What's next: A conversation with a film student
Students studying for film degrees at university have increased significantly over the last few years, as have many other students studying for degree courses that focus on the arts. As courses become more widely available, along with becoming ever more solid in terms of what they teach, students are able to learn some invaluable lessons in what it takes to master the myriad of film-making aspects.
However, having a degree in film under your belt doesn’t guarantee that a stable and steady career is going to immediately materialise as soon as you graduate. It’s a tough and confusing business to get your foot in the door and really forge a career that’s sufficient enough to bring true success, both creatively and financially. So, how do film students and graduates figure out their career path?
In the first of four interviews that Perspective Pictures did with film students, some in their final year and others who have recently graduated, we spoke to Kyle - who graduated from studying a BA (Hons) film degree at Solent University’s Media Academy in Southampton, in 2016. Currently living in Brighton, Kyle first spoke about the course he was on and how it gave him the confidence to push forward in making a career from film making.
“I was really happy with my course”, he says, “We were taught by industry professionals and people who had a genuine passion for film, the Media Academy at Solent was really well equipped, so I had all the best tools of the job to work with and learn about. I think without doing this degree I would have floundered a lot, and although I’ve always been particularly good at learning independently, I needed this course to make sense of everything.”
Since his graduation, Kyle has been working on creating short films for local businesses in Brighton and along the South Coast. “It’s something I’ve been doing to make money since my final year at uni, although back then it was less so, just the odd video here and there for no pay. I wanted to do something where I could utilise my skills, be creatively free and keep learning from. I wouldn’t say this is my fall back plan, as I love doing it, it just feels like an awesome start to a career.”
Kyle is still working on separate projects, such as short independent films with other creatives. “If someone asked to me if it’s worth it doing unpaid work, I would say - absolutely! But only if you’re getting something else out of it - if you’re trying to perfect your skills, keep your creative juices from drying up. I’m always annoyed when companies etc say they want your skills but don’t want to pay because it’s good experience, so that’s why I tend to work on independent projects. I mean I did all that unpaid work experience when I was studying.”
The most important things for film students and graduates is to gain insight into the industry and really understand how to function as part of a team, which is what Kyle has learned in his independent projects. “It’s the main thing, I would say. Without getting some insight, you’re blind, you may have the degree, but you need everything else to operate successfully. Working on these independent projects has enhanced my creativity, I tend to choose projects where I’m taken out of my comfort zone. Someone once told me that in order to succeed you need to challenge yourself, with film not being a consistent career path, having those challenges makes you more hungry and gets you into different situations where you’re always learning.”
As unpredictable as most careers in the arts, it takes someone with the right degree of passion and confidence to make it. Kyle ends by saying “Definitely it’s stressful at times, and I have occasionally said what the hell am I doing, but I’ve loved filmmaking since I was a kid and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I can say confidently that I will succeed, it’s just a matter of grabbing those opportunities whenever they arise.”