Filmmaking / Student Tips

5 things to do before starting at Film School

6th June 2024

Screen and Film School Manchester’s student blogger Chloe Bush highlights 5 things to get sorted before you start your studies with us here at the Film School.

So, you’ve had your applicant day, accepted your conditional offer, planned your accommodation and sorted your student finance, but you’re still wondering what you can do to prepare for this new and exciting adventure…

If this sounds like you, check out this list I’ve put together of 5 things that you might want to do before the new semester starts.

Learn how to cook a few, basic meals

If you’ve never cooked much before, transitioning to preparing meals for yourself every day when you start university can feel kind of overwhelming. Therefore, learning a few meals that you can easily put together, before September rolls around, will make mealtimes much more enjoyable and help you avoid being stuck in an endless cycle of frozen pizza and takeaways. Whether it’s baked potatoes, chicken and rice, or, my personal favourite, tuna and sweetcorn pasta, there are plenty of quick, simple and healthy recipes, which only require a few ingredients, that you can sink your teeth into (no pun intended).

Also, getting an idea of what kind of meals you’ll be making for yourself will help you figure out what utensils and crockery you will need to buy to start off with, to save you spending a fortune on loads of kitchen items that will sit gathering dust at the back of your cupboards.

Talk to your new classmates

Collaboration is an essential part of being a good filmmaker; in every department – no matter what role you take on – you’ll be working as part of a team. At Screen and Film School, your classmates are your collaborators, so what better way to prepare for the upcoming semester by getting to know everyone before you start?

For every new year group, there’s a Facebook group that you can join (after accepting your place) which is dedicated to helping you to connect with other students, before September comes. Post a message in the group introducing yourself to your new classmates and start talking about films. Similarly, if Facebook isn’t really your thing, be sure to sign up to any Zoom events that the helpful Admissions Team invites you to as an applicant, and get to know other people that way. After all, the people that you meet right now might just be your future key collaborators in the industry…

Build on your existing filmmaking knowledge

Whilst a lot of filmmaking is about learning how to operate cameras or editing software, there is plenty of theoretical knowledge about the industry that’s important to know too. Reading books that people have written about filmmaking, keeping up with industry news through sites such as Screen Daily and Deadline, and watching videos on the behind the scenes creations of your favourite shows and films – to watch other filmmakers overcoming obstacles and applying their knowledge – are all things that you can be doing to strengthen your filmmaking practice in time for Film School. The more you can absorb yourself in the industry as a whole, the more detailed your overall knowledge will be.

Plus, as your degree progresses, you’ll be expected to read and reference different sources such as books and journals in your assignments to help validate the things you’ve learnt, so immersing yourself in this research early will make it easier when it comes to writing your assignments further down the line.

Save some money and learn how to budget

One of the best things that I did in preparation for my time at Screen and Film School was save up as much money as I could in the run up to my first semester. By working my part-time job on the weekends/over the holidays throughout college, and limiting how much I spent on things I didn’t really need, I had enough money saved up to avoid needing to work loads during my first year at University.

Whilst this might not be the case for you (as everyone’s financial situation is different) there are so many different, exciting things to do during your first year at the Film School, so the more that you can do to reduce the need to work a lot during your time studying, the more you’ll be able to take advantage of student life and the many opportunities Screen and Film School has to offer.

Watch (and analyse) TV shows and films

Okay, I know for a course that’s all about filmmaking this one seems kind of obvious, but it’s a really important one too. During one of my very first classes, we were all asked to name a film or TV show that we’d seen recently, explain whether we liked it or not, and most importantly why we felt that way. A huge part of being a good filmmaker is not only being able to make decisions, but to understand the impact these decisions will be having on an audience’s experience of a film: one of the best ways to learn how to do this is to learn from how existing TV shows and films do it.

Watch as many shows and films, of as many different genres and styles, as you can (even if you don’t think it appeals to you) and let their methods influence your own filmmaking choices. Plus, it’s pretty much guaranteed after Film School you’ll never be able to watch a film without completely analysing every creative choices that has been made, so you might as well get used to that part of being a filmmaker now.

That concludes my top 5. Whilst these are a few of my tips (based off of things I have either done or wished I had), it’s good to remember that none of these tips are things you have to do and this list is not exhaustive either. There are loads of other things that you can also do in preparation for the new semester, such as keep making films (even if you’re filming on your phone and using your bedsheets to bounce daylight coming through a window – low budget filmmaking like this is what tests your creativity) or learning how to do laundry (you don’t want to accidentally put a red sock in with your white clothing) to name a few.

As long as you keep finding ways to be creative, big or small, and learn a few life skills along the way, you’ll be in a great position for when the new semester rolls around and your filmmaking journey at Screen and Film School begins.



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