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Professional Experience Presentation / Module Evaluation

May 18, 2011

When the Professional Experience module first started, I’ll admit, I had little idea about what I wanted to do. I felt at the time, that a placement would serve me well and provide me with great experience of the media industry along with some good contacts.

Being unsure as to whether such a thing would materialize or provide me with 20 days of work, I was on the lookout for other opportunities. I originally went to a couple of meetings for the New York trip as having been to New York before to film a project, I was eager to go back. In the end I disregarded the trip to Manhattan for a couple of reasons – namely money but, more importantly, because I didn’t think it would benefit me as a media producer or help me grow. Having already experienced filming a project in New York, I didn’t see what else the trip could offer me.

Around this same time, I overheard David Hanna and Spencer Murphy having a meeting about doing some video production work for the Coventry University East Asian Film Society (CUEAFS). Once the meeting was finished, I cheekily spoke to Dave and expressed my interest. He was more than happy to mention me to Spencer and soon enough, I became a part of the team that was to produce all and any video work for the CUEAFS. I felt this opportunity would allow me to work on a variety of different projects, including a trip to the Udine East Asian Film Festival in Italy which would mean mixing with big names of the Asian filmmaking community.

While I was enjoying producing work for the CUEAFS, I didn’t feel it was pushing my skills as a media producer. The work was fairly basic and did not push me in a professional sense. Furthermore, due to various reasons I had to pull out of the trip to Italy for the Udine Festival. However, it was agreed that I would be the lead editor of the footage that came back from the festival which I was more than happy to be.

Upon finishing the Formats Production module, it became clear to me that as much as I enjoyed the module (and performed well in it), formats production was not something I wanted to pursue as a career. It just seemed that the whole process lacked a degree of creativity that I thrive upon when it comes to filmmaking and I could imagine it to become grinding and somewhat mundane if I was to do it 9 to 5. This narrowed my potential search for an industry work placement as it appeared that many companies offering placements were involved in formats production one way or another.

The Short Film module played a big part in my Professional Experience. It allowed me to bond together with like minded media producers in Jim Peakman, Tim March, David Hanna and Rochielle Parkes. As such, Jim felt confident enough to share with the rest of us a piece of freelance work he had contracted. It involved producing a promotional DVD for Coventry Council that would showcase the different housing options available to those caring for loved ones, whether it to be due to old age, disability or something else. It instantly appealed to me as throughout the module, we had discussed as a group the idea of forming a professional media production company that would take on exactly this type of work. I felt it a great opportunity to gain experience with such a big client and to see how well our group would fare in a professional environment. And to make things even better, the work was paid.

The final piece of professional experience I became involved in was by directing a short sketch written by Jim Peakman. This came about following a tutorial with Steve Dawkins who felt that everything I had done for the module thus far did not push me creatively. We both agreed that I directing is something I had never attempted before so felt it would be a good time to try it. I mentioned this to Jim who after a while suggested I direct a short sketch he had written. I became excited and nervous at the prospect of directing a short, as it was something I could never see myself doing.

Looking back, its interesting to reflect upon the route I decided to take. At the start of the module, I was more driven towards a very rigid and secure kind of professional environment, a 9 to 5 job if you will. Various factors (detailed in my evaluation) changed my opinion dramatically and as a result, the path I chose to take. One of my contacts, Jon McGovern, works as a freelance video producer and editor / color grader. I continually see his latest work on his Vimeo page and it is always stylized, creative and reflective of his media skill set. This is what I want videos I work on to to portray – creativity and style, and I feel working with the rest of the Blue Ridge Film Group, we can achieve this in future projects.

I feel that undertaking the work with Coventry Council proved extremely valuable. Because we were being paid to produce a video product, it became essential we were professional, on time and efficient at all times. As such, these skills and many others were polished and tuned throughout my time working on the project. The difference became clear throughout the process – at the start, we were somewhat slow to set up lighting and other equipment, struggling with direction. As the days went on, we arrived at a new location and were set up quickly and efficiently, even problem solving on the fly which really shows our progression not just as individuals, but as a group.

