Welcome back to Make a Scene, the series in which we delve into the filmmaking minds of some of our students to hear more about their passion, their film school experience, and pick their brains on their advice for future students.
This time, we caught up with BA (Hons) Filmmaking student and producer/1st AD, Chloe, to discuss her experience at Screen and Film School Manchester so far:
What sparked your initial interest in film?
Growing up, I always really enjoyed writing and telling stories. At the end of high school, when I was looking into my next step options, I decided that I wanted to explore telling those stories in a visual medium and chose to do a creative media qualification. I really fell in love with the craft of filmmaking at college and now it feels like something that I was always supposed to do.
Why did you decide to study at Screen and Film School?
The heavily practical nature of the course, the smaller class sizes (meaning more opportunity for 1-1 mentorship) and the industry connections that the film school offered were all excellent selling points but, above all, the community-centric atmosphere felt like somewhere that I could grow into the best version of myself.
What is your favourite part of studying your specialism?
My specialism is Producing/1st Assistant Directing. I’m enthusiastic about planning and organisation and I love making spreadsheets, so it’s been a joy to learn more about the documents that a Producer and 1st AD would make. No two productions are ever the same, so understanding how to prepare for the differences and limitations of each one, so that all the pieces fall into place, is always a source of excitement for me whilst making films.
I’m so proud that I took the chance on making my dream of becoming a filmmaker a reality.
What have been some of your greatest moments as a filmmaker?
My favourite memories are always the ones you’d probably never experience in any other line of work: when everyone on set is completely covered from head to toe in feathers, or when you know you only have one take to get the shot that you want and every crew member is holding their breath. In these moments, I always look around at the awesome, usually sleep-deprived, people that I’m surrounded by and feel both so lucky to be able to do what I do, and so proud that I took the chance on making my dream of becoming a filmmaker a reality.
What has been your highlight of studying at Screen and Film School so far?
It’s hard to choose one – I’ve genuinely loved every second of my time at Screen and Film School!
Have you had to overcome any challenges?
Yes, all the time! Every film you make has its own set of unique challenges – whether that be finding specific props on a small budget or trying to make an ambitious shoot work within a tight time frame. Challenges like these make you a better filmmaker because sometimes, to find the solution, you have to push the boundaries of your creativity. Personally, I feel like the biggest challenge that I’m always battling with is self-doubt. That said, I’ve found this is a quite common thing with creative people, and with every project I undertake, my confidence in my abilities grows just that little bit more.
With every project I undertake, my confidence in my abilities grows.
What was the best piece of advice you received as a filmmaker?
The best way to learn is by doing – so get stuck in with as many projects as you can. Don’t worry too much about making mistakes because we all make them when we’re starting out, and don’t be disheartened by rejection – you’ll probably receive a lot of nos but that just makes the yeses feel like a bigger victory.
Also, always make a second back-up copy of any footage in case your first hard drive gets lost or corrupted and, especially if you’re a producer, never underestimate the importance of feeding your cast and crew.
How collaborative has the course been in terms of working with your fellow students?
Super collaborative! On every short film module, you’re likely to be working with a new group of people. In second year, particularly, there’s been a lot of collaborations across specialisms; with the producing students working with the screenwriters to develop scripts, and the directing fiction, cinematography and production design students teaming up to bring a short scene to life.
There are so many aspects involved in making a film, it’s incredibly tricky to do every element to a high standard alone. Sharing the workload makes production run smoother. Other people also bring their knowledge and experience to an idea, which means you expand your own abilities from working alongside them, and they also might see a project in a way that you haven’t before: I’m not a strong cinematographer but when my cinematographer friends join my projects, they think of ways to add layers and depth from a camera and lighting perspective that I hadn’t considered.
Where do you see yourself professionally in the near future?
I’d love to do some runner work – whether that be in a production office or working as a floor runner – and just keep getting as much experience as I can working on a range of projects, so that I can keep building my confidence and developing my skill set.
What advice can you give applicants as they approach the beginning of their Screen and Film School journey?
Embrace every second of the whole experience. Talk to as many people as you can to find the collaborators you really click with, attend all of the workshops and masterclasses that are made available to you because you’ll learn so much from them, make the most of the equipment you have access to, make and learn from mistakes in this safe environment, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and most importantly of all: believe in yourself. You can do this!