NextGen Pilot: Late Registration

HN students watch a practical demo. Photo courtesy of Graeme Ross.

So much to cover I don’t where to begin…how about week three.

We spent the first two weeks online which actually was a nice way to ease everyone back in to coming back into college. A lot of discussion took place between staff around levels of anxiety and worries about student Health and well-being. A decision was taken in the first two weeks to approach the teaching with a “light touch” and not put them on high alert.
Saying that, we did introduce them to Teams and managed to set them three assignments – one on the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator and two on Location and Risk Assessments. The latter being quite dry but very important for their production work. 

We also introduced the learners to the projects they will be doing in the next year. We managed to really sell the idea of project work and the importance of team work for the new NextGen qualification. I think they got it but we’ll see in a few weeks time when the projects start to roll.  

Practical shoot setup for HNC

The assignments they’ve been set so far are not graded. We’re too early into the teaching to start that, but I have identified the students who I think will be the first to hand in work. We usually can tell this every year. I suppose that only tells us that there are quite a few procrastinators in our midst. The grading system will kick in soon but I’ll cover that at a later date.  

The Myers-Briggs test was sold as the jump-start to the Metaskills part of the new qualification. The learners all enjoyed this and felt it was particularly useful and resonated. We also asked them to do it with their friends in order to see whether it landed with them too. It was good to see who the Commanders and Mediators were as this will come in handy during the group work. 

Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator: 16 Types

One exciting aspect of the new course is the project work. Kevin and Alec are being tasked with overseeing the technical part of the qualification and so far, the practical application is working well. The students are also responding to the workshop element and are happy to be outside working with equipment and delivering projects with a tight turnaround.  

The Tuesday lecture slot is also proving popular with learners as they can see other people who are not us and 20 years younger, talk about practice and their own journey in Film & TV. Hearing voices like their own is probably more important than listening to someone harp on about a Multi-million pound production. That sometimes feels like the equivalent of dancing to Architecture!!!

– Alan Moffat, Film & Television Lecturer.

HNC’s learn slating for a shoot.

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NCL Film & Television pilots Next Generation HN Qualification

NCL Film&TV students on location, filming for the National Theatre of Scotland.

In early 2020, the Film & TV department put in an application to be part of the NextGen pilot for the HN qualification in TV Production. 

The NextGen qualifications have been described as the most radical overhaul of qualifications in Scotland in a hundred years!!! For television, it represents a move away from the one and two credit model to a more project defined learner experience.

There are now two Production and Technical units that make up the Group award, both of which are worth five credits each. The SQA Quality Development Team were responsible for gathering feedback from industry and their findings led them to the conclusion that the HNC had to move away from a “quantity” based model towards a “quality” based model. Simply put, the students will be assessed less, and the focus will be on the projects they work on and produce.

For the first time, they will also be assessed on their MetaSkills (self-management, social intelligence and innovation) through the work they undertake as an individual, how they contribute to the team, and how they can reflect on their practice and their own development as they progress through the HNC.

Thirteen years ago we took the decision as a department to move away from collecting student evidence through traditional paper-based methods by adopting the Mahara e-portfolio. Our endeavours were rewarded by a 2011 JISC award for Innovation in learning and teaching and we became sector leading in this area.

Last week, we took the decision to move away from Mahara in order to make full use of Microsoft Teams, which has shown its value as a resource over the last eighteen months. This will see us deliver learning and teaching as well as assessing all student work in one virtual space. Demonstrating the department’s agility and willingness to embrace new platforms in the pursuit of excellence.

“This is an exciting time to be involved as a NextGen pilot centre. We have overhauled our curriculum delivery in an attempt to make it much more student-centred and outcome driven. Students will be assessed on the projects they deliver on, the ability to contextualise their research and the quality of their reflective practice. All the time having serious fun!!!”

Alan Moffat: Film & TV Lecturer


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During the pandemic, the Film & TV department, like so many other departments, went online. Although there were huge challenges to overcome, one of the areas that benefitted was our guest speaker slot…there were suddenly a lot of people with a lot of time on their hands!!!

