Shyam Doonga

Young Fulham filmmaker hopes to turn heads with new drama

A Fulham filmmaker is hoping to make an impact with his first feature-length movie, shot on an antique 50-year-old camera.

Shyam Doonga, 30, of Kingwood Road – just round the corner from Craven Cottage – is entering the 80-minute drama in a series of festivals, and is already hard at work on his second film.

Honours in Attendance is about university life, but unlike most of the feelgood movies already made about students, this explores darker, less clear-cut topics.

Shyam Doonga
Fulham filmmaker, Shyam Doonga

“A lot of people I was at university with dropped out because they lived at home, and didn’t feel part of the student community,” said Shyam, who studied law at Queen Mary’s, Mile End.

A fan of the 80s American college film genre, Shyam avoided the tale of those who sail through uni and land good jobs, and focused instead on a forgotten army whose university days are anything but the happiest of their life.

The spectre of lifelong student debt, and mental illness, are themes alluded to in the film, which was shot on location in London (including streets off Fulham Road) on a vintage Super 16mm film camera, bought on eBay for ‘several thousand pounds’.

Including the physical film reels themselves, the total budget for the film was around £10,000.

“I wanted it to look like a proper film, and I got lucky and bought this 16mm camera from a collector. It dates from 1965, and it gives the film a particular ‘look’,” said Shyam, who was born in Hammersmith Hospital, and attended All Saints primary before winding up in the sixth form at William Morris in St Dunstan’s Road, W6.

While Shyam wrote and directed the film, his co-producer and buddy is Ish Norris, 30, who also appears in Honours. The pair met at school when they were 13. “Students are under a huge amount of emotional and financial pressure to attain a good education and fulfil family expectations,” said Ish. “Shyam’s film captures the alternative university experience of live-at-home students.”  

The pair have formed their own production company, Blue Spectre, and are now working on a full-length London spy drama as the follow-up movie… hopefully using a 35mm film camera for some sequences, as well as the trusty old 16mm antique.

“It was seeing some people have a torrid time at university that first gave me the idea for the film,” said Shyam. “This side of uni life hasn’t really been done.”

Follow this link to see the Honours in Attendance trailer.

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