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 Scottish actress Blythe Duff recently visited Contemporary Screen Acting students at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and took  part in the ongoing StudioLab collaboration project.

Blythe was visiting the studios to record excerpts of Scottish Poetry which will soon be seen on the Infinite Scotland website. Blythe then followed her recording session with a Question and Answer session chaired by UWS Student Natalie Smith, where she answered student  queries on the subject of contemporary screen acting. The entire process was recorded by UWS students and will be edited by the UWS technical team of   Jamie Hare and Keith Bird  and placed online soon.

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Blythe Duff with UWS Filmmaking student Elsi Vehkaniemi.

Blythe said: “I had a fantastic time with the students at UWS. I had no idea that the studio facilities at UWS Ayr were so advanced.The whole StudioLab project where students collaborate with one another across programmes is exactly what the professional business is really like.  I will definitely be back in the future to see how their work is progressing   and wish them all the very best ”

The University’s BA (Hons) Performance, BA (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting and BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programmes were among the first in the UK to achieve Drama UK Recognition – a New Level of Quality Assurance for Drama Training Providers. This recognition  offers students and their future employers assurance that a course with this award has been through a rigorous assessment including a visit from a panel of industry experts to ensure that it delivers what it promises and provides a real benefit to the industry.

Tutors at UWS are committed to giving students an authentic experience of the contemporary creative industries practice, and structured workshops and visits by practitioners such as Blythe Duff are an essential part of that process.

For more information on Contemporaray Screen Acting at UWS, please click here.

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This video was created by University Of The West Of Scotland students to publicise and market their Contemporary Screen Acting Degree.

If you have a Higher National Diploma or equivalent in a Performance -based subject, then this two year top up Degree Programme is designed for you.

Contemporary Screen Acting At UWS


This Video was made by UWS Contemporary Screen Acting students.


 

PRESTIGIOUS DRAMA UK RECOGNITION FOR THE FOLLOWING PROGRAMMES

·         University of the West of Scotland – BA (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting

·         University of the West of Scotland – BA (Hons) Musical Theatre

·         University of the West of Scotland – BA (Hons) Performance

Three University of the West of Scotland (UWS) degree programmes are among the first in the UK to achieve Drama UK Recognition – a New Level of Quality Assurance for Drama Training Providers.

Drama UK, the organisation which champions quality drama training in the UK, has awarded the first of its brand new quality marks to three courses at UWS – BA (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting, BA (Hons) Musical Theatre, and BA (Hons) Performance.

The new quality mark entitled ‘Recognition’ offers students and their future employers assurance that a course with this award has been through a rigorous assessment including a visit from a panel of industry experts to ensure that it delivers what it promises and provides a real benefit to the industry.

Ian Kellgren, Chief Executive of Drama UK, said: “We are delighted to award the first of our Recognition marks. We have piloted this new level of quality assurance thanks to support from Creative Skillset.”

Historically, industry accredited quality assurance has only been available to vocational courses at conservatoire drama schools. The development of this new quality mark is part of Drama UK’s mission to broaden the reach of its quality assurance in the sector.

Kellgren added: “The drama training landscape has changed significantly since quality assurance for drama training was originally set up by The National Council of Drama Training (NCDT) in the 1970s. We have acknowledged that there are now many more providers in this sector and there is a need to provide quality assurance for courses that are less vocational than conservatoire training but offer a very real benefit to the industry.”

Drama UK took on the Quality Assurance role from National Council for Drama Training (NCDT) when it merged with the Conference of Drama Schools in June, and continues to champion quality drama training in the UK through advocacy, advice and assurance.

Jane Robertson, UWS Senior Lecturer and Performance Area Subject Leader said “We are delighted that all three UWS performance related degree programmes are among the first in the UK to be granted Drama UK Recognition, a quality assurance mark that UWS staff and students are very proud of.”

A new Drama UK website, www.dramauk.co.uk, is due to launch later this year and will contain the full list of all Accredited and Recognised courses as well as other vocational training available. There will also be information and advice for students looking for drama and technical theatre training.

