Film; how do you perceive it? By guest blogger – Victoria Longhurst

As I come to the end of my second year at university, I was appalled to find a BBC report on how pupils in England, specifically in comprehensive schools, are supposedly being mis-sold soft A-level subjects such as film studies.

As someone who is studying media, with film studies being incorporated, I was thoroughly annoyed. I know there is a run of the mill stereotype suggesting it’s an easy subject, but this simply isn’t true. There is a stupendous amount of theory work, and learning the ‘who’s’ and ‘why’s’ behind each theory and what the theories represent.

Sure, anyone can sit down, watch a movie and give their interpretation of what they’ve seen, but can they say what devices were used and for what purpose? Can they analyse and understand what the purpose of the film is? Do they realise that the colours and props themselves add another layer of meaning onto the film? Do they even realise how much work goes into the pre-production, then the production itself and then the post-production, just to give the film a shot at success?

Even I was a little sceptical when I first took it at college; some of the things we learned seemed to be common sense. What I’d suggest to those people is to try and make their own film. Sure it sounds easy enough, but the differences between a quality film isn’t equipment or the budget, it’s the quality of editing, the strength of the story and fitting it into a time restraint and not just trying to get it done all in one go.

International Film Race

Even after 4 years of studying film, I knew how much work went in to making a film, but I had never experienced it so I could never fully appreciate the work load. That’s why, when I heard there was an international Film Race, which my friend was taking part in, I asked if I could participate too.

A week before the film race, the entire crew met up to make a short film to give everyone an idea of what it would be like. We spent 10 hours on our feet to make a 3 minute film in one location. We then had to go over and sign contracts and discuss possible story ideas, even though this was useless, as the point of the film race was to give us 24 hours to write the script, film and edit and then put the sound and the music to the film and submit it, as well as being given a prop, action and theme to incorporate into the story on the day. And we had to start writing the script at 3am on the day of the film race as it was based in America.

So at 3am, I and the other writers all gathered at the director’s house to await the prop action and theme. Once we had these, we started to discuss our ideas and ideas of how to incorporate them. It took us until 7am, when the rest of the crew arrived when we had finally written up the script. As soon as everyone had arrived, we gathered all the equipment and props that we could fit into the cars and headed out to start filming.

We used a car park and all the houses belonging to the crew in order to have enough places to film, as well as having to follow procedure by filling out talent and location forms. We filmed from 8am until 8pm straight through apart from a half hour break for lunch. My feet were killing, but the week after when we had the preview, it was amazing. It couldn’t have turned out any better and I really gained perspective on how much work goes in behind the scenes, and the editing process took from 8pm until 2.30am, half hour before the deadline.

The next person who says studying film and media is easy, I think we should sign them up for a film race and see how they cope, then ask them if it was really as easy as they first thought. So, surely, if a film study is so easy, every student would be getting very high marks. Right now, over my past 2 years of study, I’m averaged at a 2:2, and I’m hoping to do a master’s which means I have to get at least a 2:1 so I have my work cut out for me.

My film

On another note, here is the film I helped write, appeared in and was the second camera assistant (which involves paperwork to differentiate between the useable and unusable scenes, and filling out and using the clapper board).

Another useful article on Film Studies from the Guardian –

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/jul/08/film-studies-degree