Creative Media students at Stratford-upon-Avon College have refused to let lockdown restrictions interfere with their learning.
Continuing their studies throughout via remote learning, the students have been developing their filmmaking skills by using the time to produce their own short films.
The students were set an assignment by Media lecturer Sarah Downing – using the lockdown as inspiration, each had to produce a short film of no more than 90 seconds which would demonstrate their understanding of narrative structure.
Working individually from their homes, the budding filmmakers firstly honed their scriptwriting artistry by creating narratives on any topic of their choice, and then with admirable ingenuity filmed and edited using the most basic of filmmaking equipment such as mobile phones.
The students then entered their films into the DepicT! short film competition, with the shortlist for entry into this year’s Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival to be announced on Monday 3 August.
Creative Media student Samuel Aries, 17 from Leamington Spa, wrote, directed and acted in the film Natural Light. Samuel’s film tells the story of a young man who, after spending so long inside during lockdown in front of the glaring artificial light of his computer, rediscovers the joy of being outside in the sunshine. Samuel explained: “I wanted to tell a simple story that everyone could relate to in lockdown. I think we’re all spending so much time inside and staring at a screen that we tend to forget the benefits that nature has to offer.”
As Samuel discovered, lockdown posed its own unique challenges for the filmmakers, not least of which were the lack of opportunity to collaborate with fellow students and discuss ideas, and the inability to enlist the help of others as crew members or actors. “I missed working in a team bouncing ideas off each other. And I ended up having to act in the film myself while also arranging the camera work and lighting!”
Undaunted, however, he even found certain advantages in the enforced isolation. “One thing I did find easier was being able to focus on getting the exact shots I wanted and then editing the film together the exact way I envisioned.”
Samuel, who would like to progress to a BBC’s Broadcast Operator apprenticeship when he leaves Stratford and ultimately pursue a career as camera operator or cinematographer, is grateful to the College for helping him develop as a filmmaker. “Throughout the course, I have learnt the art of storytelling and how different shots can be combined to portray a distinct story. It has taught me how to develop an idea right from the beginning to actually making it a reality.”