Manchester life: Gearing up for the long-awaited opening of Screen and Film School Manchester

7 June, 2021

What does the student experience look like here at Screen and Film School Manchester? Let’s talk to our Oscar-nominated tutor Baldwin Li, our College Principal David Thompson, and two of our brand-new students, Alex and Chloe.

There’s a long, hot summer ahead of us before we welcome our new students in September to Manchester, and we are working hard to get ready for the new academic year. Lots of our 2021/2022 students have already seen the exciting CGI impressions of how our brand-new building and facilities will look, had the chance to meet members of the team and get a real taste of what is to come. For those who are yet to do so, and for some extra appetite whetting, here are some behind the scenes insights and some student voices too…

One of the things we pride ourselves on most here at Screen and Film School Manchester is the expertise of our lecturers. An integral part of our model is to create a roster of industry connections and introductory networking events for our students, but to have active industry professionals teaching with us will always be a top priority.

One such filmmaker we are fortunate enough to be able to call upon as a lecturer is Oscar-nominated Producer, Baldwin Li. Baldwin’s debut feature film England is Mine, a biopic based on the early life of Mancunian icon Morrissey, was released in cinemas worldwide in 2017 and shortly after on Netflix and Amazon Prime. His first major short film The Voorman Problem, starring Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander, was screened at over 100 festivals worldwide and won multiple awards as well as receiving an Academy Award nomination.

We caught up with Baldwin recently and asked him what Screen and Film School Manchester students can expect from him as a lecturer:

What are the key specialisms you will be teaching?

Film production, which includes the whole process from start to finish: developing ideas, script development, pre-production, production, post-production, right through to the final delivery to audiences on the big screen as well as on the small screen.

How will you bring your industry experience to teaching, and why do you think it is important?

You may as well learn from all of the mistakes I’ve made…

How do you like to teach and what can students expect from you?

I’m relaxed and informal, but I will move at a fast pace, so be prepared to concentrate!

What would you say are the main ingredients for a student to be successful in the industry?

You must be proactive to get established in our industry. You need a willingness to learn, and you need to be respectful to everyone, no matter where they are in the hierarchy of roles.

If you could say one thing to your 18 years old self right now, what would it be?

Don’t worry.

What is the best film or series on the popular streaming platforms you’ve seen recently, and why?

First Cow (directed by Kelly Reichardt) – is the best feature film I’ve seen in the past year. A delicate, funny ‘buddy movie’ about two chancers in the Wild West who illicitly milk the only cow in the village and use the milk to make cookies to sell to the locals – including the cow’s owner.

We’re really excited to have someone of Baldwin’s stature with us here at Screen and Film School Manchester, to assist in taking students from the finer steps of the ideas and development stage, through to the distribution of their story. Baldwin in turn is looking forward to meeting the latest generation of filmmakers who will be filling up the classrooms come September.

Here are some further thoughts from two of those new students on their hopes and ambitions for the start of their journeys with us:

Alex Holmes – Screen and Film School Manchester Student 2021/22

“I’m looking forward to learning new life skills and to meeting new friends to collaborate with once we’ve left our secondary schools. I aim to learn everything I need to know in order to become a director. Being in central Manchester, I’m excited to go out and experience student life, considering we haven’t been allowed to socialise due to the pandemic. I’m particularly looking forward to being taught by the music video lecturer, Matthew Boone. Matthew let everyone get involved during our recent open day and I even got to direct for a few minutes myself. When he said that I had produced a good shot, I was very proud of myself.

I’m really serious about being a director. I love watching films and I love being on set. I’m quite laid back and don’t let anything panic me, which I think is a really useful attribute to have on set when things are changing all the time. I thrive under pressure and so I can’t wait for the busy third year when I can put all that industry learning together into one film project. I want to make films that I want to watch myself, and that’s what I hope to do at Screen and Film School Manchester.”

Chloe Bush – Screen and Film School Manchester Student 2021/22

I’m just excited about all of it…excited to learn about the Film and TV industry as a whole, excited to learn about equipment…excited about every kind of opportunity that will come my way. It’s also very appealing to be able to learn from like-minded creatives, students, and to get to know new people and finding out how we can work together on our shared ideas. Not to mention all of the knowledge I can soak up from staff and lecturers who are full of ideas too.

Learning with and from people who are just as passionate about telling all of the stories that I’m ready to share is the main driver for me, as I prepare for my life in Manchester. It’s just going to be such an exciting experience and I really can’t wait to get started.

Furthermore, I get the impression my experience is going to be very hands-on – stepping into the industry from day one, rather than waiting to step into it following graduation. I’m confident I’m going to be given all of the tools I need to progress in the business as soon as we start our first year. I want to be able to make that leap into the work – if I’m ready – as soon as I finish my last assignment.”

Overseeing the progress of students such as Alex and Chloe, will be College Principal David Thompson. David has had an extremely varied career in filmmaking and TV; over the course of the last twentyyears, he has worked for companies as reputable as Universal Pictures, ABC, BBC, ITV, C4, Film4, Channel 5 and Discovery. David can also call upon a background in the world of academia and curriculum development when the school term kicks off.

Here are some of his thoughts ahead of a new dawn for Screen and Film School Manchester:

“I’m looking forward to everything about our first few weeks and months at Screen and Film School Manchester. My days will be spent meeting with industry partners on our doorstep in Enterprise City, ensuring our building is running as it should, and crucially making sure that the student experience meets the high standard we have set ourselves. I will have an open-door policy of students wanting to talk to me at any time, it will be a very close-knit team from the start. Beginning together like this will be such a special time, and I know that’s what everyone involved is looking forward to. When you open a school like this together, it creates such a unique bond with both the staff and the students alike. I’m very excited by the talent we’ve managed to attract and the buzz that’s already going on amongst the students. We really can’t wait to get started.”

So, that’s the view from behind the classroom door, from behind the lens and from behind the hopes and aspirations of our budding students. The new academic year is just a Manchester summer’s width away, you can almost reach out and touch it.


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