In August 2020, Kim Beveridge and executive producer, Sarah Harkins, put together a guest speaker programme aimed at students looking at gaining a foothold in an industry that has issues with wider participation. This became the kernel of the Action! Project.
As we deliver the FA programme, Skills Development Scotland were interested in our approach to the guest speaker slot and we managed to secure some funding to develop the project.

Being in such close proximity to Wardpark where Outlander is based presented an opportunity to build links with the production and mitigate against the fact that students cannot apply for traineeships. The department put together a funding application which listed three aims and a series of outcomes.  

ACTION Project Promotional Graphics courtesy of department lecturer Alec Cheer.
  • To consolidate and develop the links we have made with the Outlander training programme in order to provide an insight into the Film & TV industry, with a view to establishing a pathway to future collaborations and work placements. 
  • To involve a wide inter-disciplinary range of students in the production of high quality video content, produced in collaboration with the Outlander training programme, to enhance their learning experience. 
  • To produce a range of high quality learning materials which will not only benefit the students involved in the production process, but also a wide range of future students. 

At the end of May Action! secured a production base and employed a production assistant, former HND Alumni Hannah Love, to oversee the project.In June, Action! shot its first video with Lauren Lambie and student Sean Gray and as we come into the new Academic Year, the project will move into its next phase. 

By creating a series of production videos, the aim will be to capture various roles and experiences with the focus very much being on the students. These videos will include exploring production roles, capturing the trainee experience and gathering student feedback on their own experience during the process. there will also be accompanying student resource packs aimed at the Foundation Apprenticeship students.

“Partnership and collaboration lie at the core of the creative industries and the student experience within NCLFILMTV is modelling this moving forward. ACTION! Has been established now and we plan to continue the project as the department’s internal production company.  

This is based on a series of collaborative projects like EXTRACTS, a partnership with Brian Ferguson and the acting and performing students from City college. We’re already in talks about how to refine and relaunching the the EXTRACTS project again next semester to showcase the skills and talent of both production and performance students.

The ACTION! Project has been funded by Skills Development Scotland and is operating as a production company run by students, developing skills and teaching material by directly connecting students with film and tv industry professionals.  

The content that Action! will feature will include in-depth interviews with professionals, focusing on processes and best practices within the Scottish Film and TV industry and the variety of roles within the sector and the skills needed to do each job, with diversity and inclusivity at the core.” 

Kim Beveridge, Film & Television Lecturer.

Action! is now up and running and looking for creative partnerships to enhance the student experience. If you’d like more details about the project or have a possible partnership in mind please email:

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NCL Film & TV collaborates with City of Glasgow students on “Extracts” Project

The Film and TV department is excited to be involved in the production of ‘Extracts’, a collaboration with Actor and Lecturer Brian Ferguson and his students at City of Glasgow College.

‘Extracts’ is a series of 10 short scenes, performed by City of Glasgow’s performance students and shot on location in and around Cumbernauld by NCL’s Film and Television students. 

‘The idea for this project initially came about as a way of giving the HND Acting and Performance students at CoGC some kind of Diploma Show at the end of their course.

Normally the Dip show would involve the students performing monologues and duologues in a theatre to a live audience. It seemed unwise to plan for such an event this spring. Filmed scenes made much more sense.  We initially planned to film on our phones and edit them ourselves.

The fantastic NCL film students put paid to that. Now, instead of filming ourselves on handheld iPhones we are collaborating across courses and colleges with the students developing skills, learning about other creative disciplines and creating relationships with their future industry peers.’

Brian Ferguson, Acting and Performance Lecturer, City of Glasgow College 

All HN students were keen to get back out filming as soon as safely possible and have been working as a rotational crew to to capture the performance talent of the acting students as well as bringing their own individual style on vision to each extract they choose to direct and edit. 

