One of the scariest things about a hands-on degree is knowing that the minute you begin is the minute you join that industry. You're a baby; blind, led by the unfamiliar hands of your lecturers, and every step you take, every corner you turn is into the unknown.
When I began my Film and Television Production degree at York St John University in September 2011, that was something that was drilled into us in every early lecture - "You're in the industry now, your career starts now". For most people doing a degree, it is a mode of progression into adulthood, it is building a social life and living an independent lifestyle free from parental regime and curfews; for me, it's the next step in my career. I listened in those early lectures because I wanted to make the best I could out of what I had and starting in that mindset has forced me to learn in a way I've never experienced before.
Our first project was to construct a three-minute documentary from, roughly, a six hour shooting day. There were four of us in our group acting as producer, director, camera operator and sound operator. The intention of the documentary was to introduce the viewer to Darren Kelly- first coach to York City Football Club and a valued member of the York in the Community team. Pre-production and the shooting day itself were both very relaxed and organized; however when we reviewed our footage, we were faced with forty five minutes of blank playback. The situation was that the camera we were given had an internal error that prevented any footage or sound from being properly recorded. Due to assignment limitations, we couldn't re-record the interview, but had enough time to take some basic shots of the stadium. Our lecturers encouraged us to produce a short montage, which could be shown with the other documentaries during our screening lecture less than a week later.
From our perspective, a montage wouldn't be a representative example of the effort and time we'd put into our work. Thinking back to our early lectures, we decided that if we were indeed at the dawn of our careers now, then we weren't about to start taking short cuts. We spent late nights in the Edit Lab creating a very brief, sound orientated documentary, which would promote the build of a new Community stadium in York. After showing the completed video to the Head of Documentary, we were praised for our mature outlook, handling of the situation and quality of what we had produced from so little footage.
Based on this experience, the advice I would give to people taking practical degrees is this; don't panic when things go wrong. It is almost guaranteed that something will go wrong at some point during your course, but if you handle it with a calm temperament and remove any negative emotion, you can still produce something that is worth all the effort you put into it, and impress your lecturers as an additional bonus. If you can master this skill early, you will be much better prepared for the curve-balls that the working world will throw you.