Boy and Bicycle (dir. Ridley Scott, 1965)

In celebration of student filmmakers everywhere and our Student Film In Transit competition, we’re launching Student Film Month at Cannes in a Van. Every day throughout February, we’ll publish a student film from somewhere in the student film-sphere. It might be a student classic like this 1965 long-short Boy and Bicycle from a young Ridley Scott… an award-winning masterpiece… or even a film directed by you.

We’ll be publishing a wealth of moving images from the infamous to the obscure, each film worthy of it’s place on our humble little stage. So what’s stopping you picking up that mouse, tablet or phone and sending us your own student short? You never know where the big yellow van might take you!

We’re even hosting a special Student Film Screen Social very soon in London so look out for more on that coming up.

It’s simple to submit…
Email us at and tell us what you’d like to show, then fill in the Screen Social submission form (please include details of production) and we’ll do the rest!

Now here’s a bit about Ridley Scott’s atmospheric short which would lead him to an incredible career directing some of the most iconic movies of the last 40 years.

Boy and Bicycle was Ridley Scott‘s first foray into filmmaking, made initially on a budget of £65 using a Bolex 16mm cine-camera, borrowed from the Royal College of Art in London, where he was a student. Shot over a period of six weeks in the early 1960s, the film was eventually completed in 1965 when Scott finished the post-production sound with a grant provided by the BFI‘s Experimental Film Fund.

Although a very early work – Scott would not direct his first feature for another 15 years – the film is significant in that it features a number of visual elements that would become motifs of Scott’s work. Shot entirely in West Hartlepool and Seaton Carew the film features the cooling tower and blast furnaces of the local British Steel North Works foreshadowing images in AlienBlade Runner and Black Rain. The central element of the Boy and Bicycle is re-used in Scott’s advert for Hovis of the early 1970s.

Opening in Scott‘s own teenage bedroom, Boy and Bicycle begins with the camera representing the point of view of the boy (played by Scott‘s younger brother Tony, who would also become a film-maker) as he wakes up and looks around his room, thinking about the day ahead. The film then follows the boy as he decides instead to play truant and visits various locations around the seaside town on his bicycle. All the while we listen to his thoughts in a stream of consciousness voice-over that Scott has said was partly inspired by reading James Joyce‘s Ulysses (1922).

The voice-over reveals the frustrations of a growing teenager and mocks the authority figures in his life such as his teachers and parents. Scott storyboarded in detail before shooting, and he includes many visual elements that add texture to the film: a dead dog, the sun darkened by ominous storm clouds, and the eerie barrenness of the beach, which Scott has said was an homage to Ingmar Bergman‘s The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet, Sweden, 1956).

Scott secured finance from the British Film Institute to complete the editing and sound in 1965.
During post-production, Scott was lucky to acquire the services of the composer John Barry. Although Scott could not afford the rights to the recording he wanted, Barry generously agreed to record a new version of the piece, and his music adds a lyrical, life-affirming quality to the film.

The film has been released as an extra on the DVD for Scott’s first feature The Duellists.


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