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I have blogged in the past about the Commercial Screen Project module at the University Of The West Of Scotland . This is an innovative “real life” project where 3rd Year student Teams use their acting, writing and filming skills create a web video for an external client.
This year I am delighted to reveal that two of the clients for whom the teams are creating web content are Spirit Aid , the Charity set up by Glasgow born actor David Hayman, and the UWS Skillset Media Academy, based in Paisley. Spirit Aid wish to promote their annual Fund Raising climb of Ben Nevis on the 19th of May, and Margaret Scott, manager of the Skillset Media Academy is using the talents of the students to publicise the opening of the innovative Social Media Hub in March.
Students teams have already had preliminary meetings with the management of both organisations to discuss the brief, and are currently researching and planning the next stage of the process.
They are aided by two Industry Practitioners who will be Project Managing the entire process. Director Michael Hines of Chewing the Fat and Still Game fame will be leading up the Skillset team, and Writer and Actor Martin McCardie will be responsible for the Spirit Aid Project.
All aspects of the videos will be researched. workshopped, recorded, edited and distributed by UWS students. Teams are using the skills of 4th Year Contemporary Screen Acting students, Commercial Music Students, and Film Making & Screenwriting Students to ensure that the finished products are of the highest standard.
I hope to blog on the progress of the projects as they develop, and look forward to showcasing the end products towards the end of May
- Provide students with relevant work experience (eg through the UWS Production Company)
- Provide Continuous Professional Development for individuals and businesses in the Creative & Cultural Industries.
- Produce talented, experienced and industry ready graduates.
- Work seamlessly with industry in the areas of research and knowledge exchange (eg Knowledge Transfer Partnerships)
- Filming eg for the web, awards ceremony presentations, promotional work, training videos through the UWS Production Company
- Training/implementation of social media to promote your business
- Developing a media marketing plan
- Writing for the web / web translations
- Presentation Skills
- Short tailored courses
The University Of The West Of Scotland’s School of Creative and Cultural Industries Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is aimed at producing an innovative training video on discrimination at work. The project is designed as bespoke piece of training for our partners, leading Glasgow law firm, Law at Work, and is now entering a crucial phase in Week 7.
UWS graduate and KTP Associate Chris Young has delivered a 20 page research dossier on Innovative Training Videos which was discussed at our last programme meeting at our partner Law At Work’s HQ in Glasgow. This impressive body of research will provide the creative team with the theoretical underpinning for the next stage of the process. It is this critical research based approach which makes the KTP unique in terms of it’s impact on our creative educational practice and the service that we can provide for industrial partners such as Law At Work.
In the light of our discussions, Chris is now finalising the shooting script of the web-based training video. With a planned screentime of 20 minutes, and a cast of 12, this is a major undertaking for Chris as a first time professional director. Camera, lighting, sound , makeup, and catering have all been finalised for the weekend shoot, and if the script outlines are anything to go by, we are looking forward to a fantastic piece of work from Chris and his production team.
The final draft of the script will be ready by Friday 29th of October, casting will have been finalised by Wednesday 3rd November, ready for the shoot on Sat and Sun 6th and 7th of November. The KTP team are taking over the entire floor of Law At Works offices for two days in order to shoot the video.
Post production is slotted in at UWS Ayr for the two weeks after this, with a planned delivery of the final product to our clients Law at Work on 22nd of November. As luck would have it, the filming of the new video takes place at the same time as Law At Work are undertaking a complete re-branding of their website and corporate identity. It is planned to coordinate the launch of the video with the new website in the new year. The timing for all of this could not be better.
It has been a challenging process for all involved, particularly since this is the first ever KTP embarked upon by the School Of Creative And Cultural Industries.
These are exciting times for all those involved in this unique project. There’s no doubt that this will lay down a marker for the sort of creative engagement with industry which the UWS Skillset Media Academy plans to roll out in the future.
