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Following graduation, Stephen worked as a freelance journalist for three years to complete an NCTJ qualification.
Subsequently gained experience in magazine publishing, graphic design, audio-visual production, corporate video production, and technical theatre; he is also teaching and training around these areas.
Stephen Gordon is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Digital Media Technology.
He has worked for five years at the University, teaching video production on various courses.
Giving students the skills needed to work in the industry is central to how Stephen Gordon works. Keen to maintain his handle on the world of video production, he keeps in regular contact with those working in the field, looking at new technological developments and how they are being applied in the field.
But he also encourages his students to develop their own contacts and embark on projects that are not only useful for their CVs, but are commercially viable and help to enrich the creative community in the region. A former Freelance Script Writer and Director of Corporate Videos, he moved into academia and teaching when he was invited by Sutton College (the University) to teach a group of students and challenged them to produce a video over a couple of weeks.
“It was the first time I’d tried to teach those skills I had been using. I found it very rewarding.”
His experience with corporate work made him the ideal point of contact for the West Midlands Centre for Constructing Excellence, which first asked him three years ago if his students would collaborate on a video project for its annual awards.
It wanted to add video shots of the companies shortlisted in the Celebrating Construction awards, which honour the high quality work by builders (and demolition firms) across the region. The project was so successful that it was repeated for the following two years. Stephen’s experience in carrying out such work proved vital to the success of the project.
“I liaised with client and student, showed them what should be done, did two or three of them with them, and explained how to co ordinate the project. But then it was down to the students to contact the representatives of the companies and negotiate all the work times and so on.”
This experience of working in a real-time, paid-for project has all-round benefits for the University, which is outsourcing its expertise, for the students, who are gaining valuable experience and for the business client, which is getting a high-quality product at a reduced cost.
“The client was happy as they had something of excellent quality they wouldn’t otherwise have achieved for their budget and the students had a set of experiences that were really very valuable for when they went out into the world of work.”
As a result, several students went on to form their own fledgling corporate production company.
Other successful business collaborations include working with the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company, when students were invited to film a workshop it was holding with school children, and at Birmingham City University, when visiting lecturers or special guests have been filmed.
Those students who have volunteered to work on those sorts of outside projects have found themselves in a strong position when they apply for jobs after graduation, having developed key creative, organisational and business skills.
“Those that have experience on their CV seem to get the jobs first. Partly it is because they have developed a good level of maturity in their approach to work and with dealing with people. But they’ve also had the opportunity to develop their contacts, which is crucial.”