RTS Bursary Student Interview: Niamh Quirke


RTS Bursary Student Interview: Niamh Quirke

23rd April 2024

Late last year we were delighted to announce the incredible news that five of our accomplished students were accepted into the Royal Television Society (RTS) Bursary Scheme.

As several months have passed since their induction into the program, now’s the perfect time to catch up with them and find out more about how they’ve been getting on.

First up is Niamh Quirke, a second-year student on our BA (Hons) Filmmaking degree in Brighton. Join us as we discuss her experience so far, her motivations for pursuing the bursary, and her insights into how it aligns with her ambitions and aspirations in filmmaking.

Niamh Quirke holding a video camera

Student Experience

Can you tell us about your experience applying for the RTS bursary and how it has impacted your studies?

Applying for the RTS was one of the best decisions I made. I did it mostly on a whim, doubtful that I would be selected, given my lack of experience at the time, but to my surprise, I was one of the few selected for the opportunity. Throughout my last two years of study at Screen and Film School, I have been able to develop my experience and skill set, which has proved beneficial when attending RTS networking events as I had more to offer potential employers.

What motivated you to pursue a career in TV/film, and how do you see the RTS bursary supporting your goals and aspirations?

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, always being drawn towards the creative arts. It was during my last year of secondary school that I started to realise how much I always appreciated film and television, fascinated by the world behind the camera. As my film education progressed, I started to reflect upon my skillset and what I could bring to a production. I found that I was strongly interested in camera work, but that I also thrived at problem solving and organisation, which led me into production management. I am still unclear about my route, but I feel each day I am heading towards a bright future and a better understanding about myself.

The RTS bursary has been hugely impactful, supporting my understanding of the industry and figuring out where I belong on a production. I am paired with an industry mentor, sourced by the RTS bursary administrators, who is helping me to pave my career path and break into professional work. This guidance not only secures a firm contact within the industry but also helps me to realise what I want to do and how I want to do it.

RTS Student masterclasses 2023

In what ways do you hope to contribute to the TV/film industry in the future?

I have found myself longing to help organise and manage the production of films, wanting to see what every department is doing. I have a passion for directing fiction and leading the vision of a project, having directed a few music videos and commercial adverts. I aspire to get to a point in my career where I can develop an idea professionally, but in the meantime, I aim to develop my skills by keeping up with every department. I like being the means of communication and finding solutions to problems in a creative sense.

Can you share any projects or initiatives you are currently working on, and how the bursary has facilitated your progress?

Currently, I am directing my Short Film 4 project – an experimental fashion film with varying looks which the lighting and sound adapts to. This process has been a creative learning curve, making me aware of the amount of pre-production required to accurately display and communicate my ideas to all departments. Creatively, it has been inspiring to work with so many different departments and I thoroughly enjoy the collaborative process of this production, feeling like a united team all with a strong vision for each department.

The bursary has assisted me through this process by allowing me to feel financially much more secure and relieving that pressure from me, giving me the space to be creative. I have used my bursary this year to support my career and invested in a new laptop, which I really needed as I work much more efficiently and quickly now. I can work on my pre-production with ease and, with the current software, share my documents with much more ease than I did previously. Although an objectively small improvement, it has given me peace of mind and general appreciation for the bursary scheme as I feel I can move forward with confidence in this industry.

What advice would you give to other aspiring television professionals who may be considering applying for the RTS bursary in the future?

All I can say is just do it! I convinced some of my friends in my first year to apply for this incredible scheme as it has opened so many doors for me as a creative. There is nothing to lose by applying and if you have the passion for film and television and a dedication to hard work, then you are an ideal candidate. As I said, I did not have much experience or evidence of my work, but my personal statement and films I had to show expressed my passion and admiration for the industry, and that is exactly what they are looking for. Just be yourself and prove to them why you deserve this opportunity.

Niamh Quirke with another Screen and Film School student

How do you envision leveraging the networking opportunities and connections provided by the RTS bursary to enhance your professional development in the industry?

The RTS Bursary Scheme provides you with an industry mentor in your second year of study at university. By this point, you may know where you want to go in the industry and this contact alone is beneficial. I have heard of many RTS scholars before me who have stayed in contact with their mentors and even become colleagues with them after building a good relationship and understanding.

The RTS also provides a wealth of networking opportunities, enabling you to socialise and network with executives from a range of high-end television networks, such as Sky, Netflix and many more. They are always pushing to invite the next generation of creatives into the industry and find young people with bright ideas. I have used to this my advantage to receive advice about programmes, schemes and CV advice to improve my chances of securing a job. There is a lot you can achieve by talking to these inspiring creatives at these events and finding the most insightful advice from them.

Can you discuss any challenges you have faced in pursuing your career goals, and how the bursary has helped mitigate or overcome these obstacles?

My most prominent obstacle was just finding my calling. It was so clear to everyone else what they wanted to do and where their skills lay. Personally, I am not the most technical person, and for a long time I tried to push myself into the technical field. I still hold a strong passion for visuals and camera work, steadily growing my experience and skillset in that department, but through the help of mentors and industry professionals I feel confident in knowing what my path is. They help to realise your potential and recognise aspects of yourself about which you may not have been aware. I am sure I will face further obstacles through this growing process, but I know the RTS will support me in any way it can.

Niamh Quirke with another Screen and Film School student

What do you hope to achieve or accomplish as a result of the RTS bursary, both personally and professionally?

I hope to achieve a sense of stability in the role I end up going into and feel confident in myself to execute this to a professional standard. Professionally, I hope to make stable contacts in the industry through networking and using these to my benefit to push myself into job opportunities I may not have been able to get outside of the bursary scheme.

Finally, can you reflect on the significance of receiving the RTS bursary and what it means to you in terms of recognition and support of your aspirations?

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity I have been given through this scheme and feel seen by professionals who recognise my potential. I have been able to express my aspirations in the industry without feeling judged, but more so advised on the reality of the job and where my skills are best suited in a production. I have found that the RTS has been overwhelmingly welcoming and supportive of my career so far and will continue to do so when I am no longer a bursary scholar, staying connected with students who have proven they used every opportunity that came their way.



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