In the summer after graduating, I took on freelance camera assistant jobs whilst doing an online visual effects training course. Having completed this course, I applied for a job as a runner and 2D trainee artist at Double Negative Visual Effects and was lucky enough to be taken on.
Now I split my time between feature films and television, doing a variety of different projects throughout the year. In film I have worked as a visual effects artist with Double Negative and Industrial Light & Magic on features from Avengers: Age of Ultron to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In television I have worked across studio and outside broadcast programming as a camera assistant and operator, with a primary focus on sports and light entertainment.
The course has been invaluable in my professional life thus far. I fully credit the course with giving me the skills and opportunities that have led me to where I am today. The key to this industry is experience and networking, and that is exactly what the course provides.
One of the great things about the course was the wide variety of training we received and the experience we developed across all areas of both film and television production. Whilst my primary area of interest lay within the camera department, learning how studio directors and PAs work or how to operate a studio vision mixer or sound desk, not only benefited my general understanding of the whole production process, but also furthered my initial career prospects. In such a competitive industry, sometimes having just one skill is not enough to get you work, and production companies are looking more and more for hybrid multi-skilled staff and freelancers. Whilst you may specialise in one field, it is important to have a firm understanding of how everything works, and demonstrable practical skills across the board to aid you in any situation.
This wide variety of training also gave everybody the ability and freedom to progress in any area of the industry they could imagine upon graduating. By learning all different aspects from post-production, to screenwriting, to directing, we had an open book to do whatever we wanted. Personally, having the ability to go from being a camera assistant to a digital artist in a professional capacity has provided me with a stable flow of diverse and interesting work.
Another great aspect of the course was that it provided me and every other student with a ready-made book of contacts upon graduating – ourselves. In an industry that is all about networking, the large group of friends you graduate with quickly become advisers and future colleagues. Even to this day, my year are a close-knit group and we regularly discuss topics on our Facebook group, offering our advice, prospective jobs and people to contact.
If it’s not the skills I developed on the course that have helped me get work, it’s the people I met.
I fully credit the course with giving me the skills and opportunities that have led me to where I am today.
I chose the University of York because of the BSc in Film and Television Production. I always had an interest in the film and television industry growing up and had planned to go down that route eventually, but initially felt that I needed a so-called ‘proper degree’.
I was in my first year studying Classics at another university in 2009 when I discovered the new BSc in Film and Television Production at York due to begin in 2010. Immediately the prospect and sound of the course was superior to anything I had seen before at other universities. For the first time I had come across a course that sounded like a proper all round course that could teach everything I needed to know about the industry, with a practical hands on approach.
It was enough to make me decide to go all in on this career path. As soon as I got accepted, I left my Classics course and have never looked back since. It was the best decision I have ever made.
The only thing I could say to somebody thinking about studying at TFTV is to do it. Simple as that. The decision to join the course was the best decision I have ever made. Everything from the university, to the city, to the course, to the lifelong friends I made, fully exceeded my expectations.
The course has led me to some incredible places and work within the film and television industry. I know a lot of prospective students and parents might worry about the nature of the industry and things like job instability or money (relative to more traditional career paths). But at the end of the day if this is something you are passionate about, you have to pursue it. It is a career that involves something new and exciting every day, and you get so many opportunities that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. When you find yourself sitting with the cast and crew screening of Spectre in Leicester Square, or standing in the middle of the pitch at Twickenham or Wembley stadium during the national anthems, and think that this is your job, and somebody is paying you to do this, it really is the best job in the world.
The whole experience at York was a highlight for me; the three years there went by so quickly it is impossible to choose just one thing. It’s definitely a case of the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I look back on my time at university with fond memories, and if I could do it all again, I would.