After a demanding recruitment process, one of our most promising graduates from the Performanceprogramme at the UWS School of Creative And Cultural Industries started work this week on a brand new Knowledge Transfer Partnership.
Chris Young , pictured left in the Law At Work HQ, is no stranger to those who saw his porfolio of films at our Annual Showcase in April. As part of the Tenement Productions Team, Chris was winner of the Willie Strachan Gold Medal for Creativity.
Chris is an accomplished performer, director and editor, and I am confident that he can act as a creative dynamo in the 10 week process which will result in an innovative training video for our Partners, Law At Work. He has completed the first week of the research phase and over the next two weeks will meet clients,practitioners and other trainers to establish the theoretical underpinning of the bespoke training video around the subject of Sex Discrimination at Work. After that, Chris has seven weeks to write the script, recruit the performers, and direct and edit the final video. The plan is for it to become the first in a series of videos around various aspects of employment law.
Chris is looking forward to the whole process, even although the fact that he became a dad two weeks ago means that his time will be equally divided between researching the script and battling the symptoms of colic!
At the Law at Work HQ today he said “It feels like this project is exactly the sort of thing I have been trained for at the UWS. I spent two years with my fellow students preparing for this and I am really looking forward to directing my first professional training film”
It is especially exciting for myself as an an academic, as this is the first ever KTP for the School of Creative & Cultural Industries. For background on this see my earlier blog. It will not only provide a great opportunity for Chris , but it will act as an innovative testing ground for the development of our relations with industry. Creative Industries KTPs are rare beasts indeed, and we at the School Of Creative and Cultural Industries aim for this to be the start of an ongoing process of engagement with business. At the very core of what we aim to do at UWS is to create Graduates who are fit for purpose with the transferable skills suited to the needs of a rapidly changing outside world .
Steve Briggs, Operations Director with Law At Work said: “We’re delighted to be linking up with the UWS to produce what I’m certain will be a high-quality training video, with a “made in Scotland” feel to it. We seized the opportunity to work with a team that includes a high calibre graduate, and accomplished actor and writer Stuart Hepburn. This was only possible financially because of the KTP funding structure, and we anticipate long-term benefits from the partnership”
No pressure there, then! I should add that my colleague Helen Kennedy at the Innovation and Research Office at UWS and I have received excellent support and advice from Alasdair Cameron at the West Of Scotland KTP Centre . It’s been a real team effort, due in no small part to their unstinting support and I am grateful to them all.
It’s early days in the production process, and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We have to come up with a first class piece of work for Steve and the team at Law At Work, but if the way things have gone so far has been anything to go by, I am confident we can repay their commitment.
I’ll report further on the process as it develops over the next 10 weeks.
Anyone wanting more information regarding knowledge transfer opportunities should visit http://www.uws.ac.uk/iro
The first ever Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) for the University Of The West Of Scotland’s School Of Creative and Cultural Industries (UWSSCCI) was approved for funding this week. This is an important step forward in the University’s central strategic goal of having…..
“an applied research base in all of our key subject areas to enhance our wider reputation, contribute to external links, the quality of key programmes and to our credibility as a provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes. “1.
Across the United Kingdom, KTPs have been developed to fulfill the core function of enhancing the engagement of academic institutions with industry. All well and good, but up until now , it has proven particularly problematic for the UWS SCCI to initiate these in the context of the fast changing and converging Creative Industries, where the importance of the bottom line is putting innovation and creativity under more and more pressure. Given this, the success of our first short KTP , however modest in scale, is particularly welcome in these times of financial challenge and academic funding uncertainty.
So what is a KTP? Fundamentally it is a three way symbiotic partnership between an Academic, a Business Partner and a recently qualified Graduate Student or “Associate”. It is a UK wide programme which is funded by the Technology Strategy Board with 17 other funding organisations.
“KTP works with over 100 universities, further education (FE) colleges, and research and technology organisations (RTO) across the UK, which translates into over 450 university departments. That includes all Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) rated departments, covering a wide range of academic disciplines – including engineering, computer sciences, physics and mathematics, management, social sciences and the arts.” 2.
