Christopher Evans, NFTS Directing Documentary graduate 2010, passed away in late August at the age of 45 in a tragic accident. Here, in a moving tribute, his fellow students and friends remember him:
“Chris made a big impression on everyone he met: a six-foot-four bear of a man whose Italian accent came as a surprise. With Welsh and English roots, Chris grew up in Bergamo, Italy, moving there from Australia with his mother and older brother Michael.
From the moment Chris’s fellow documentary students in the 2008 intake watched his application film, they knew he was a big talent. Will Woodward remembers one tutor quickly declaring Chris to be “ahead of the game”.
Given one MiniDV tape to shoot his selection week film, Chris filled it. But he wasn’t satisfied and went out again into Beaconsfield village to find something else at the eleventh hour, overwriting the tape with the new footage, losing his first attempt.
This gamble resulted in a memorable vignette of a doomed marriage – and a place at the NFTS.
Course-mate Joe Matthews recalls Chris’s work: “I remember watching his poetry film and just being bowled over. It was personal, emotional, simple on the surface and complex underneath. It was life and Chris knew how to capture that.”
Keen to explore his Welsh roots, Chris shot his graduate film in Merthyr Tydfil, embedding himself deeply and honestly. What comes across is the spirit and humour of the drifting local characters.
Will Woodward remembers Chris’s talent for camerawork and the “fierce intelligence that allowed him to sum up characters’ worlds and emotions in just a few loaded and beautiful images”.
Will adds: “At film school he seemed to love the stories of wild people on the fringes of society, slightly damaged but not broken and still fighting. This may be some sort of description of how he was in the years I knew him.”
Billy Dosanjh writes: “If you operated strategically, Chris would call you out. If you were fake, he’d sniff it. If you weren’t very good and got away with it, he’d have you on that. Never shy of an opinion, he could always see the right path.”
“Everyone who encountered him knew he was different, a punk saxophonist who flipped the bird to the world, the friendliest, most talented, naive, pure, anti-system, man-child artist, a big cuddly straif, who we all loved, but who we couldn’t always be around for.”
“He’d master you as a person, without ever letting you in too close to him. It was his gift. He’d hoist characters in his films to the best versions of themselves – that was his signature.”
Will adds: “I don’t know if he realised it or not, but he was a great teacher to me. We worked together on a few projects in the years since film school and Chris’s passion for my work was as fierce as for his own films – which is a rare, beautiful and sometimes overwhelming thing.”
“There is always a moment on a shoot where I stand back and wonder how Chris’s visual intelligence would sum this scene up.”
Joe says he never “tired of our chats about the benefits of a certain type of lens or the arc of a character’s story. His approach to filmmaking influences me every time I pick up a camera and I am grateful to have spent the time I did with him.”
Billy agrees: “He made us all better at what we did.”
After graduating, Chris worked at Faction Films, editing and shooting. He shot and directed One Man Riot, a 47-minute film about wrestlers in Wales, and at the time of his death was working on a new project about parkour.
Chris was a big man and a big talent: but he also made a big effort. He worked harder than most – on the shoot and researching – and was more closely devoted to cinema than many. That makes it more painful to those who respected and loved him that his gift did not find the audience it deserved.
Will writes: “We all would have wanted to see more Chris Evans films – but hopefully the ones that exist can have more of an audience now.”
We plan to show Chris’s films at a celebration of his work in January, either at the NFTS or in central London and hope to see many NFTS graduates there.
Everybody is welcome to attend Chris's funeral at Islington Crematorium on 15th October at 4pm. There will be drinks afterwards."
The NFTS would like to extend sincere condolences to Christopher’s family and friends.