Screen and Film School Brighton’s student blogger Zac Haydn-Jones shares his advice for making the most of your three years at film school.
A degree course lasts three years, which sounds like a long time, but I guarantee you it will go by in a flash. So, here are a few quick tips to get the most out of your time at Screen and Film School. Some of them might seem obvious but in all the excitement, you couldn’t be blamed for forgetting them.
Read the canvas page
It isn’t the most glamorous of tasks I’ll admit, but properly reading through the canvas pages for each module really does help. Get all your due dates added to your calendar. Read through what you need to submit for each module and make sure you understand it: it’s better to clear up any uncertainty early.
Find your team
This is a point I’ve mentioned in multiple blogs before, but film is a collaborative art, so don’t forget to collaborate. The lecturers will encourage you to do this and will also suggest you work with new people. But be mindful of it yourself too. Find the people you work well with, maybe they fill gaps in your knowledge, maybe you find it easy to communicate with them, maybe you just get on well… whatever it is don’t take a good collaborator for granted. Hold them close and make sure you’re a pleasure to work with too.
Use your free time
At uni you’ll have four lectures a week each around 2.30 hours. Of course, you’re expected to do work outside of the classroom but even with this you have loads of free time (even accounting for the nights out). You’ll have friends who’ll also want to make films so take the leap and make some stuff in your free time. The more you make, the better you get.
Venture outside of uni
Brighton is a city that is bustling with film business, so try your best to get out there as soon as you feel comfortable. Brighton filmmakers is a fantastic Facebook page where you can find work and collaborators, both paid and unpaid. At uni, you’ll meet loads of people, but it’s still worth trying to build some connections early in the industry while you have the time. Don’t ignore London either; if you’re willing to wake up at 5:00 you can easily get to shoots for 8 o’clock call times. It won’t be the easiest day you’ve ever had, but it’ll mean you’re taking advantage of Brighton’s close proximity to the capital.
Ask the questions
A strange occurrence takes place in the classroom where everyone is afraid to ask questions for fear of people thinking they’re stupid. In actual fact, I’d be willing to bet that if you have the question then so does at least 40% of the room, so ask the question. The classroom is your place to learn, and you’re learning from people who really know what they’re talking about.
Attend masterclasses and workshops
Whether it’s brushing up on an aspect of filmmaking you find you’re lacking in, or further improving on skills you already have, workshops are offered free of charge in a range of modules from writing, to camera and lighting and even shooting on film. These are a great way to get a learn that little extra that really makes the difference on set. There are also masterclasses, in which industry professionals will talk you through their experience, give advice, and take your questions.
These are just a few tips to help you along but once you’re here you’ll quickly find your own flow. More important than any of these is to enjoy yourself. You’re at university in a brilliant city with people from all different walks of life, try not to get so caught up that you forget to have a good time while you’re doing it.
Are you ready to make a scene?