Notes:

UWS School of Creative and Cultural Industries – a Skillset Media Academy www.uws.ac.uk/cci provides industry-ready degree programmes, designed by staff with wide-ranging experience in broadcasting, film, journalism, music, performance and the visual arts. It strives to produce graduates who will be able to compete successfully in their chosen sectors, set up their own production company/creative business, and demonstrate a critically aware, theoretically informed view of their discipline. The School leads UWS’ Skillset Media Academy – one of only three Skillset Academies in Scotland – an industry-accredited network of excellence.

 

Drama UK provides a unique link between the theatre, media and broadcast industries and drama training providers in the UK. It gives a united, public voice to this sector; offers help and advice to drama students of all ages; and awards a quality kite mark to the very best drama training in the UK.

Creative Skillset (www.creativeskillset.org) is the Creative Industries’ Sector Skills Council (SSC) which comprises TV, film, radio, interactive media, animation, computer games, facilities, photo imaging, publishing, advertising and fashion and textiles. Its aim is to support the productivity of our industry to ensure that it remains globally competitive. It does this by influencing and leading; developing skills, training and education policy; and through opening up the industries to the UK’s pool of diverse talent.

Congratulations to all staff and students involved in the bidding and evaluation process!


Just got this on the hotline from my colleague Dr David Manderson

“Congratulations to Kirsty McConnell, a graduate of last year’s Honours Screenwriting/Film-Making degree, for winning first prize in the London Screenwriters’ ‘Fifty Kisses’ short film script competition for her short script ‘Enough.

You can read her script and the judges’ comments here:

http://www.50kissesfilm.com/50-kisses-the-screenplays/enough-by-kirsty-mcconnell/

Well done Kirsty! A career beckons.”


This week Contemporary Screen Acting students at the University of The West of Scotland took part in the launch of a unique new creative Screenwriting project. “Studio Lab” is based in the UWS new 80 million pound Ayr campus where students have access to two  full HD state of the art TV Studios.

As part of their final year Research Project, Ba (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting  students are creating an hour long drama which will be recorded live in  December  at UWS studio 1 .However, what makes this cross-over project unique is that students from other UWS Programmes are being integrated from the beginning into what will be a 12 week process.

Every Wednesday afternoon, Film Making & Screenwriting  students will help to develop the narrative, Broadcast Production students will be in charge of the recording and vision mixing it, Commercial Music students will supply the soundtrack and so on. The whole enterprise will come to a climax on Dec 5th when the entire team , directed by “Chewing The Fat and “Still Game” director Michael Hines, will record the drama “live” in the TV Studio.

As leader of the Programme, I am supposedly  in creative charge of the whole process but if truth be told it is the students who are leading the way. The first step was taken in our main Studio 1  yesterday when the actors took started  their initial improvisation .They are charged with the task   of creating three dimensional characters who will eventually go on to improvise a script which will then be rehearsed and acted out  in the drama.

While the Screen Acting students took part in a tense “hot seat” improv, Film Makers recorded their every move on two HD cameras. By next week we will have a digitised and  edited Quicktime of the process created by the Film Makers , and it will be viewed by all participants . They will then discuss the characterisation  , decide what to use and what to drop, and then move on to recording  the next stage of the improvisation,  and so on. A script will evolve over the first 6 weeks of this process, and by week 11, a fully fledged unique studio drama will have emerged to be recorded in  the final week.

Students at the first session described the process as being “an intense experience”……”as soon as I was under the lights, all the stuff I had planned on using disappeared, and I found I was really being the character”.

The whole idea of the “Studio Lab” process is to create an exciting collaborative environment where we mimic the professional Creative Industries where teams of different disciplines get together to create the final product. If the first week is anything to go by, it will reap creative rewards. We don’t know if the final  programme  will be a comedy, a drama, or a mixture of the two genres, but it will certainly be a unique  experience for all concerned.


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 .