Successful KTPs are a win win situation for Universities, Businesses and the successful Graduate Associate. The KTP website informs us that since their inception, KTPs have benefitted businesses by an overall increase in taxable income of over £100 million pounds. From our point of view, academic institutions also benefit by being funded to apply their research and innovative practices towards industry, and finally the Associate Graduate student who is employed on the KTP has the opportunity of working in a supportive environment at an early stage of their career to work on a cutting edge, practical task. It looks pretty good on their CV too, and may well lead to more permanent employment should the KTP be deemed successful.
For those of us in the School of Creative and Cultural Industries, it means that we can share our creative knowledge, research and innovative practice with an outside business in order to transfer skills which the partner company needs to help increase efficiency, development and profitability. Through action research, it can inform, develop and enhance our teaching methodology and delivery in the light of real links with major industrial players. It allows us to engage in high level strategic interaction with the people who will potentially employ our graduates. It forces us to live in the real world and create teaching and learning which is relevant to the fast changing world of the Creative Industries.
In the light of this, a KTP is the opposite of an academic “exercise”. Rather, it is a concrete relationship with a commercial concern. The Commercial partners participation in the process is key. From the KTPs inception and throughout its term, the Partner will be asking serious questions about its efficacy, relevance and ability to enhance the bottom line of their balance sheets. Let’s be clear on this, KTPs exist to help businesses to make money. If they don’t, then on an elementary level, they have failed. For all the advantages they provide our graduates and our research, if the partner has lost money , we won’t be seeing them again in a hurry, and this relationship is one which we want to last longer than simply one short KTP. We want to develop business partners for long term strategic aims , not the short term benefit of three months work for a graduate.
So who is our business partner in our first KTP? The BBC? STV? Possibly a leading independent programme maker? None of these. Somewhat surprisingly , they are a a leading Glasgow legal advice business, Law At Work. You can find out all about them at their website http://www.lawatwork.co.uk/ which explains that …..
“Law At Work is a business support organisation, specialising in helping clients identify, manage, reduce, and eliminate risk to their businesses in the fields of employment law, human resources, and health & safety. The company achieves this by adopting a prevention rather than cure approach. We ensure that clients’ employment documentation is up to date and fit for purpose, and we update it throughout the relationship. We supplement this with 24/7 advisory services. Additionally we provide tailored training and project management services in our areas of expertise.” 3.
Law at Work are a successful, innovative and expanding company.Their employees spend their time travelling up and down the country at great expense, time and ecological deficit personally delivering workshops to clients on such matters as Health and Safety at Work, Sex and Racial Discrimination, Employment Tribunals and the like. What they do NOT have are the skills to create a web deliverable interactive service for their clients, and that is where the UWS comes in.
Steve Briggs, Law At Work’s operations director , has been involved with employment law since the late 1970s, and has worked in advisory, representation and teaching roles in the public, private, and voluntary sectors. He realised that there was a need for his company to produce new interactive training videos on particular aspects of Employment Law. Steve approached me and asked if there was any way that I could assist him in the creation of such a film. The initial idea was that myself, as a scriptwriter, and Michael Hines, one of our practitioner lecturers, would write and direct a video. The only input that the UWS was to have at this time was for it to be an opportunity to engage my BA(Hons) Performance students in some valuable Work Based Learning as Actors and Production Assistants.
However, I realised that if the project could be re-framed , it could well be adapted into a fully fledged Knowledge Transfer Partnership, where one of our top Graduates could be employed full time to research and create the video, while still providing much needed experience for our students to engage in the process at the performing stage. When Helen Kennedy, our Knowledge Transfer Officer informed me of the recent creation of “short” KTPs of 10-12 weeks, I realised that this was an ideal opportunity to move the whole project forward. With Steve’s approval, and with Helen’s energetic support and guidance, we set the wheels in motion.