‘Extracts’ is a response to the unfortunate situation this year’s students have I’ve found themselves in and their desire to get out and make work together as soon as safely possible. I’ve been continually impressed by all the student’s professionalism and ability to creatively respond to the constraints they’ve had to work within. 

‘Extracts’ will exist as a body of work that will not only showcases all the students’ skills and talents but captures a moment in time where we all had to think outside the box about how to ‘create’ and ‘work’ together.

The form of ‘Extracts’ has been influenced by such films as Clio Barnard’s ‘The Arbor’ and National Theatre of Scotland’s ‘Scenes for Survival’ demonstrating the student’s resilience and their creative ability to turn lemons into lemonade’

– Kim Beveridge, Film & Television Lecturer, New College Lanarkshire

Both departments are planning a shared screening of the 10 ‘Extracts’ and will stream the series online in the next academic year.

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HNC Film Noir Trailer, “One Last Job”

“The short trailer is for a film noir feature about a homeless ex-serviceman that has been offered an opportunity of a lifetime… but with a deadly catch!

I took the role of writing the script, sketching up the story board and directing the shoot; and for some of the shots, I had the opportunity to be behind the camera and shoot some scenes.

The idea That I had in mind was to make this film noir trailer a contemporary piece [set in the present]. I found writing the script for this trailer was quite difficult, as a trailer doesn’t follow the same structure as a normal screenplay script. Ronan Smith, Todd Forrest and I, put together the pitch for the trailer, and once we were happy with it, we moved straight onto discussing locations and who to cast.

I suggested to the group to cast my mother [Liz Ewing] as the ‘kind woman’ in the trailer, as she is an actress. Ronan offered to play our protagonist [the homeless man, John Rose] and Todd also offered to play the role of the ‘Mysterious man’. I also wanted to contribute to the art direction of the trailer; I had made a fake MI5 file, by drawing the logo on the front of the envelope, and also creating the file from scratch: I’d printed off pictures of Ronan and Liz Ewing, and placed them onto the file. I tried to make it look official by highlighting certain words/ sentences and scribbling random numbers and letters across the page etc… we filmed in Glasgow across two days. It was a very successful shoot as we all stuck to our individual jobs and completed it to a very high standard.

The post production process was quite interesting. Todd and I had no experience of editing and so this was a great opportunity to gain the knowledge. Ronan had editing experience and he helped to show us the basics which was very helpful!

I’d found a royalty free music track for the trailer which I thought would go well with our storyline [action/thriller].”

Jasmine Ewing, HNC Film & Television 2019

“I was an actor for the film, which I was reluctant to do, but since there was no dialogue for my character, I just had to look rough, homeless and cold. Which with some make-up and old clothes and Mataeusz’s bag was easy. Out of all of us Jasmine had the most imput of how a shot should be portrayed and I had input on a lot of the camera work. After the film was shot I was doing the editing and sorting out all the clips, which was tough but fun, I learned a lot from this experience. For one I know I am pretty strong in the editing bay and that when I get a lot of footage I have a clear vision of what it should look like, the film didn’t completely come out how I would have liked but it was still awesome and I think one of the better noir’s filmed. I greatly enjoyed my experience and would love to do it again.”

Ronan Smith, HNC Film & Television 2019
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HNC Horror Short “Lorelai”

Short Horror Film “Lorelai”

In the beginning we had few different ideas on what we’d shoot, but in the end we went with my horror idea for the script. We wrote it down, and then, together we came up with a shot list. Dylan and I found the doll on Gumtree, which I bought for 5 quid the next day. Then we split the rest of paperwork between us, and set up a production schedule. We planned on shooting the whole movie at my house.

We shot the movie over three days. Everyone had a turn at every role in the crew. I mostly handled the directing, leaving the shooting to others with explanation of what I’m looking for in the shot.

Mateusz Pandzierski, HNC Film & Television, 2019.

Overall we shot the film for around 3 days at Mateusz` house, he filmed on his own for a day, with his cousin, and we did two days of Foley work. All days of filming were really interesting, we had to set up and get familiar with a lot of different gear, lighting scenes properly was essential to a great looking film, getting levels right is essential to avoid sound distortion and you obviously need good camera work.

