Bsc (Hons) Film Technology and Visual Effects 2016
James came to Birmingham City University to further his ambition of pursuing a career in TV and film. Having taken advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities at our new Parkside Building, he has been taking his first steps to building the contacts and experience he needs to succeed in the industry by working for the BBC on the new series of popular TV comedy Still Open All Hours.
“I chose Birmingham City University because the facilities at The Parkside Building were brand new, with the latest camera equipment and the largest TV studio at a university. I really liked the structure of the course and after several Open Days and exploring the city of Birmingham, I felt that it would offer me the opportunity to really succeed with my passion and interest in film and television.
“I had friends at the University and they highly recommended it for studying a degree and for being in a central location for ease of travelling to other towns or cities. I’m from Burton-on-Trent, so I had the option to either commute or stay in halls of residence. In my first year I lived in Birmingham, but now I travel in every day, which doesn’t take long on the train and has worked out for the best since I have been travelling all over for work experience.
During my time at the University, I’ve been lucky enough to build a relationship with the BBC. I managed to get three days’ work experience on the Still Open All Hours Christmas special on location in Doncaster where I helped with crowd control, supervised team members, provided refreshments, and most importantly watched over the production.
“Due to the programme’s high viewing figures and popularity at Christmas, the BBC announced to my delight that they were bringing it back for a full series. I knew I had to get involved again, so after scrolling through the credits of the Christmas special, I managed to get in touch with a few of the crew members via LinkedIn and asked whether I could help out on the series like I had done before. To my surprise and they said yes!
“This time they were filming for two weeks which gave me more time to make friendships and, most importantly, contacts. As the days went on, I managed to do a variety of different tasks but the best part was being a First Assistant Cinematographer for a couple of days. That included loading the clapper board, maintaining the equipment, communicating with the camera operator and so forth. In those two I can easily say I had some of the happiest times of my life and met some amazing people which I can now proudly say are my friends!
“Shortly after filming in Doncaster, I had a phone call from the manager. He told me that he wanted to offer me a part-time job, being a runner for the studio work of Still Open All Hours in London. I obviously took up his offer in pure delight – I absolutely enjoyed working on the set and was so proud of myself that I had managed to become part of the team. They all made me feel welcome and by the end of all felt like family!
“I’ve stayed in touch with the BBC management, and only last week I went down to Pinewood Studios to help out on series two of W1A. I plan to go back to London hopefully for more work experience and little jobs every now and again.”
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