Coming to Nescot was a no-brainer for me. I’ve always been into film and TV since I can remember, and I ended up doing a programme for young people at the British Film Institute where we made a film over four weeks. Seeing the film come together was a formative experience for me. I met someone who’d come to Nescot, and all she talked about was how practical the course was and all the stuff she’d learnt. I came to an open evening here and I knew straight away it was the best course I was going to find. Next year I’m going to the University of Gloucestershire to do Film Production, and I’ll be specialising in screenwriting and editing.
My favourite part of the course was doing The Retreat, a horror film that we shot on location in the Peak District. Until that point we had usually worked in small groups covering what an entire film crew would do, but with The Retreat we treated it like an actual film. As well as having people on every role from stage design to script supervision, we also had to fundraise and promote it ourselves, so we got to learn a bit about that side of the business too. It meant we could be involved in every aspect of the filmmaking, but without being there just to get tea and coffee for people. Then we premiered the film at the BFI in central London.
We also went to New York, which was an amazing experience. We worked in groups to produce a film so we got to shoot in Central Park, which was unbelieveable. To be this age and to have made a film in New York is a great thing to have on your CV. You never expect to be able to filming internationally when you’re at college. We saw a lot, like the Museum of Moving Image, and we spotted a lot of locations from films. It also gave us an insight into what it’s like travelling as a film crew.
This year was also really special because I was part of a team that won Gold in the Moving Image category of the national WorldSkills UK finals. I don’t know how to describe WorldSkills other than to say it was an intense and unparalleled experience. We worked under a lot of time pressure as a team, and were at the mercy of technology. It taught me a lot about things like teamwork and communication, but more than anything it showed me that this is what I want to do with my life. I’m really thankful to the Media staff for choosing me to be in the team, and for helping us through the process.
I think GCSEs and A-Levels are great as a starting point, but in my opinion they don’t prepare you for the industry. At Nescot you’re encouraged to be bold and think outside the box, which helps you learn what works and why. You’re doing everything yourself, so if you’re writing then you’re writing about your own experience, not reading from a book about something that someone else has done. I have friends doing A-Levels in similar subjects who have picked up a camera once or twice, but that’s been their only experience of doing it for themselves. I’m so glad I choose this course at Nescot.
There is a big jump from school in terms of the technical side, but the teachers are very aware of that and they really help you to learn everything at your own pace. I think 90% of the students have never used a camera before, so really everyone learns together. That means it’s even more satisfying at the end of the course - you sit in the end-of-year screening and awards show, and think about where you were at the start of the course and how far you’ve come. It’s pretty amazing.