Screen and Film School end of year Industry round-up
Industry is all-important to us here at Screen and Film School; it’s what our foundations are built on.
We’re dedicated to giving students the skills, experience, contacts and confidence to let them thrive in the British film industry. We have unique access to film, TV and digital marketing companies throughout the three regions we are fortunate enough to call home: Birmingham, Brighton and Manchester. Our aim is to find opportunities to give our students an understanding of how the industry works, what career opportunities are available to them and to initiate tailored work placements. As the year draws to a close, we find ourselves with a chance to reflect on all the wonderful ways in which we have engaged with our local industry partners throughout semester one. We’re kicking this round-up off in Birmingham:
Screen and Film School Birmingham
The opening months of life at Rea Studios in Digbeth have been full of exciting Masterclasses. These in-person events are designed to put a range of the film industry’s most prolific names at the fingertips of our students. Prestigious cinematographers, editors, producers, screenwriters, and directors give our students expert advice and crucial insights that are hard to find anywhere else. This recipe is what makes these events so exclusive.
We hit the ground running with a joint talk by Writer and Director Jason Wingard and Screenwriter Sarah Drew. Jason is possibly best known for directing Eaten by Lions, the award-winning British film which was also produced by our very own College Principal, Hannah Stevenson. Sarah Drew was here to discuss all things scriptwriting; she is currently developing a TV series entitled SW19, which focuses on the extraordinary true story of the woman who ran Wimbledon between the 1920s and 1940s.
On into week two of the semester, and we were joined by Executive Producer and friend of the Film School Roger Shannon, who has been an industry professional for 40 years, and a Professor of Film and Television for the past decade. Just a few days later, Director Nigel Harris delivered a fascinating insight into his long and successful career in children’s television, as well as discussing his own production company, Jellybob.
The high-calibre and variety of Masterclass guests kept coming as we entered the middle of term in Birmingham. Location Manager Martin Simms thrilled our students with talk of the blockbuster hit, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and that was closely followed by an appearance by the creator of Birmingham Film Festival, Dean Williams. This is a key industry relationship for the Film School, as we have previously sponsored two awards at our local festival.
As we moved into autumn the Masterclasses continued to impress our students. Director Sean Spencer gave the lowdown on The Art of Pitching and John Ellis contrasted that perfectly with a talk on Production Design. To wrap things up for the semester we invited two Directors to join us: Carl Hunter, who is known for Sometimes Always Never with the brilliant Bill Nighy, was closely followed by Debbie Isitt, who is also a Writer and Producer. Debbie was a key writer on the successful Nativity franchise.
What a success the opening few months have proved to be at our brand-new school in the midlands. Moving from the new to the well-established, our flagship Film School in Brighton has a deep-seated relationship with the local film industry in Sussex and the wider south-east region. Here are some industry engagement highlights from their opening semester:
Screen and Film School Brighton
Brighton’s industry activity started in mid-October, once the academic year was in full flow, with a talk from industry professional Daniel Watson. Daniel works with the Brighton film and TV industry to secure locations for shooting around the city. Daniel explained his role, how he works with Location Managers, including Lex Wade of ITV’s Grace, and his tops tips for shooting in and around Brighton.
This was followed up by another expert discussion and our first Masterclass of the 2021/22 year with Episodic Director & Screenwriter, Dan Zeff. Dan’s recent work includes The Queen and I for Sky 1, The Collection for Amazon, The Artist, starring Rupert Grint and Iwan Rheon, for Sky Arts, as well as the Inside No. 9 episodes, The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge, Séance Time, Pramface and Ideal. Dan is also on the board of the Film & TV Charity, plus Director’s Charitable Foundation and does a lot of work lobbying for better recognition of Mental Health in film and TV.
Also in the month of October, we were the first to hear about and then have access to a series of unmissable ScreenSkills events, a perk which comes with having a ScreenSkills Select Accreditation for our BA (Hons) Filmmaking undergraduate degree. As part of their Digital Cities series, they hosted brilliant student webinars on the following all-important subjects: Introduction to Set Etiquette, Jobs, Schemes & Opportunities, Portfolios for Screen.