I have taught Screenwriting and Performance at the University Of The West of Scotland since 2006.  Dr Sarah Neely, who at that time was teaching Screenwriting  here,  originally asked me to visit   to deliver a one hour talk on my work in the Creative Industries. At that time the institution was called “The University Of Paisley” .  I thought I was agreeing to go and talk in Paisley, Renfrewshire,  until the day before the visit  I  looked at a map armed with the Post Code and realised that I was booked to speak in Ayr. Ayr???  What….Ayr, Ayrshire? Robert Burns? Ice Cream? Butlins? I remember phoning Sarah up the night before and asking her once again…”

“It is Ayr you want me to go to, is it? ”

She assured me that it was indeed the toon of honest men and bonnie lasses,  and off I went with my bike on the train, to Ayr the next day. I got out at the end of the line, and outside the station, asked the ticket inspector  if he could tell me the way to the University. “Oh aye, ” he said, ” Ayr College….doon there, mate…”

“No..not Ayr College…..the University….” I said.

He drew himself up to his full 5’5″ , cupped his fag against the wind, and said ” There’s nae University in Ayr, son….”

Noting my puzzlement, one of his colleagues paused from rolling a cigarette and shouted over…” It’s Craigie he’s wantin’, Wullie”

With that, a light came on in Wullie’s eye…” Oh..CRAIGIE, is it?….how did you no say?” And with that he gave me pinpoint directions to the  Craigie Campus of the University Of Paisley.

6 years later and I am still here.

The New Campus

The New University Campus In Ayr

Now renamed University Of The West Of Scotland after its merger with Bell College Hamilton, and newly relocated in our new £80 million state of the art campus on the banks of the River Ayr, the place I work in  now is very different from the leaky, drafty, run down ex-teacher training college I walked into that day in March 2006. Thankfully, there is sign outside the town which says “Ayr..A University Town” , so that even Wullie from the station will now realise that there is a University in Ayr…and a damn fine one at that!

But there is something else that hasn’t changed at all. The students. Oh they aren’t exactly the same student’s of course. Six cohorts of graduates have moved on and made a life for themselves in the time I have been there. But they are exactly the same type of students.A large percentage of them tend to come from the same housing schemes, the same small towns, the same Islands  and urban conurbations as  they did then.

There is a specific “look”  and “sound” to a group of  UWS students.  I can’t define it, but I can instantly recognise it. I have lectured to MA students in  ancient oak and leather furnished rooms at St Andrews: to groups of  Film Students in  a modern Lecture Theatre at the University of Stirling: to  Theatre Studies Graduates in a beautifully dramatic arts “Church”  at Glasgow Uni. Every one of those groups   was instantly differentiated from my students at UWS.  Let’s cut to the chase here. We are talking class. The statisticians don’t talk about class. They talk about “areas of high deprivation” or “lower socioeconomic sectors”. Whatever way you dress it up as, the “look” and “sound” of a group of UWS students is closely linked to the fact that a large percentage of them come from the sort of places that most of the middle class worthies who run Scottish Education  only see through  smoke-tinted windscreens. Many of my students are the first person in their family to take up Higher Education. Many of them are single parents. Many of them have full time jobs in very low paid areas. Many of them subsist on bursaries, grants,handouts  and overdrafts.  Over 35% of our Performance Students have special educational needs which are fully supported by our fantastic team at UWS Ayr. I wonder what the equivalent  figure is in St. Andrews? I don’t have that figure to hand, but today, thanks to the NUS Scotland, I DO have a figure which has made me proud to work at UWS, and proud to teach my students. More of that later.

The New NSS Survey is out?  Oh……great.  :..(

Creative Hack Day in The Control Room

When you work at UWS, the release of National Statistics is rarely a pleasant experience. With teeth-grinding regularity, I see the National Student Survey  “Performance Charts” which put Oxford , St Andrews and Cambridge at the top, and UWS somewhere…well…. let’s say a wee bit further down than Edinburgh.

