11 Things Every Film and Television Student Knows To Be True
It’s not always as glamorous as they make it seem.
1. There’s not as much practical work as you think.
When I started my Film and Television Course in 2014, I remember thinking that it would be mostly practical work as that was what I had done in college two years beforehand. However, it was a surprise to see how many essays I had. While there is a practical side to the course such as making your own films and filming in studios, don’t expect that to be everything. The essays will require you to dabble in areas of psychology, textual analysis, philosophy, and a large amount of film and societal history – especially if you end up studying films from other countries.
2. And filming isn’t always so glamorous.
I love watching behind the scenes features for movies and television shows, but they always make it look like a lot more fun than it usually is. In my experience, filming on location has been worth it, but also an endurance challenge. Anyone who has had to do winter shoots has to agree with me here. Filming outside at night in the freezing cold for hours is hardly fun as you always have to do multiple camera shots while holding a boom mic or set up lights when your hands are numb from cold. And if you’re not a morning person, you will dread waking up early for shoots. And with student films, you normally spend a lot of time with some unusual looking props that will get you some weird looks.
3. Especially when there’s always the one person that won’t do anything.
There’s always that one person in a crew that doesn’t do anything, or if they do they usually do a bad job of it. It’s an unusual bonding experience for the rest of the crew if you have that person in your team because you seem to become friends and work better because you all have something in common – hating that person on your team. Who’d think that common hatred would bring people together in such a positive way?
4. There will always be haters.
There are people who bash media degrees without knowing anything about them, but in their defence, they’re mostly uninformed about the amount of work that goes into being creative in film. Then there are the people who bash media and say that they hate it. Fair enough but they fail to realise the hypocrisy of posting something like this on Facebook and Twitter. You can only imagine the face palms I’ve had – media is everywhere these days!
5. Which will help you develop the tough skin needed for the industry.
Many people in this industry say that you need to have a tough skin when starting out, and, after three years, I have to agree with them. There are going to be moments where criticism is going to sound harsh or unjust which will make you angry and upset, and knock your confidence. There’ll be moments where you want to give up entirely. The trick is not to take criticism too personally, learn what you can from it and move forward. Having said this, I still struggle with this, but I try to find a silver lining where possible.
6. Be prepared to live out the family dinner scene from Whiplash.
Anyone who has studied something creative or artistic has probably had this exact moment once in their life. As a writer looking to get into film and television, I’ve had to deal with people telling me that my degree won’t go anywhere. Being a creative means a lot more work and time to get started and catch a real break, but if you’re willing not to take the easy road then you can deal with this.
7. You’ll have a newfound respect for live shows.
When you’re on a live show, anything can happen. The talent on-screen has to be good at their job, but those working behind the camera are stressed as hell as they have to be on top of their game throughout. They have to be worried about sound cues, transitions, the set, camera work, health and safety, making sure the actors or on-screen talent are okay, just to name a few concerns. However, with most official shows, there are bigger crews so it probably runs smoother. With a student team, you’re not so lucky so you’ll have to be concerned and working on just about everything! Heaven forbid there’s a crisis outside of those areas. The amount of work and people that go into making a successful live show cannot be understated.
8. And you’ll definitely embrace your dark side.
For some reason, most projects I worked on or watched as a student involved someone dying or being killed in the show or film. I don’t know what that says about film and television students apart from that we all might be potential psychopaths. Apparently there isn’t a lot of drama in happiness. I have a theory that being a creative sometimes means that you have embrace your dark side and you have to be somewhat insane to even pursue a career in something creative to begin with.
9. Expensive cinemas are the enemy.
It goes without saying that you’ll be spending much of your degree watching films. However, you’ll be expected to keep up with awards season and there are a lot of Oscar, or potential Oscar, films to watch over a year. This is where having a cheap cinema with cheap tickets is great. The cost of going to a cinema begins to add up after a while and as students, you’re already struggling with money as it is. Pick the films you want to see wisely.
10. So good internet becomes your next best saviour.
The good thing about studying film and television in this day and age is that you have endless ways to watch stuff but it all relies on a good internet connection. If you aren’t in the cinema, you’ll be watching the movies necessary for class on any streaming site you can. Buffering and the wheel of death is already an annoying sight but all hell breaks loose once you see the ‘Can’t connect to the Internet’ message halfway through something you’re watching.
11. And finally, you’ll wish you worked a little harder in P.E.
Who needs a gym when you work in film and television? Chances are that if you do this course then you will spend hours working on set and carrying sets. You’ll do some weights (carrying studio flats for one) and cardio since you’ll be running back and forth from a scene dock to the gallery upstairs for hours at a time. I’m certain that I’ve finished days in the studio and gone home with bruises I didn’t even know I had and woke up the next day with muscle pain. The only thing that’s missing is someone playing Eye of the Tiger.