Screen and Film School Birmingham’s students set to appear in BBC teen drama

16 January, 2023

As the embers of 2022 have started to burn out, we’re already back burning brightly in 2023 at Screen and Film School Birmingham. Rising from the ashes of last year, we’re delighted to report that our industry team in the Midlands managed to secure some invaluable work experience for some of our first-year students, on the set of the upcoming BBC drama, Phoenix Rise.

Towards the end of their first semester at the Film School, a group of first years were fortunate enough to experience a flourishing professional film set for the first time. Students were given the opportunity to appear as extras on the exciting Coventry-based production. The new series is not just an important part of BBC Studio’s autumn portfolio, but a big chance for creatives all over the region. Set in a West Midlands school, it follows a diverse group of teenagers who are taking their first tentative steps back into mainstream education after being excluded.

Let’s hear first-hand what it was like for our students to see behind the scenes of a BBC production – and all of this before they had even handed in their first assignments…

“On the Phoenix Rise set, it was exciting to see how different it was compared to the film sets I’ve seen in the past. It immediately felt busy in a fun way. We headed straight into the wardrobe section where they would offer out different party outfits if people weren’t able to supply their own. After this we headed into a green room where we spent most of our day as extras. They would call people to put into groups randomly, all depending on where you would be seen in the shoot (to fit the continuity).

On set we were told to dance and mingle with one another. I specifically had to move out of the way of the protagonists in one of their shots. After each scene they would switch the groups out constantly and call us back whenever we were needed. We would have to do multiple things throughout the day such as laugh at one of the protagonists.”

– Luke Cooper

“During the day we were cast as extras in an end of term party scene where the directors had us dancing and looking like we were having a lot of fun. The crew looked after us very well and I learnt certain sayings and directing techniques simply from observing them.

It also gave me the idea to apply for other extra roles as I found out it is a great way to earn some much-needed cash!”

– Aaron Simpson

“I really enjoyed taking part in the filming of Phoenix Rise. We got to experience what it was like to be on a professional set and learn about all the different roles there are when working on a production. We were given the job as extras, and we got to experience first-hand the cast and crew working on set. It also helped me to get to know my classmates better as it was a new opportunity for us all and gave us the chance to get chatting to each other about our time on set.”

– Archer Wittingham

That’s the view from some of the fortunate students who took part in the production. Lucy Carey, Screen and Film School Birmingham’s Applicant Experience Manager, had this to say about the experience:

“It was really exciting to have our students working on a BBC shoot. Especially after our first years had only been with us two days before being offered this. This is a real testament to how industry-focused we are at Screen and Film School Birmingham.”

This is just one example of the practical industry opportunities we try to provide our students with. It is such a crucial part of their overall experience across their three years with us, and we look forward to sharing news of further headline-grabbing work experience that our young filmmakers undertake in the coming months.



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