Hello everyone. My name is George, I just finished my second year of Film & TV Production here at ARU, and I am here to give you some of the wisdom that I gained in the two years I have spent here.
As I don’t want to bore you with a research paper on ‘How to be a filmmaker’, here are five tips for all of you aspiring filmmakers, starting with:
1. Learn your tools
Two of the biggest opportunities these courses give you are: the software you get for free and our equipment booking system known as Media Services. Even if you don’t want to guide your career towards a technically inclined role, it is vital to have at least a basic understanding of the gear and software you are working with; so that you can get yourself out of problems when they occur. Alongside all the professional grade software you get as a student, from the Adobe Creative Suite, to DaVinci Resolve and others, you have access to HUNDREDS of pieces of professional filmmaking gear, all of them for free whenever you want from Media Services, so you can test out, play around, and make as many creative projects as you want. You will also have access to all the creative workshops, where you can learn woodworking, metal working and ceramics whenever you feel like it. So go wild and play as much as your heart desires.
2. Every skill you have matters
You will very soon learn that filmmaking is not just about big cameras, pretty lights, directors, and actors. Everything you know how to do will come in useful in some way or another. Are you good at drawing? We will need you to do a story board. You know how to put on make-up? We need a make-up artist on set. Are you handy with tools or good at arts and crafts? We need someone to build our set. Photographer? Behind the scenes pictures are a must. Do you have lots of clothes and don’t mind sharing them? We need costumes for our actors. Accountant? We need a budget. The filmmaking industry is a very complex machine and everything you know how to do will come in useful, so put your secret talents out there, they will come in handy.
3. Make friends with everyone, everywhere
As a filmmaker you will quickly understand that the more competent hands you have, the better. So having lots of friends and connections is really beneficial to get your projects going. So, introduce yourself to everyone, from 2nd and 3rd years in your own course, to drama students, musical theatre, fine arts, photography, you name it. Everyone is here to learn and excited for new opportunities to create something new. And especially us, film students. If we know your name and what you study, we will call for your help on a shoot, as we can always use a helping hand on our projects.
4. Try every role there is
Some of you might know a bit about what you want to become after uni. But despite that, it is massively helpful for everyone to have a go at doing a bit of everything whilst you are here. Remember, university is a no pressure environment. You can make whatever films you want whenever you want, so have a go at being in front of the camera, try sound recording, be a director for a change, write your own film. When I came here, I was just a photographer that was interested in film. I had no idea what exactly I wanted to make of myself, so I just tried everything. And now, after acting in front of the camera and doing everything behind it as well I am sure of two things: I can be helpful in any position I take, but I am at my best when I dictate the cinematography of a film. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
5. Just have fun making films
You are in one of the most fun courses in uni. You have unrestricted access to all the toys you need. Go out there and make something wacky. Put together a film about whatever. Get your friends and make the first thing that comes to your mind.
One of the films I am most proud of was put together from ground up in 8 hours just because one of our lecturers said “Let’s make a film this afternoon” (you can watch Operation Blind Flamingo here).
You have a creative mind and more power in your hands than you can imagine. Be wacky, Have some fun. Create something you can laugh about or be proud of. The sky is no longer a limit.
Pursuing the dream of becoming a filmmaker was one of the best decisions in my life and I hope you’ll find that to be the case as well.
I can talk about it for hours so if you have any questions drop me a message on Instagram @georgefcocea or send me an email through my website. I’m looking forward to meeting you and hearing from you. And why not, maybe even work together on a film.
George is out. See ya!
George studies Film & TV Production at ARU in Cambridge. Find out more about this, and other degree courses, at one of our Open Days.