie Donoghue may be the first to thank an Icelandic volcano for his Oscar nomination.

Shok, which was the brainchild of the Leeds director, has just been shortlisted in the Best Short Film category at this year’s Academy Awards. However, the film would not have happened had he not found himself unexpectedly stranded in Kosovo in 2010.

Leeds firlm director Jamie Donoghue.

Leeds firlm director Jamie Donoghue.

“I’d flown out there to spend three days filming a commercial,” says 35-year-old Jamie. “But before I could fly home that Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name erupted, bringing air travel across much of Europe to a standstill. It was five weeks before I could catch a flight back, so I decided I might as well get to know the country a little better.

“I made so many new friends and learnt so much. Kosovo is a really rich country in terms of history, but there is so much about the place that people don’t know. When I came back to Leeds I knew there was a story to tell, but it had to be right, both for an international audience and for the people of Kosovo.”

It took Jamie, who went to Ashville College in Harrogate, and fellow Leeds producers Harvey Ascott and Howard Dawson four years to complete the film, which is set during the bitter and bloody Kosovan war of the late 1990s and tells the story of two boys whose friendship is tested to the limit. However, the trio’s patience has now been rewarded with a nod from Hollywood and the Academy Awards.

“We flew back out to Kosovo, hired out a bar and got everyone together to listen as the nominations were read out,” says Jamie, speaking from Kosovo. “The film has done really well on the festival circuit, but the Oscars are notoriously unpredictable, so we didn’t want to second guess what the panel would decide. Hearing our film being called out was just incredible.”

Leeds producer Harvey Ascott.

Leeds producer Harvey Ascott.

The team are planning to fly out to Los Angeles at the start of next month ahead of the Oscar ceremony on February 28.

“I think half of Kosovo will also be there and no, we haven’t decided who is going to do the speech if we win or whether we should do it in Albania,” adds Jamie. “They’re questions for a later date. Now we are just sat here with a cup of Yorkshire Tea. Well, what other way would a couple of Leeds lads celebrate?”

For more about the film go to www.facebook.com/shokshortfilm, Twitter @shokshortfilm or the website www.shokshortfilm.com

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