The process was not without its challenges. Law at Work has 19 employees , and we had initially thought that as such they would qualify for a Small And Medium Enterprise (SME) 60% grant for all expenses. Unfortunately, when the numbers were crunched and the details examined, it became clear that they were in fact owned by a larger parent company, and hence would lose their SME status and thus have to contribute 60% of the cost. Steve had initially allocated a specific budget to the process, but recognised the value of the KTP, and agreed to go back to his board and ask that they provide the extra tranche of money for the project. A further meeting with his CEO and our staff ensured that the additional funding was provided, and I am eternally grateful to Steve for his support and encouragement throughout this process. If it has taught me one thing it is that if one has not won the argument of the value of the whole process, there are many ways in the which the reluctant partner can smile, and wave goodbye.The wholehearted support of the business partner is a crucial element in the success of any KTP. It is better to spend six months going through the details of what the financial implications are for the Partner, rather than initiating the grant application process too soon. The KTP process is about partnership, and mutual trust, and if you don’t have that you don’t have anything. A wedding with a reluctant bride or groom can only end in tears, however much the minister may wish to bless the union.
So, last week , after in all about a years discussions, we heard that our application had been successful. Now, with all the funding in place, myself as leading academic and my Law at Work as Partners are in a position to jointly appoint a Graduate Associate who will join Law At Work’s payroll as a Production Manager. They will be tasked with researching and creating a bespoke interactive training video deliverable by web streaming and DVD. The key word here is “researching”. There are any number of Corporate Video concerns who could create an off the peg video of whatever standard, but what Law at Work would NOT get would be a comprehensive research paper on state of the art interactivity and their relevance to the online delivery of the firm’s commercial product. As such, the research capabilities of the successful candidate is every bit as important as their abilities as a film maker.
My role at the UWS is to act as a tutor, mentor and enabler for the Graduate Associate in his or her time at the company in order to ensure that the work carried out to the high standard which industry demands.
We have high hopes for this project. It may well serve as a pro forma for future SCCI KTP’s. There must be many commercial companies, SME’s, Health Trusts Community Groups and the like out there who have a very clear narrative to share, but are unsure of the best way of disseminating it. Training videos abound, but anyone who has attended a corporate training event will know that many of them seem to have been created by David Brent, rather than David Lynch. I can see a future where the SCCI could be the first stop shop for a business or company who wish to get their message out to the world, and wish to use our expertise to work out how best to do it.
Our expectations are tempered by realism. The finished artefact will be created on a very small budget, and though we hope for success, the whole enterprise is entrepreneurial in nature and success is not guaranteed.With this caveat in mind, we shall work hard to minimise the risk and maximise the chances of commercial success. It may well be that from an academic research point of view, the process itself is more important than the final end product, but we are committed to making this as high a quality a training video as we can .
For myself as a teacher, it will provide me with a unique opportunity to develop a creative project from inception, all the way through to its commercial realisation, something which I have been doing as a practitioner for the past thirty years (with lesser or greater degrees of success). The important point is that from this initial KTP experience will hopefully flow innovative teaching practice based on the experience gained from this real world practice, and it may well spawn undergraduate projects and useful business contact for Work Based Learning in the future.
As a practitioner engaged in active research, the papers and publications which will flow from the project ( and indeed from the Associate) are potentially REF submissible and will hopefully provide the quality, impact and vitality needed to enhance and develop the SCCI’s research profile.
All in all , then exciting times for the School Of Creative and Cultural Industries. I am at this moment liaising with HR for the engagement of a suitably qualified Graduate Associate. I will be able to furnish readers with more details of this as the process unfolds.
1. UWS Strategic Plan 2005-9, Page 16 .
2. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships http://www.ktponline.org.uk/academics . Viewed 1/07/10
3. Law At Work-What we do. http://www.lawatwork.co.uk/ . Viewed 1/10/10