Before shooting we had to do some basic but pretty effective Mise En Scene, things like new bed sheets, some books and a guitar made the scene feel much more alive.

I also feel I helped greatly in the editing process. Meeting up with Mateusz and Charlie to get some great Foley sound effects done, editing the whole video down, and adding effects to both video and audio really helped make the film what it was. Without the ridiculous amount of effort we put into editing I don’t think the film would’ve been half as good.

Overall I feel the horror project turned out extremely well and I’m happy with the work we did.

Dylan Lumsden, HNC Film & Television, 2019.

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Hannah Love: HNC Short Film, Lamia

My story and overall idea I think is a strength in my project. I managed to create a good idea for horror that is based around trauma. Using real life issues like trauma, eating disorders and abuse gave my story real life horror that people can relate to. The creature concept for Lamia was something I spent time researching so that the creature under the bed would fit with the story and would be a child eating monster. Creatively I think overall it was a good idea that would grab people’s attention.

Another strength would be the makeup look I created for Lamia, making the nails and face was something I really enjoyed, and it has now made me want to do more SFX looks and gain some skills in make-up. Peoples reaction to the look has been very positive and has pushed me towards trying out other looks.

Hannah Love, HNC Film & Television, 2018.

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Greg Coyle: HND Short Documentary

Greg Coyle’s short documentary “Dechmont”

I was going to make my documentary about the accessibility of Veganism in 2020. The doc would have included interviews from people working within the vegan food and grocery industry as well as hopefully some activists but none of the activists got back to me and all the grocers cancelled because of lockdown restrictions and rightfully so. This sent me into an intrapersonal tailspin and I almost dropped out of college. I was of the opinion that I wasn’t good enough to be here and since I was robbed of the chance to make my short film for HNC by COVID 19 I had decided that if this doc thing didn’t go well then I’d drop out because I wasn’t meant to be here.

As quite an extreme response to this I decided to go with the idea of doing a UFO abduction documentary, I didn’t know of any famous cases in Scotland but I went and asked to talk to people online about interviewing them and filming re-enactments of their stories in an exaggerated True Crime show style, a genre I have a lot of affection for, even though I know it’s trash. The research I did looking for these people led me to the story of the Dechmont Woods Incident which I felt was famous enough and good enough for me to just make the whole short documentary about the incident and Robert Taylor experienced. I found a Paranormal Investigator who wrote a book on the incident and was willing to be interviewed, but it had to be over Skype. I did that interview, and although he was nuttier than a squirrel’s favourite pie, perfect for a documentary I didn’t feel the interview was good enough to be used in the doc since we couldn’t cut to him, he did however agree to do a voice over. A week later he pulled out and I was distraught again, I felt nothing could go right.

Given the context of where you are reading this, you know it’s for the college, you know I did my Recces and my Risk Assessments, I would much rather talk about what it was like to have to film and produce content in this current environment. It was hard. Going through a rough time inside of myself at the time and dealing with an extreme bout of self loathing and an obsessive compulsive relapse which were all brought on by lockdown, too much time alone and too much time stuck in a particularly hectic household made being confidently creative difficult as well as having to remember to stick to PPE and lockdown restrictions which I took very seriously.

I felt I needed this documentary to be made before lockdown said we couldn’t be out filming and I wanted it finished before the original deadline to prove that the deadline being extended didn’t save me from a late hand in. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. Filming wasn’t hard, once we were out there it was great! (there being a Carluke that we used as a dummy Dechmont and we being Kieran, Jasmine two classmates who are better than me and I couldn’t have done this without them and Todd, a fellow classmate who was playing Robert Taylor and was terrific) I remembered how fun filming could be which I had definitely forgotten.