Never mind that my students are taught in the most modern Creative Industries University in Britain.Never mind that all the hard work, toil, time, effort and downright passion that  my colleagues and I put in to our students learning experience  comes to nothing. My UWS students aren’t even included in the National Student Survey. Astonishingly, unbelievably,  incredibly, as direct entry third year “top up” students, they don’t even get ASKED what they think of their education. Why? Because  the entire NSS system is geared to assessing the thoughts of  18 year olds with A Levels  who are  studying   three year degrees. None of my students, not a single ONE of them, adheres to that biased,  Southern, middle class model. Many of my students don’t even have Highers. They left school at 16, maybe took a year out to work , or signed on. Some of them have been Fire Officers, Estate Agents,full time mothers, even a magician! Whatever their past, at some point,at some time,  they  took an access course, went to a local FE college, and achieved an HNC or an HND in Performance and Acting. They did this  in circumstances which were a million miles away from the creme de la creme of the education world who are  recruited by the “elites” .   This large group of Articulation students is completely ignored by the NSS.  Institutions like UWS  takes  large numbers of  these  students .  We   cajole them,  teache them, argue with them,  are frustrated and infuriated by them, but  finally we arm them with an honours degree , self respect,  and a practical tool kit to go out into the world and make a career for themselves. And yet my colleagues, students and I  have to watch as their progress is completely marginalised as the NSS  statistics  “prove” how wonderful the “elite” universities are, and how low down we are .

League Table Shmeague Table.

As we all know, the  true situation at the chalk face is far more  complex than any crass league tables can ever reflect. For example,  I am bursting with pride at my two Honours students who achieved First Class degrees this year. They could walk into post-graduate studies of any elite institution in the country if they so wished. However I am just as proud of  my other students who have emerged  from challenging circumstances and learned advanced criticality, reflection and transferrable soft and hard skills which will help them gain employment or create their own jobs and careers. They want  to ensure that their children don’t get the same free meals that they did, and I am proud to be part of that process. Indeed I  am literally  part of that process, because I too was  the possessor of a dreaded free  “white dinner ticket” while at school. But none of this is reflected in the cursed tables I see published in the papers every year. And do you know what? I’m past caring…..well…until today……because…..we made it to the top of a table today, and suddenly , I think they are a GREAT idea….so….

Our HD Television Studio at UWS Ayr.

Hallelujah.

Hallelujah! Let joy be unconfined!  Let the church bells ring and let laughter and mirth spread through the land! At last, some statistics are published which finally reflect the pride I feel in my institution, and which justify the passion and energy which my colleagues and I  put into our work here. UWS has come out ON TOP in a statistical survey! I will repeat that.  University Of The West Of Scotland  has come out ON TOP! We are the  top recruiter of students scoring highest using  the criteria of  the Scottish Index Of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)

According to a recent study commissioned by NUS Scotland,  UWS recruits a greater percentage of students from “deprived areas” than any other university in Scotland. Of course needless to say, this was not presented as a positive story. Did I pick up my Herald yesterday and luxuriate in the headline  trumpeting “UWS Triumphs In Campaign For Open Access” ? Errr….No. Instead these figures were described as  “Elite Universities Fail To Recruit Poorer Pupils.” ‘Twas ever thus.

Nevertheless, it IS a positive story for us at UWS! Last year we  recruited 1,117 students from the lowest SIMD sector. To give this a bit of context,  St Andrews, (which I believe is thought of as one of the elite ) , managed to  recruit……..wait for the drumroll……..a grand total of ….13.   Maybe we should call them the St. Andrews 13. Maybe they were all from the same Rugby League  team? Whoever they are, I really  do wish them well, because they must be 13 of the most outstanding students in the country. However  it  means that while 2.7% of St Andrews students might have got free school meals or had an unemployed parent, the UWS figure is 25.4%.

Not only that, but  the elite universities (what a wonderful term that is ) are actually recruiting less disadvantaged students  than they did 10 years ago. This means that these  august  educational institutions , whose senior common rooms no doubt glow with statisfaction at their domination of the NSS statistics, are getting  less and less  successful in helping the poorest attempt to break out of a cycle of deprivation and poverty than before.

The Blame Game? 

Let’s make one point crystal clear here. I don’t blame the elite unis for this. As Alistair Sim, director of Universities Scotland states in the Herald  of  June 4th 2012

“To deliver significant change in universities, you first need to tackle the root of the problem, which is the large gap in attainment according to deprivation in schools, as recent reports have confirmed,”

I’ll say!

