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Shaun Magher

Course Leader: MA Feature Film Development

What have been your career highlights so far?

That’s a very difficult question as there are so many. Animating Captain Caveman is certainly up there.

What is your favourite thing about working at Birmingham City University?

Working with so many talented and driven students. Helping them realise their potential in their chosen specialist area.

How did you come to your current role?

I have worked as an Animation Director, Supervisor, or Creative Director on so many projects and with so many great studios over the years. I came to the University with a plan to set up a unique course that is focused on developing feature films. With the guidance and advice from my colleagues I have managed to do just that. I am passionate and excited by what we are doing every day on the course.

What are your specialist areas of expertise?

I would say that I am passionate about story structure and performance. Working as a character animator over so many years, it's what is at its core. Also, understanding how to portray emotion in immersive storytelling.

What are your research interests?

I spend a lot of time developing story and characters, nowadays mainly writing feature screenplays. I am also passionate about keeping ahead of technology curves. Using and promoting the most up to date production processes and working closely with the software houses who create them.

What can prospective students look forward to most when they join your course?

Working within a collaborative team in their specialism developing a live feature that will be pitched to industry. That is what this course is all about in a nut shell.

What are your top tips for students thinking about joining your course?

Be aware of what makes narratives work. Whether you are a writer, producer, concept artist, animator etc. Knowing and understanding story is everything. It is what every person in a production pipeline is contributing to, an immersive entertaining experience.

Why do you think it’s important to study a Master's degree?

Studying a master’s allows students to focus on their main specialism; producer, screenwriter, concept artist, story artist etc. I always suggest that anyone who is thinking of doing a master's course, must have foundation processes in place. This is why most have completed undergraduate degrees. If you use a master’s degree to learn foundation skills, it is a waste of time. Do an undergraduate course first. Or, if you have been working in the industry for a while and want to shift your specialism, a master's is a good route. Those students who are succeeding on Feature Film Development already have some foundation experiences within their specialist area. They are using this course to develop fantastic portfolio work within a team.

What are the benefits of studying in Birmingham?

Firstly, this course is the only course of its kind and it happens to be in Birmingham City University, which is in my home city. Secondly, there is a vibrant creative community in the city and lots of opportunities to meet up with like-minded people. Thirdly, it is one of the fastest developing cities in Europe. Oh and the University is fabulous.

What do you believe it takes to work in the film industry?

Passion! A specialism. A focused attitude and a stellar portfolio and body of work that opens doors. A proven track record that you can work within a team of film making/developing film/TV specialists. Making sure you get your work seen by those who are hiring. Network, Network, Network. You have to make connections.

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