Stylistically I wanted the re-enactments to look more like a horror film than anything else however I did take a ton of influence from the very first episode of the X-Files with the lights in the woods sort of thing. Especially when the light shines on his face. I wanted to use POV and shaky cam at parts because I wanted this to be fun and I didn’t think anyone else’s doc would have a good excuse to experiment with different techniques like mine. I’m pretty pleased with how it looks, I hate how it sounds. The voice over was done by another classmate, Dylan who also helped me with those great sliding close ups over the documents, he did a good job with the VO and got what I was trying to do, make people laugh, although I love a True Crime doc everyone knows it’s a TV rustler’s burger of a genre

So I wanted to lean heavily on the tropes with dramatic stings and a patronising over the top narrator. That being said, if I could go back the narration would be something I would certainly change, it is also a regret of mine that I couldn’t get interviews, not for lack of trying. It goes without saying, but I’m obsessed with Twin Peaks so I did really want to use the word “Incident” and instead swap it out for the word “mystery” as I felt that was a lot more on the side that, this is a story and we won’t ever really know what happened to Rob and I also love a mystery in the woods.

It’s not the best but I’m happy with it and I think I proved to myself that I can make something fun and hopefully funny, this doc kept me in this course and I wasn’t even graded on it.

Greg Coyle, HND Film & Television

Greg’s reflection on making Dechmont clearly illustrates many of the serious hurdles our students have faced in regard to producing content over this unprecedented period, battling practical considerations and having to navigate their own emotional rollercoaster at the same time.

As a creative response to the documentary brief when his original plan went down, the idea to film an UFO Abduction documentary with an acted narrative was an inspired choice and one which enabled him to use his scriptwriting talents and continue to make work despite restrictions.

In this sense Dechmont is an important film for him this year and one which enabled him to keep going with his studies through a very difficult time.

Michael Grant, Film & Television Lecturer

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Let’s all go to Dollywood

Firstly, ‘Happy Mothers Day’ to all the mothers reading this! If you’re not a mother, then Happy Mother’s Day to your mother/granny/guardian or any female mentors in your life. 

Last Monday was International Women’s Day and what a week it has been!  The tragic death of Sarah Everard sparked women across the U.K to speak out publicly about their experiences of being harassed and feeling unsafe in public spaces. However, this week also saw images of police forcefully arresting women near to where Sarah was last seen. Four people were arrested in total during a vigil to “protect people’s safety”.


In the department this week we’ve been political (with a small ‘p’) by increasing the visibility of our current and ex-female students, along with highlighting the female guest speakers we’ve had over the past academic year and the female filmmakers we cover within our film curriculum. 

Thanks to students Jasmin Ewing and Shannon Findlay for letting us post your videos, along with alumni Chloe Cummins and Maja Engnell, for sharing their past experiences of the course at our Instagram.

Alumni Maja Engnell and Chloe Cummins

Sara Harkins, Executive Producer at BBC Children’s and Training Manager at Outlander Season 6 was one of our first guest speakers last year. She subsequently organised, in her own time, four other guest speakers to join us for a chat, including Outlander Ex Trainee and now Assistant to Showrunner/Executive Producers on Outlander Season 6 – Lauren Lambie.

Guest speakers Lauren Lambie, Virginia Heath and Maureen Hascoet

Virginia Heath inspired us by talking about her hypnotically beautiful film ‘From Scotland With Love” where she dug deep into archive footage and collaborated with Scottish singer-songwriter King Creosote to create stunning music for the film.

Maureen Hascoet, Producer at Firewallker Films and founder of TEDX Cumbernauld Women, shared her time and contacts with us to set the full department up with their London Screenwriter’s Festival passes and explained her own journey as a filmmaker.

I’m not a meme lord by any sense and rarely forward them on but this  Dolly Parton  meme has stayed with me for about a month or so now.  

Recently I  downloaded  her new audiobook,  ‘Songteller’  that plays more as a long form interview with Dolly, interjected with some narration and Dolly’s songs as she describes her process and inspiration for writing each of them.