On the other hand, my involvement with the CUEAFS I felt did not really push me in the way I would’ve liked. I was hoping for more of a professional working environment for each project (although to be fair, it sounded like the trip to the Udine Festival provided exactly this), but instead each challenge felt very much like a ‘University’ project.

Along with directing my first short, this module has allowed me to grow massively in confidence and professionalism which I will take with me into the third year, hopefully to improve on even further.


Updated CV and Website

May 18, 2011

In order to get my name out there, I have put together a website showcasing my work and allowing people to easily contact me via it. The link and screenshots can be found below, as well as my updated CV.



Learning Development

May 17, 2011

The Professional Experience module has certainly proved to be the module which has progressed my skill set more than any other.

Through my work for Coventry Council, working for a professional client who was paying myself and others to turn up and film for them, I instantly snapped out of being ‘student’ to trying to adapt to being a ‘professional’. Over the course of the week I feel my professionalism took a big boost – there was never any messing around. We would turn up to each shoot, knuckle down, get set up and be ready to film ASAP. Knowing a client would be watching our every move certainly added a massive amount of pressure. Furthermore, this particular client had videos produced in the past by previous media professionals, so we would no doubt be compared to them.

Each shoot demanded us to be punctual and efficient, which I felt I certainly was. I tried to make sure I was always the first one ready to go, and once I was, this enabled me to help out with other jobs such as setting lighting or the camera.

Moving on to directing the pirate sketch, I felt I needed to identify what makes a good director and try and adapt to those skills. Things such as confidence, clear and concise direction, people skills and a certain degree of arrogance are all essential when it comes to directing a crew of people and actors. Following this shoot, I realize that I do lack these skills. While I certainly enjoyed directing the short, I lack confidence and good, clear direction which cements the fact that I am not necessarily cut out to be a director. Even so, I feel directing the pirate short certainly improved my direction skills which I am sure I can transfer to other roles such as Cinematography and Lighting.

List of Contacts

May 17, 2011

Mandy Sanghera
Mandy works for Coventry Council within the Carers department and someone whom I worked with when filming the Carers DVD. She is in charge of producing video products for their branch of the Council so having her as a contact will no doubt prove valuable in the future.

Spencer Murphy
Spencer is the founder of the Coventry University East Asian Film Society (CUEAFS) and has many contacts within the East Asian filmmaking scene all around the world. He is an extremely approachable and enthusiastic individual who I am sure would be willing to help me in the future however possible should I ever need him.

Jon McGovern
Jon is a freelance video producer / colorist who has produced videos for the likes of Leicester Council, Derby University and Little White Lies magazine. He is a close friend who I know I can call upon for advice or contact in the future.

Steve Dawkins
While Steve may seem an obvious choice as one of my lecturers, his experience and knowledge of the industry is not to be overlooked. He has a massive amount of media industry contacts and is always willing to help if he can.

Stuart Scott
Stuart is a lecturer and scriptwriter at Hinckley College whom taught me during my four years there. He has a phenomenal amount of knowledge in regards to film theory and history but also is an avid scriptwriter who is always looking for media producers to adapt his scripts.

Days 18 to 20 and onwards: Udine and Rolls Royce

May 17, 2011

With the Udine Film Festival coming to a close, the crew headed back and with them brought hours and hours of footage which myself and David Hanna have the task of sorting through and editing. Two teams went out for 5 days each (the festival was 10 days long) and upon the first teams arrival back after the first 5 days, Tim March brought with him a hard drive containing footage from the festival which needed to be edited, uploaded and linked back to the second crew in Italy within 36 hours. I quickly set upon editing the montage of the Cosplay Competition they had shot two days prior under Tim’s guise and using Dropbox, linked the finished video to David Hanna (who was still in Italy).

