What do you do when your course is finished but you want to continue learning and developing with your classmates? Get together and create your own specially tailored graduate programme.
That’s exactly what the 12 members of the HND class of 2019 at the Northern Ireland Film and Television School at SERC did.
The students completed the HND in June but loved working together so much that they designed the NIFTS Graduate Filmmaking Course themselves and persuaded the college to help them continue to learn.
Now the entire class has been honoured in the NI Creative and Cultural Skills Awards winning the student of the year award, the first time a whole class has won this accolade.
The NI Creative & Cultural Skills Awards celebrate the outstanding work of young people in the creative industries and those from industry and education who help them along the way.
Sarah Jones of Creative & Cultural Skills NI explained: “As a class they went over and above in their dedication to learn and develop industry engagement and collaborate to deliver work that would not have been possible individually.”
The students are now attending an evening graduate course in addition to their industry work commitments. For NIFTS Course Coordinator Alison Thompson this class was a dream team. “These are a phenomenal group of students. Collectively their commitment to learn and their drive to succeed in the industry is staggering. They formed their own production company within the course set-up and constantly booked the kit out, crewing alongside each other on client shoots and projects.”
The students – Marc McCabe, Robbie Coey, John Lennox, Josh Bell, Antonia Cowan, Jane McLaughlin, Lee Seales, Chris Mills, Stephen Parker, Rebecca Harrison, Colin Bloomer and Samantha Davies – come from all over Northern Ireland to study at SERC. And Samantha Davies has travelled from far flung Melbourne, Australia. The former cinema manager dreamt of making movies but found the course in Australia too expensive. With family in Northern Ireland, she decided to come to the NI Film & Television School at SERC to do the course.
The classmates have gone on to land some great work on programmes including Frontline Firefighters, the Nolan Show, BBCNI’s School Choir of the Year, Dublin Murders, RTE’s Eat The Rich, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Mastermind. One of the group is also working on a new series for Netflix.
The students had the option of direct entry into the third year of Edinburgh Napier’s BA Hons in Television Production but this class wanted to stay at NIFTS.
“We thought they were joking at first but they came back with a plan to do an evening class of pure filmmaking. They aim to make a short film and a short documentary, both for festival distribution. They also wanted some masterclasses they felt they would benefit from. It’s an exciting new teaching model and they’re all 100% invested in creating something special. We’re excited as their teachers to see what we can produce together this time round,” Alison Thompson added.
Both Alison and colleague Pete Graham were Highly Commended in the NI Creative & Cultural Skills Tutor of the Year Award.