As I mentioned earlier, one of my inspirations for starting this blog was being at one of the 4Talent open days (which you should look at if you are an aspiring young media… person? They have great open days that can link you to work experience placements and inspiration events, as well as longer internships) and when I was there, I met a young girl who was asking the speaker what sort of Film course you should be aiming for if you want to learn the tricks of the film trade. I mouthed to her that I could give her some answers and afterwards I told her all about my own course at York St John, and I realized just how lucky I actually am.
It also reminded me of when I was looking for a university course. There was even a time when I didn’t even know you could do a course like this. There are many different names for this kind of course, and you might not think yours is the right one. For example, my course is Film and TV Production, but it most definitely is not just a production course, which, for me, makes it sound like something that churns out camera operators etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not what I was looking for. And I assume that people who are willing to take a risk with taking this kind of course, want to aim high. You have to if you want to get ahead.
So, I’m going to make a sort of checklist for any young people about what they should be looking for in a film course. My course is definitely not perfect and could do with a huge boost in organisation between some of the lecturers, but aside from that it definitely has all of these vital aspects:
- Get practical – We all want to get our hands on some really cool equipment. And that is important. If you get to an open day and you’re not being shown the equipment that they use, get out of there. The equipment needs to be a focus of the course, not just an odd novelty. I strongly believe one of the best ways to learn is through experience (and making mistakes.) You need to be able to make projects. It also what is most likely to be drawing you to the course, so it’s lots of fun. Although it can be very, very stressful. But that’s the job! But once you know how to use a camera, how to set up a mic, a lighting kit, how to edit together something to a professional standard (we use Avid) then you have all the tools you need to go out there and start working on projects of your own
- But theory is important too! – Ideally, the theory will compliment what you’re doing in the practical side of things. For us, we get a lecture and a workshop for each module (Screen-writing, Fiction and Documentary.) The workshops are held in TV Studios so there is the option to practice, as well as having smaller group time with the tutors, which is always helpful, as they have lots of industry experience (ideally.) If you don’t know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, there’s no point. It’s great to look at a film and be able to work out why they make certain decisions. Film is an art form, it’s all about meaning. And to convey meaning, you have to learn about how. It obviously isn’t all thrilling if you’re not the most academic person, but it’s really hard to be wrong.
- Be able to book out the equipment – On our course, we are able to book out the kit for our own projects. We have to get permission and go through loads of paperwork, but it’s worth it. There’s no better experience out there than arranging your own project and getting it done.