Coupled with this, I also don’t blame the elite for wanting to recruit the best students. If I got the chance to recruit a fantastic actress who had gone to Swiss finishing school and had an International Baccalauréat ,  I would do it in a flash. But I live in the real world too. I am competing against other institutions which are deemed “elite” and superior to mine. I know that because I see it in the League Tables, so it must be true, musn’t it?

Prolier Than Thou?

Of course, The solution to these societal inequalities, as Alistair Sim points out,  lies  not in the University sector  at all. Universities are the symptom of the disease, not the cause.  It is  in the schools and pre-school system that this canker of inequality is nurtured.  The fact that elite schools dominate the intake  of elite universities  is clearly symptomatic of the effect of pouring massive subsidy and resources into the education of the 7% of British Children who attend  “independent” schools. Thus inequality is structurally inevitable if we are to continue to give parents the “freedom” to buy their children’s superior school education. Even the proposed imposition of quotas, through  which the Government plans to force Universities  to take more disadvantaged students (and which the “elite”  will inevitably rail against) , are  naught but a  tiny sticking plaster  on what is  a far , far   deeper  inequality wound in contemporary Scottish society.

The Way Forward.

If we Scots decide that we want to build a fairer society (and the evidence of election after election in Scotland is that we do ) ,  then the  only way to redress our  massive societal inequalities is through investment in education and training at the pre-school, school, FE and HE level. At UWS, we  can only do what we can do, and  I am proud to be part of an HE institution which is clearly and  demonstrably doing more to enable open  access to HE than any other University in Scotland.

Graduation Day At UWS Ayr

So let’s hear it for UWS, our students, and especially for Wullie the ticket inspector from Ayr whose town has a University which is top of the performance charts in at least one crucial area.

If you want more information on the sort of work our Articulation students do in Ayr, please have a look at the Video below. It was created, written, acted and edited by  my third years last term. These students came  straight from an HND at FE College, and have  no current voice in the National Student Survey. Let their words speak for themselves.  Contemporary Screen Acting At University Of The West Of Scotland.


Film One- Andrew Pettie

I’m Andrew Pettie, a 3rd year Film-making student looking to find actors for a 15 minute short film that will be shot in Ayr over 3-4 days sometime between the 10th and 19th of April hopefully.

It’s a story about despair, love, and hope. A young man and woman meet in difficult circumstances. Both have forgotten how to live and it is through each other that they learn how to once again. As their friendship blossoms the question is whether they can admit their true feelings, or will their fears keep them apart. In terms of tone if I had to compare it to other films out there I’d say Beginners, Garden State, and 500 Days of Summer.

At every stage I have been aiming this film at the festival circuit and I hope to showcase this to a wide audience. I think this film offers a really good opportunity not just for showreel material but for anyone looking to challenge themselves with a meaningful and deep role.

The parts I am looking to fill are:
REECE – Early 20s, lead male.
IONA – Early 20s, lead female.
DR MULVEY – 30s onwards, could be a part for either sex.

I am not absolutely set on the ages of the leads. If two people came forward who I really felt worked, I could rework the script. Ideally I would like to audition for the parts very soon. I will try to organise a date as I hear when people are available.

If anyone would like to know more about the film, or to see a rough draft of the script, please do not hesitate to send me a message on Facebook or email me at B00199327@studentmail.uws.ac.uk

Film Two- Martin Jelonek
I’m a 3rd Year FMSW student who’s making his short film these coming weeks and I am still looking for actors! As this is about to be my last film project for uni before buggering back home to Germany, I intend to make this my best film yet with the best equipment the uni and I have to offer and will likewise launch it on as many prestigious and well-known film festivals as possible.

WHAT: “9 Minutes” is about a YOUNG MAN’s wait for his GIRLfriend’s pregnancy test in a shopping mall food court. Self-centered and still immature at heart, he day-dreams and remembers various past moments in his current relationship to distract himself from the unbearable wait and reflects on himself, only to be disturbed by an ever friendly, concerned and slightly obnoxious foreign waiter. Can nine minutes be enough to man up and assume responsibility for something that might turn into nine fateful months to come? A bittersweet romantic comedy, with little to no dialogue.