I’ve always admired Dolly’s approach to life, art and business. She wears her heart on her sleeve and funnels her life experience and emotions through her music. She keeps her personal life private, delivering the character of ‘Dolly’ on stage and in front of the cameras.  She’s a mentor to younger women in the business, a philanthropist and runs multiply charities while still staying true to herself, speaking in her own vernacular and hitting out with witty banter like ‘it takes a-lot of money to look this cheap’. 

I stopped being self-deprecating about 15 years ago. Unlike Dolly, who’s successful and an there for able to make fun of herself, I realised for me it was a waste of time and potentially damaging.

If  you’re a young woman working in an a predominantly male industry, the last thing you should utter is anything that puts yourself down, even if you are feeling insecure in the moment.  Ask for help, but don’t let your ‘inner saboteur’ (#RuPaul #dragrace) leak out via negative mutterings to yourself about your own ability. 

So, I found it interesting why I was so taken with this meme that could be read as ‘I’m so unproductive I think I’m great if I can get it together to send one email’, but that’s not what connected with me. Working from home during Covid has been difficult for everyone for many reasons.  Too many to list here and we’re all experiencing the stress in different ways.  This Dolly meme made me think of what it’s like trying to collaborate creatively with practitioners and students via email and zoom.

It’s always taken me longer just to do the simplest of tasks as opposed to working face to face, where tasks/issues would be relatively easy and fast to resolve. Working face to face allows you to bypass all the misunderstandings that comes with written/ video call communication.  The lack of body language and not being able to see a student’s facial expression to gauge if they do understand the assessment task you’re explaining or just being polite to get off the call.

Emails have always been anxiety inducing for me due to the struggles I’ve had with literacy and spelling. It always takes me longer to draft an email that communicates my thoughts, plans and ideas. Even when I’ve finished, inevitably, there will be the obligatory typo, usually in the form of a rogue vowel or a wrongly chosen word from the dropdown in haste, that knocks the full sentences out of context.  

So, yes, sometimes I do stand back from the computer feeling like a ‘boss lady’ for pressing send on one email that’s taken me hours to write, but I bet I’m not the only person feeling this way these days!! 

In Dolly’s book ‘Songteller’, she tells a very tender and moving story of how her mum made her a coat to wear to school and told wee Dolly her coat was more valuable than a store bought one because it was made from different pieces of fabric taken from clothes belonging to members of her family and sewn together with motherly love. Inevitably the kids at school took the total mick out of wee Dolly and even locked her in the cupboard to really ‘stick the boot in’. #kidscanbecruel.

Dolly was angry, not only at the kids, but at her mum, for lying to her about the coat. She felt betrayed. When she confronted her about this, and her mum explained she was not poor.  They were rich with music, culture, laughter, love and spent time together as a family telling stories to entertain each other on the front porch. Dolly was richer than them all, even back then with her wee patchwork coat of many hand-me-downs. It’s these moments of resilience that shape us for the rest of our lives, fueling the type of tenacity it takes to be a super star like Dolly Parton.

Dolly founded the charity ‘The Imagination Library’ in her father’s honour.  
Robert Lee Parton died in 2000 having struggled with access to a formal education all his life and this was her gift to him. Moreover, Dolly Parton is considered one of the best blue grass guitar players alive who can out-strum the rest, even with a full set of false nails on!  All of the above is what makes her a ‘Boss Woman’! Dolly Parton is just one example of the many inspirational women who work in music, art, film and culture, that continue to inspire and push for change.

Ideally, I’d liked to have rounded up this week of IWD in the department by taking all my female friends, family, ex teachers, colleagues, mentors, students to Dollywood for a fun filled feminist day instead of this Dolly Parton rant! 

This imaginary International Woman’s day trip would be epic.  Riding on the rollercoasters and dodgems, taking about our ideas for a better future and finding strength in being together for the first time, in some cases, in over a year.

The next day everyone else would arrive, sons, fathers, grandads’, husbands and parners who support these amazing women, who are mothers, by being co-parents and childcare providers, making possible for them to be a mother and have a career if they choose to do so.

