Media students at Stratford-upon-Avon College have been treated to a red-carpet visit from one of the UK’s brightest and acclaimed new film-making talents.
Last week, up-and-coming award-winning film director Joe Stephenson spent a day at the College as guest lecturer, setting its aspiring film-makers on the path to cinematic success by sharing with them his expertise and film industry knowledge.
Joe directed the 2015 British film ‘Chicken’ which won the Grand Jury Award at the New Hampshire International Film Festival in America, and he himself was shortlisted for Best Director by the British Independent Film Awards.
The visit included a well-received screening of ‘Chicken’, followed by a Q & A session hosted by Joe. He discussed with the students the reality of making a film on a tight budget, and described the unconventional start to his career – rather than following the accepted route of attending film school, he explained: “I sought out people in the industry and tried to learn from them. I learnt simply through doing.”
Joe was impressed with the students’ attitude and knowledge, in particular with the insightful questions they raised. He has this advice for aspiring young film directors: “Make as many films as you can and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You only learn by doing – the only way to learn how to make a film is by making a film.”
He believes passionately in the value of giving film students the chance to meet industry professionals. Comparing the opportunities available to the College’s students with his own experience, he commented: “I didn’t feel that I was able to reach out to the industry at that age. I think it’s important that everyone in the industry does reach out and show that it’s possible to succeed as a film maker no matter what your background.”
For the students themselves, the chance to meet a successful professional film director provided an invaluable addition to their studies. HND Media student Zak van Mellor, 18 from Evesham, plans to work in the film industry after graduating from College. He had this to say:
“Joe is the second director we’ve had come to speak to us this year. All film makers will have different views so it’s really useful to hear different opinions and their differing approaches. Getting first hand access to people who have actually made it in the industry definitely helps us a lot.”