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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.

The Projects Will Be Workshopped in Our Ayr TV Studios.

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

Clive Rumbold of ABC and the UWS Production Team

I’ve blogged before about the South Of Scotland Business Solutions Knowledge Transfer projects which the School Of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University Of The West Of Scotland  has been developing over the past few months.

We have come to the end of the cycle and all the production, editing , paperwork and reflections have been completed and finalised.

In the end, the whole process has been a challenging and exciting experience  for the Contemporary Screen Acting students and staff who took part, but the end result has made it all worthwhile.

Last year’s  level 9 students students successfully produced their  assessed assignments on time  and  achieved a  100% pass rate, and the feedback from them on their learning experience was outstandingly good.  The project has thus proved an outstanding success as a work based learning module  for the students.

Students reported that “ this has been a fantastic module for actually meeting with a client. This made it far more difficult than an ordinary module but far more rewarding “

“I was really proud of the work we did for ABC. I have never been involved in such an exciting module . It was totally different from just doing an imaginary project”

Feedback from the clients has also been overwhelmingly positive. Clive Rumbold of ABC Recruitment commented ”   The finished video  is a league away from our  original film in terms of professional creativity, presentation and filming styles.  In all we now have a professional, commercial film which delivers the messages significantly better and is already proving itself in a very short time.”

Wilma Finlay , from Cream O’ Galloway added  ” The project provided us  with a suite of high quality promotional film clips that we have used on our website and in social media to promote the fun that a wide variety of age groups can have at Cream o’ Galloway.”

Personally the most rewarding aspect of the whole process for me was the team who produced an HD quality video based on research into the life challenges of troubled  youngsters. For this  project, students Andrew O’Donnell, Amy Elftathi, Eileen Frater, James Todd and Anne-Marie O’Connor deserve special praise, along with DOP John Caldwell , who between them produced a fine piece of work.

Thanks also  must go to Eva Milroy and the staff of South Of Scotland Business Solutions for their energy and enthusiasm, and also a very special mention  from me to my colleague Joan Scott of the UWS Business School  in Dumfries who was a constant support in this whole process. Finally, none of this could have been accomplished without the filming and editing skills of UWS MA students Louise Muir and Marta Adamowicz and that wizard of Adobe Premiere Eileen Frater.

2011/12 Intake of Contemporary Screen Acting Students at UWS with social media guru @jennifermjones

I am now planning next years projects for the new intake of third year students which I hope will take this innovative knowledge transfer model to a higher level. We will be  employing  embedded Workplace Learning Students from the Filmmaking and Screenwriting Programmes at UWS, combined with the Project managing skills of industry professionals such as “Chewing the Fat” Director Michael Hines , and award winning Screenwriter and Actor Martin McCardie. Watch this space for details.

If you think you might be interested in studying Contemporary Screen Acting at the University Of The West of Scotland, visit our site here.  . Remember you  can follow me on twitter @stuart_hepburn where I tweet on all things creative at the UWS and further afield.

This is an extract of the talk I gave at the UWS Innovation And Research Business Roadshow  at the Ayr Management Centre on Thursday 31st March 2011.
The audience were a group of local entrepreneurs, SMEs, and their representatives.
Also featuring were UWS  Business Oriented Departments,  and Dr Stuart McKay  of the  West of Scotland  KTP Centre



What is the UWS Skillset Media Academy, And How Can It Help YOU?
The UWS Skillset Media Academy is effectively a group of creative media programmes from across the University of the West of Scotland. We have  gathered them together  under the Media Academy umbrella as a one stop shop to help individuals and organisations take advantage of the technical , organisational and practical resources which exist within the School of Creative and Cultural Industries.
Skillset the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media has endorsed the UWS Media Academy as a provider of excellent media education.
The UWS Skillset Media Academy comprises the following programmes:
BA (Hons) Broadcast Production
BA (Hons) Commercial Music
BSc (Hons) Computer Animation
BSc (Hons) Computer Games
BA (Hons) Digital Art
BA (Hons) Filmmaking & Screenwriting
BA (Hons) Journalism
BSc (Hons) Music Technology
BA (Hons) Sports Journalism
BA (Hons) Performance
MA Broadcast Journalism
MA Creative Media Practice
The Academy spans two Schools ie Creative & Cultural Industries and the School of Computing
It has strong links with businesses and the creative & cultural industries and aims to:
  • 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)
In fact we tell our students that their first day in the Academy is their first day in industry.
In July this year we are moving into our new state of the art Campus at UWS Ayr.
How can the Academy help YOU?
Please think of the Academy as a one-stop media shop for:
Creative content for your website – imagine how you can use a short film on your website to tell your customers about what you do and why you are the best at what you do.
Perhaps you are thinking about implementing a social media marketing plan – we can develop your company’s social media policy, implement appropriate platforms and assist you with strategies to deliver and communicate effectively using forums such as twitter, linkedin, facebook, Flickr etc.
We can develop your website and aggregate all of the new social media strands.
List of products we can offer include:
  • 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
All projects are managed and delivered in a high quality, professional way.
At present we are involved in such diverse projects as :
Creating Training videos on Workplace Discrimination for Law At Work.
Providing introductory Web videos for CeeD Companies.
Creating Web Content for  Applied Care And Development
We are working with Cream O Galloway Organic Farms, ABC Recruitment, and are in pilot talks with many other emerging SMEs and businesses.
Please come and visit the SKillset Media Academy Website for more information, or contact :
UWS Skillset Media Academy Manager

Glasgow city centre panorama from Lighthouse t...

Creative View From Glasgow.

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.

Steve Briggs(Law At Work) Chris Young (Associate), Stuart Hepburn (UWS)

After a demanding recruitment process, one of our most promising graduates from the Performance BA(Hons) programme 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”

Chris Young & The Class of 2010 (Upstage Centre, of Course! ) Picture Chris Gilgallon

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

TV Studio at UWS

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 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 . Viewed  1/07/10

3. Law At Work-What we do. . Viewed 1/10/10

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