We were tasked with producing an artefact that ‘explores the subject of under-represented groups within the media’, which could be anything from an essay to a series of photographs. To begin with I had to pick a topic. I thought about focussing on a disability or the elderly, but thought that I may be able to produce a better piece of work by focussing on an area that I know a little more about, or have more contacts in. Which is why I decided to choose something related to the university. I have a few friends who are on media production and communication courses, and so I decided to focus my work on Student Filmmakers. I also decided that it probably wouldn’t do much justice to create a photograph for this topic, but it would be better to just get people to consider watching student films and short films. I found a few websites that provided me with some information to get me started. They are linked below:
http://www.ukstudentfilms.co.uk/ – This website is useful for sharing student films, but it’s quite specific in the content that it shows. It would also require someone to solely be searching for student films, and so they are still out of the mainstream.
http://www.studentfilmmakers.com/ – This website gave useful information to students above producing their films, and using specific equipment, but it was very limited when it came to connections with the film industry, and getting a film seen by ‘the right people’.
I asked a few students what they thought about the topic, and what they found difficult. Below are some of the replies I received:
“I like the freedom university gives to students when creating films. It’s not quite Hollywood, but it’s a big step from college/A level”
“Sometimes it’s difficult to stand out from the group, as everyone has similar ideas/equipment”
“It takes a lot of hard work to make something really good, and sometimes working in a group lets you down a bit. Kind of holds you back”
To follow-up this research I asked if I could attend a session in the TV Studio, when a group of students were rehearsing a tv production they were working on. They agreed to let me attend and take some photos, as long as I didn’t get in anyones way.
It was difficult to get many shots, as it was very dark in the area I was allowed to stand in, and I couldn’t use the flash all the time incase it interfered with the equipment they were using, but at the time I got the sense that everyone was happy to work in a big group and got a lot of work done, but at the same time some people were fighting over leading roles, and would sometimes disagree over certain decisions.
One of the reasons I chose to focus on student filmmakers, is from when I attended a short film festival at the students union. This showed a handful of short films (not necessarily created by students), but the kind of things that wouldn’t be shown in mainstream cinemas. As I was watching the films, I thought why they don’t show short films in mainstream cinemas, or at least have a compilation the same length as a standard film? I thought the same about student films. It’d be a good idea to have a night dedicated to low-budget amateur films, that people can attend and give opinions on (That was the object of the short film night, to pick the best film from the selection). This is something I could become a part of in the future, but not just with student films. When compared to films and movies, photography is hugely under-represented. I could plan an event that combines student films, photography and other arts, and showcase it to the public in a main stream environment. This way, the event wouldn’t feel university specific, and would probably attract more visitors from outside of the university.
After studying different aspects of being a young aspiring film maker, it’s plain to see that it’s very difficult to get the public to watch low-budget amateur films, even though the majority of them could be enjoyed by a very wide audience. The problem is getting the people interested in the first place, and ensuring the film gets enough coverage. In my second and third year, I will probably help to get the exposure for these films that they deserve, which wouldn’t only benefit the students involved, but myself as well as I can use an exhibition or big event to showcase my own work.