Towards the end of autumn and into winter, Screen and Film School Brighton hosted a run of incredible Masterclasses. We were honoured to welcome Gregg Wilson, Associate Producer of No Time To Die, for an inspiring talk. Gregg discussed a broad range of subjects during his session, including the key differences between Assistant, Associate and Co-Producers, how he got started in the industry, the difference between factual and narrative editing, working with writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge and managing stress on highly anticipated productions such as the Bond films.
Somewhere in the middle of this, we managed to hold two Masterclasses with the hugely popular television personality Reggie Yates, as well as cult Actor and Writer Reece Shearsmith. Over Zoom, Reggie answered questions from students with charm and generosity, whilst looking back on his long and illustrious career. Reece, who is probably best known for the long-running BBC series Inside No. 9 and the dark comedy favourite, The League of Gentlemen, was down on the coast with us in person. Reece was generous with his thoughts on the industry and virtues of writing, acting and the symbiosis between the two forms.
The highlight of November for Screen and Film School Brighton’s industry activity was CINECITY. Brighton’s premier independent film festival, each year CINECITY showcases the best short films from local filmmakers aged 16-25 with its New Voices category, and Screen and Film School Brighton were delighted to see a number of films by current students and graduates shortlisted in 2021. As a brilliant added plus, a documentary directed by Screen and Film School alumna, Crystal Leaity, was declared this year’s winner by a panel of industry judges. What a fitting finale to our industry activity for 2021 in Brighton!
Finally, it’s time to check-in with our second brand-new school and their industry engagement for semester one. From the south-east we’re going all the way back up to the north-west.
Screen and Film School Manchester
The very first year-one students at Screen and Film School Manchester have had the best possible introduction to industry during their opening semester in their new surroundings. Each ndustry guest was able to provide insight and information on a myriad of different elements of the TV and film world.
Things were kick-started with ‘Film Festival Day,’ during which we welcomed speakers from Manchester Film Festival, Kinofilm and BFI into the Film School. They gave us the lowdown on what brand of short films are popular in the festival circuit at the moment. In addition to this, our students were offered volunteer roles at Kinofilm and Manchester Film Festival.
BFI’s Roxy McKenna then introduced one of her favourite film-makers, Lucy Rose. Lucy showed her short film She Lives Alone, a horror which set in the Cumbrian Hills. Lucy received funding from BFI for the short film and discussed the process of being an independent female filmmaker. Roxy and Lucy then set our students a challenge to make a 3-minute film in the horror genre. Seven groups of students submitted their films to be reviewed and these films were then submitted to the HOME/BFI North competition, and we were hugely delighted that one of our students won and two others were runners up.
Moving on into the autumn and Mel Taylor, a BBC Producer and Director also came to the Film School and did an in-person Masterclass about working in the industry. Mel discussed the experience of being a female filmmaker and how she had found it to direct an all-male film team. She inspired our female students and told them to keep asking the important questions, to always challenge stereotypical language in a film environment and to have self-belief.
Next up was a trip to Stockyard North prop house in the Trafford Park area of Manchester. Students were free to look around, touch and photograph props that litter their huge warehouse. These props are hired for hit TV shows and films that come up to the northwest, including Peaky Blinders, Brassic and Coronation Street. Students were able to use this session to populate their portfolios in the Production Design sessions. CEO Greg White kindly came back to the school and did a hugely insightful Q&A with the students. He spoke about his time on set as a Prop expert and the fun of working with Ridley Scott.
Those are the highlights of our industry engagement and activity across all three of our Film Schools. They all have their own geography and identity and that is reflected in the diverse, rich and numerous Masterclass guests and industry professionals that we interact with on a weekly basis. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the enthusiasm of our students, the generosity of the people and companies we engage with, as well as the endeavours of our expert industry teams who bind it all together. Thanks to all involved and we look forward to reporting on another successful run of industry activity in 2022.