Finally, my two-day Dollywood trip would culminate with the woman herself joining us on stage to perform for everyone, much like in this footage below from Glastonbury 2014:  

My vision couldn’t happen this year due to Covid travel restriction or the fact it’s a completely ludicrous and ridiculous idea. Well, we can dream can we?  😉 

When Dolly sees disparity or injustice, she puts her money, power and influence where her mouth is to effect real change.  

Rather than point at it, tweet about it or even just write a successful pop song about it, Dolly donates $1 millions of her own money to develop a vaccine and goes on TV and sings ‘Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine’ while being vaccinated.  

Whether you’re an anti-vaxxer or not or even a Dolly Parton fan or not, there’s no doubt about it, Dolly gets it done! 

Unlike Dolly, we don’t have anywhere near the cash, resources, connections or the musical abilities that Dolly has but we can take inspiration from the way she turns her ideas into actions and directly effects change within her own society and culture. This is the type of woman and feminist I’m aspiring to be.

Thanks to everyone in the department this week who helped by creating content, posting on social media and on the department blog, or for just being a general cheerleader from the side!  

-Kim Beveridge, Film & Television Lecturer

Footnote: Dollywood was voted one of the top ten theme parks in the world on trip advisor and is high on my bucket list! 

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In The Picture: Kieran McLaughlin

HND Film & Television student Kieran McLaughlin has already worked on a variety of features, one of which recently had its debut on Prime video. Kieran talks about his film making journey and his hopes for the future as he works toward completing his HND.

When did you take up film making?

My interest in filmmaking began back in 2017 when I went on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Summer School. This was a great introductory course to film theory and the process of making a film from pre-production to distribution. I went on to be a part of the GMAC Film Summer School in 2019 when I directed the film. This was a great opportunity to develop core hard and soft skills whilst furthering my knowledge of the craft.

My journey with GMAC Film continued through the BFI Academy which was an intensive weekly course spanning six months. The course was more in-depth about the theory behind film and the process of developing a script for screen. The Academy concluded with a one-day shoot using a RED cinema camera and a final premiere after the film was edited. For this, I was one of the producers. Both the Summer School and BFI Academy films were screened at the FANS Youth Film Festival in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

I’m still involved with GMAC Film through their Youth Team and the Moving Image Arts course. MIA is an Irish qualification which I currently study. The course explores the classical Hollywood style, Russian montage and Expressionism whilst working towards creating a short film.

Concurrent to the BFI Academy, I studied a HNC in TV Production with NCL. This was an extremely positive year which I look fondly back on as it set me up for making the next steps into the industry. I learned about shooting for different genres, lighting, developing ideas and undertaking bigger projects without a huge cast or crew. Following on from the success of the HNC, I now am at the tail end of the HND. My time has been spent creating content and planning for the future. On the course, I have created a documentary exploring sartorialism, an area of fashion/style which I fit into. Now, I am working on my showreel, editing it together and creating a website. These are very exciting times!

What equipment do you use?

Over the last few months, I have started to invest in equipment that will allow me to shoot more professional content and hopefully start earning for the work I do. After spending a lot of time researching, I settled on the Black Magic Pocket 6K Cinema Camera as this was a good entry level camera that looks professional and will allow me to achieve higher quality work.

To pair with the camera I have invested in some lenses: a Sigma 18-35mm F1.8, a Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 and a modified Helios 44-2 58mm F2. I made the decision to pick up matching zoom lenses, firstly for visual continuity and for the focal length coverage. Having two zooms which cover the main focal ranges that I will need for my work saves time on set, space in storage instead of having to swap between multiple prime lenses and carry them all, and most importantly, money. I decided to pick up a wireless focal puller in the form of the Nucleus Nano.

The goal for my camera rig is portability, efficiency and control. I am able to rig the system up to be paired with a bigger camera crew or keep the system simple for solo shooting. The rig can be set up to go between sticks and handheld with the quick release of the tripod plate. I continue to research, development my knowledge, understanding and skills in the camera department so I can self-shoot and also hold in-depth conversations with any DPs that I work with.

