RedShark's Maari Innes pays a visit to three universities to find out why they are so important for nurturing talent in the film and VFX industries.
As a 'recent graduate’ thanks to various Covid lockdowns, I had an unique opportunity to write from my personal perspective about education in Film and TV production. What made my journey somewhat interesting, was the fact that I was finishing my degree during the pandemic in 2020. I got to experience what was “the old normal” to what was called '’the new normal’’. So when RedShark were asked to take a deep dive into the UK’s leading Film and TV courses the team turned to me in true “21 Jump Street'' style and sent me off to MetFilm, the National Film and Television School and Bournemouth - the Uni where I graduated with my Masters and home to one of the World's leading VFX courses. Let’s have a look at the behind the scenes of these universities to understand why they are such an important part of the future of Film and TV production.
Current state of the industry
British film and TV production is currently spending a record number when it comes to films and TV production. The total number of the companies in the industry peaked as high as 15,500 in 2021. Many of the biggest production companies are investing more resources in the UK than ever before. Amazon Studios decided to locate their production of The Lord of the Rings from New Zealand to Maidenhead, Netflix doubled the size of its base at Shepperton Studios and Disney has its large-scale deal at Pinewood Studios. What does these large investments mean for the British film and TV industry and what career opportunities do tomorrow’s professionals have today?
Last year there were 209 films in production. As a reference, this was 75 more than the previous year (even with the “Covid caveat” that’s a huge leap). When it comes to international films, British film directors have a great reputation. Some of the best-known directors behind following films such as the Harry Potter series directed by David Yates (National Film and Television alumni!) and Tenet directed by Christopher Nolan. The skills and the state-of-the-art studios and facilities play an important part when it comes to showcasing the British creative abilities across the globe.
To showcase our talents, the rise of streaming has soared the demand for high-quality content more than ever. The direct spending on UK screen production has increased by 74% to £13.86bn just between 2017-19. Since the big streaming companies are more than willing to spend their money on these large productions, content today is an arms race between some of the biggest companies in the world (Amazon, Apple, Disney and Netflix) but to keep this investment coming, the UK production industry needs to tap into a new pool of talent from Universities. This is now very much a global talent contest.
When it comes to talent, what has always been distinctive for The Film and TV industry is the cutting edge of technological innovation. That is an undeniable fact and mixed with the craft, skill and art that goes into the creative side it’s probably why you, Dear RedShark reader, care so much about how these technologies are evolving. Technology offers new ways for people to work in the industry from the high-end all the way down to local productions. Since the industry is willing to spend a record number of £5.64bn on film and high-end television production, what they are missing right now is simply the people talented enough to fill these roles. This offers a massive opportunity for people wanting a career in Film and TV. In order to cover the current demand, future creative professionals need to have the experience to work with the equipment to show their skills in the industry. In other words, it is all about providing these universities the right tools to bridge the gap between education and industry.
The role of education in the creative industries
Global demand from streaming companies for British-made shows is reshaping not only the UK Film and TV industry as a whole but also the role of education in the industry. Universities across the UK are expanding their courses to help to meet the growing demand. This is a great opportunity for these schools to offer popular and industry-standard courses that can demonstrate a high degree of real world relevance. In return, students get to learn invaluable and practical skills that make them highly desirable for the industry that is in such a lookout for new and highly motivated talents.
For this to happen, they need the right equipment in place. Kit that is industry-standard and delivers to the top end of current formats and resolutions. Like any investment, these film schools and universities need to make sure that the equipment they are investing in is cost-effective and scalable. Especially in an industry that is heavily reliant on the latest technology, they need to know that the products are actually being used in the industry so they need to be upgradable. These schools do not run with big budgets, so making sure that their equipment is following the industry-standards - yet affordable - is truly the key factor for them.
Since the industry is constantly evolving due to new and improved technology, the challenge is to find the right kind of equipment that is suitable for educational purposes. Having a robust, scalable, and cost-effective image technology that enables their students to learn to use the latest technology to have the necessary skills to enter the industry. Most of all, giving the students the freedom to create their own, gives them the confidence and motivation they need in the start of their career. Speaking as a former student, you really learn by doing and having the opportunity to learn by using the industry-standard equipment is the key to do so.
By doing this, RedShark went back to School together with ASUS ProArt. We equipped three of the most well-known industry universities from the UK: MetFilm School, Bournemouth University and National Film and Television School with ASUS ProArt products. Since these schools are known for their graduates and their remarkable work in the industry, we wanted to hear from the graduates themselves what they thought of the equipment as part of their route to becoming a creative professionals. Comments like “woow, it is really bright” and “the blacks are really well kept” really says it all. They are truly taken by what technology can do nowadays and how it can help them to take their work to the next level.
The wide range of practical opportunities the modern technology offers these days to students makes me almost want to actually go back to school - again. Take a look at yourself!