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The first cohort of 4th year honours Contemporary Screen Acting Students graduate on Friday. This would be as good a time as any to look back and reflect on the first two years of the Programme to assess how we have developed and where we might be going.

The Class of 2011

There was a crucial point in the development of Contemporary Screen Acting at University Of The West Of Scotland and it took place after the initial Accreditation Panel meeting in March 2010. Generally , the panel was very supportive of the notion of a new niche degree in Screen Acting. It would fit snugly between our two other programmes, Performance and Musical Theatre. It would encompass Social Media and the New Technologies, it would arm actors with the skills to navigate the post-web 2.0 world. It would be new and exciting, collaborative and inclusive. But there was one thing missing. The name. The name was going to be “Screen Acting”, but somehow the panel felt that this didn’t suitably reflect the course content. It needed something else. Something to bring it up to date. Now whether it was Dr Sarah Nealy from the University of Stirling, or Ali de Souza from the then RSAMD, someone came up with  the term….”Contemporary Screen Acting”.

I didn’t like it.

Cheifly I didn’t like it because I didn’t think of it first. In my mind  wanted the Programme to have a be simple, short and easy to remember title, and I reckoned it was a bit of a mouthful. But….I had no option. The panel wanted a name change and that was that.

Two years later, I love it. The word “contemporary” is one of those plastic, malleable catch all words which immediately fit in any situation where you have just come up with a new idea…and that is exactly what the last two years of Contemporary Screen Acting has been all about. A series of new experiments, new ways of teaching, new ways of learning, new ways of creating work for the small group of screen actors who I have had the privelege of teaching . The small group of graduates (including TWO first class honours) have been the first group of my  students to use iPods instead of video cameras, twitter instead of feedback sheets, iMovie instead of Final Cut Pro, a Panasonic AGF 101 instead of an ancient Sony Z-1. At the same time, they have been the first group of my students to make REAL videos for REAL clients, created their entire corpus of work online in their own showreels, and finally the first group who are able to go out into the world with the skills necessary for success in the connected, networked world of 2012.

Some new stuff we tried didn’t work. But thats the nature of experimntation and “contemporary” practice. If it doesn’t work, all you have to do is just not do it again. A bit of a no brainer.

Anyway, congratulations to my Honours students, and thanks for the exhilarating journey that the first two years of Contemporary Screen Acting has been. Here’s to the next two.

If you want an example of my student’s work, or are interested in studying at UWs, here’s a video which our 3rd years made to market their course.

Here’s to the next two years .


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.

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