For audio, I use a ZOOM H4N Pro audio recorder paired with a Rode NTG-2 boom microphone. My long term plan would be to own my own cinema camera such as a RED MONSTRO 8K or an ARRI ALEXA as these are professional cameras used on high end productions.

However, despite all this equipment, it is important to note that it is ultimately not as important as the story. Substance over style! I initially started out using the Lumix G7 camera which has helped get me to where I am now, shooting most of my short films and my documentary on it. This demonstrates that you do not need any fancy or expensive equipment to make films.

Tell us a little about “Cavendish” and how that came about?

A Scottish boarding school tucked away in the Highlands. Prefects for house parents. Peers who are more like siblings. High standards of disciple and excellence. Cavendish is everything English newcomer Gracie Bennett needs and nothing she wants, except to play on their football team. Talent got her there but clashing against the new normal may well cost her the season.

Cavendish started as a showreel scene written by actor Maddy Bryce and quickly turned into a YouTube series. What was to be episode three at the time was in pre-production when I was recruited as a colourist and second editor. About a month later, I was promoted to producer for the series just before we began transitioning from YouTube to Prime video. During the transition we merged the first two short instalments into one nineteen minute, re-edited and re-coloured the episode featuring a new intro sequence that we travelled up to Loch Earn to shoot. Cavendish is currently sitting at a nice 55k rating on IMDB out of 7.5 million, which puts us in the top 1% of titles in their database. We are hopefully shooting the next episode in April with the biggest cast and crew yet.

Which Directors or Producers inspire you?

My primary directorial influence would be John Cassavetes. I see parallels in his work exploring class divide, existentialism, love, greed and the human condition with the films that I want to make and the stories I wish to tell. I like his documentary style of shooting which feels organic and fluid; it draws audiences into the story and focuses attention on characters which drive the stories. His versatility between bigger budget and indie filmmaking is something which I aspire to do.

Bong Joon-ho is another big influence. His films tend to cover a wide variety of genres and stories but they are connected through the similar themes such as class divide and good vs evil. His films are character driven too and he often makes social commentary on the world without favouring a particular side. This ambiguity demonstrates that the world is often grey and there can often be no moral high ground. This is something which I hope to explore in my own films.

A big influence in terms of producers would be Jed Mercurio who primarily is involved in British television. His versatility as a writer, director and producer is something which I hope to develop myself. With a basis in drama, he has produced series’ like Line Of Duty, Bodyguard, and the upcoming Bloodlands.

Your course finishes in June this year, have you made any future plans?

Kieran is creating a showreel and portfolio site for his HND Film & Television course.

Firstly, I have been spending a lot of time creating content, thinking about self-promotion and how I can market myself as a freelancer. I aim to set up as a sole trader and try to break into the industry. Over the past few years, I have undertaken various courses which have provided good experience and networking opportunities. I intend to continue this by looking for workshops, apprenticeships, training schemes and by working on my own projects. The intention is to continue developing my skillset in the many facets of filmmaking so I can be versatile, adaptability and widen the opportunities available to me.

Out with looking to make a beginning in the industry, I have reapplied to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Having previously applied, I have been able to take positives away from each application, learn and develop myself and recognise areas for improvement. I have spent the last year focusing on this and hope to be successful in my application this time.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

In five years’ time I hope to be established as a freelancer, making my own content and working as a director and producer in the industry. My aim is to continue building up IMDB credits, growing my business and working on bigger scale productions. In order to get to this stage, I need to continue making a variety of content such as short films, commercial work, and social media content. Amazon Prime is a great platform to get my work out there as well as uploading to YouTube and Vimeo. I also plan on submitting any short films I direct or produce to film festivals as this can be a great way to secure future funding, make money, network and create opportunities.

Kieran McLaughlin Instagram

Watch Kieran’s documentary on Sartorialism and read a little about the background to making it.

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