Another project which presented itself to Blue Ridge was an opportunity to film a video for Rolls Royce in Ansty, Coventry. The video would demonstrate the disassembly of an Engine piece by piece and we were asked by Steve Dawkins if we would like to undertake the project. We of course all agreed that it would be an excellent opportunity so quickly accepted.

The filming for the video was pulled forward a week earlier to the 9th of May (originally it was intended to shoot the following week) which unfortunately meant I couldn’t make the shoot as I was in Majorca. However, it was decided that I would be lead editor for the footage so upon my return, I have set about acquiring the footage from Jim and will proceed to edit it together within the next few weeks.

Days 13 to 18: Filming the Carers DVD

April 24, 2011

Blue Ridge Film Group have just finished shooting their first professional video product for a client! Under the guise of Mandy Sanghera (the director of the project), a shooting schedule was organized for the week which consisted of around two different locations for each day, with each location generally consisting of one interview.

A major setback started the week with the revelation that Rochielle Parkes, tasked with helping out on the shoot, became unavailable. Due to the short notice, we were unable to find a replacement meaning we were a person down for the week. Furthermore, as it was not possible to book two Canon 5Ds out for the shoot (only one was available), the plan was to use Rochielle’s Canon 550D as a second camera to film cutaways and other angles for each of the interviews. With her unable to make the shoot, it meant we had to rely on only one camera.

Once we finished shooting each interview, Mandy required we get plenty of cutaways to ensure the interview would not drag. It became apparent that very little time was left to get these cutaways in a few of the days, which was due to a number of reasons. Mainly because we were a camera down which meant each interview had to be filmed two or three times to make sure we got enough angles. I felt this frustrated the group as well as the client – not only did it waste time, re filming the same questions and answers made for a much less natural response from the interviewee. There was nothing we could have done and tried to handle it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We all switched roles throughout the shoot which I found interesting – some of the days I sat with Marantz in hand making sure the sound levels were right, while others I was behind camera framing the shot or making sure the lighting was correct. I feel this demonstrated the dynamic within the group and allowed us to problem solve together rather than individually, as we had all had experience in the every role.

I mention problem solving – the filming went very well and was relatively problem free. The main stumbling block proved to be the lights. On a few occasions throughout the week we would spend a longer than necessary amount of time setting up the lighting for an interview, due to shadows. However, we got much better as the week went on and quickly learned that in most cases, less is more and instead of using all of the lights, we would use just one or two in order to bring out the skin tones on the camera.

With the shoot now completed, the footage goes to Dale Driver who is tasked with the job of editing. I have offered my services should he need any help a long the way as I know it will be a strenuous and time consuming task.

Days 12 to 13: My Directorial debut

April 5, 2011

With the equipment booked in preperation for the filming for Coventry Council (which did not commence till a couple of days later), myself and Jim felt it a perfect time to film the Pirate sketch with myself directing following my tutorial with Steve Dawkins. We filmed in the basement of the Ellen Terry building in one of the disused rooms, which we managed to turn into somewhat of an office.

Taking the lead on my first film was rather daunting. I had read the script Jim had provided me with numerous times and had it planned out exactly in my head how I wanted the film to go. The fact that Jim, the writer, was actually playing the Pirate in the film worried me as I thought it may be awkward with me directing his ‘baby’ so to speak. However, Jim acted very professional and was happy with how I wanted the film to be shot.

The filming took longer than expected, mainly because of the numerous takes we went through. Being a comedic short, it was hard to control our laughter at times meaning many takes were done in order for the actors to keep their faces straight. The dead pan expression from the advisor (Dale) is crucial for the comedy to work so I wanted to make sure his look was spot on.

Following the shoot, I sat down with Jim edit the piece. It became apparent that the audio we captured through the Marantzs was unusable, meaning we had to resort to using the sound from the Canon 5D. Amazingly, it didn’t actually sound too bad although it does add a rather annoying clicking noise in the background.