ROLES that still need to be filled:

– GIRL: around 20, female lead
– GUARDIAN: female, 30’s to 50’s

(other roles already taken:
– YOUNG MAN: mid 20’s, male lead (taken)
– WAITER: male, mid 20’s, colored, thick accent (taken)
– BOY: male, 6 to 10 (taken))

WHERE:
– Kyle Center, Ayr
– Ayr Beach
– Playground next to Pirate Pete’s, Ayr
– Flat in Ayr

WHEN:
a) 1 day THIS WEEK between TUES 3rd and FRI 6th, 8:30 am to midday (only for GUARDIAN)
b) 3-4 days in the week between MON 16th and SUN 22nd

CONTACT (for script, questions etc.):
mobile: 07514 806 867
email: mcj87@gmx.net

NOTE: Since it’s a no/low budget production, there is no extra payment. Catering will be provided though and if necessary travel expenses (receipts only).

Hope to hear from you and looking forward to work with you!

Martin

P.S.: for samples of my work, feel free to visit the channel of our circle of FMSW fellow students “LOKI”: http://www.youtube.com/user/LokiFilm/videos

Loki’s Mischief
http://www.youtube.com
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In Field of Dreams Kevin Costener’s character is told by an invisible voice  ” If you build it , he will come” .

So this guy,  who everyone else thinks is crazy,   builds a baseball stadium in the middle of his corn field, and sure enough, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago White Sox team of 1919 emerge out of the corn to play a game of baseball. That same blind  trust in providing the facilities for an as yet unplanned gig  is  shown by the ghost of  Jim Morrison in Wayne’s World 2 where he advises Wayne that Aerosmith  will show up for Waynstock , if only he has the courage to  book them.

Well, that’s all fine and dandy for Hollywood dreamland, but what’s it like in real life when you announce  an open creative  space at a certain time and place hope that someone decides to show up and fill it?

That’s where we were five  weeks ago at the University Of The West Of Scotland‘s £80 million pound campus in Ayr when we announced that every Wednesday  there would be a “hack day ” in our new TV Studio  where students could come along and just  “create stuff”. For what it’s worth, the new studio is light years ahead of our old facilities on the Cragie Campus and we are searching for new ways of using these fantastic facilities. The new campus requires a new imaginitive mindset, so  hence the “hack day” initiaitive. The point is, would it work?

The first week, six students turned up, all of them actors on our Contemporary Screen Acting Programme. So far so good, but there is a limit to what actors can achieve without technical back up. The breakthrough was when my colleague Jane Robertson  realised that we could integrate the process where some students were creating their marked assessments, while others on the production side were voluntarily  helping them to record them. Except we didn’t have any on the production side. So we expanded the invitation, and got the support of our colleagues in other programmes, notably Paul Tucker in Broadcast Production, to advertise  as widely as possible.

The second week , 7   actors turned up, and one brave Broadcast Production student.

The third week, we had MORE actors, and TWO production students.

Now in  the fourth week, we have 4 broadcast students, two film makers, and 15 actors, all of whom (without tutor input) are rehearsing, lighting, recording and editing work for their own individual portfolios.

Anna Kennedy, Mike Murray, Emjay Doherty and  Lizzie Kane in the TV Studios.

I couldn’t be there for the first hour of the process yesterday , and apologised to students in advance. Of course, if I wasn’t there, nothing of any import could possibly happen.

Wrong.

I arrived AN HOUR AND A HALF late  to find groups of students from three different programmes  rehearsing, recording, and generally enjoying the creative atmosphere…ON A VOLUNTARY BASIS! More than this, the students  had started arranging to help each other with technical support and encouragement even outwith the “hack  day ” time slot. I heard one group agreeing to collaborate on the basis of “working from 4pm  till 8pm  at night.” Have you ever tried to get students to stay even half an hour after class at 4 pm? Here they were agreeing to work overtime amongst themselves.

It’s too soon to tell if the euphoria of the first few weeks will continue. No doubt as we get closer to assessment deadlines the numbers may drop off, but for the moment, the experiment has proved a success.

I am hoping that in the future on this blog I will be able to showcase some of the students creative work to show just what the possibilities are for this way of working. In the mean time, hopefully, we’ll build it, and they will continue to  come.

Steven Black and Gareth Malone in the Control Room.

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