GSA Alumni win at the 2023 Oscars and BAFTA awards

Tom Berkeley and Ross White holding their Oscar awards

Two Guildford School of Acting alumni are celebrating global success after triumphing at this year’s Oscar and BAFTA Awards.

Tom Berkeley and Ross White, who graduated from the BA Acting course in 2017, won the 2023 Best Short Film (Live Action) Oscar award for writing and directing ‘An Irish Goodbye’.

Berkeley and White’s success comes just a few weeks after they also won the BAFTA award for Best British Short Film.

Head of the Guildford School of Acting at the University of Surrey, Dr Catherine McNamara said:

We couldn't be prouder of Tom and Ross for their Oscar and BAFTA wins. To see graduates creating rich and interesting work and being recognised by their peers and leaders in the creative industries is truly fantastic. We celebrate their success, and we look forward to their next projects.

Tom Berkeley, Seamus O'Hara, James Martin and Ross White pose with the British Short Film Award for 'An Irish Goodbye' during the 2023 EE BAFTA Film Awards (Image: Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images)
Tom Berkeley, Seamus O'Hara, James Martin and Ross White pose with the British Short Film Award for 'An Irish Goodbye' during the 2023 EE BAFTA Film Awards (Image: Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images)

Tom Berkeley and Ross White met in 2014 as first years on the BA Acting programme at Guildford School of Acting, where they co-founded a student-run theatre company, Split Second Productions, creating extra-curricular performance opportunities for GSA students in productions which toured to festivals and venues across the UK and Europe. They also developed a shared interest in playwriting during their time at GSA, and their early plays were shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize, Papatango Prize and the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing.

Ross and Tom continued to collaborate after leaving GSA and in 2020, as a co-writing/directing partnership, they co-founded Floodlight Pictures, a Belfast-based independent film and television production company. Their debut film, Roy, was shot after the first national lockdown in September 2020, and starred BAFTA and Olivier Award-winner David Bradley in the title role, opposite Academy Award winner Rachel Shenton. Roy was longlisted for the 75th BAFTA Awards for Best British Short Film, and was acquired by HBO Europe in the same year.

Ross and Tom completed their second short film, An Irish Goodbye in 2021, a black comedy set in rural Northern Ireland starring Seamus O’Hara, James Martin, Paddy Jenkins and Michelle Fairley. An Irish Goodbye played at over 60 international film festivals worldwide, before going on to win Best Live Action Short at the 95th Academy Awards and Best British Short Film at the 76th BAFTA Awards.  

Tom and Ross are now in post-production for their third short film The Golden West, set during the intersection of the Irish Famine and the international Gold Rush.

You can watch An Irish Goodbye on BBC iPlayer.