Tips for Film Students

Tips for Film Students

I’ve chatted with a few media students this month, and ‘m not sure how to feel, I’m either disappointed or confused.. I’m always saddened by people and The Media when they run down Media Studies as a subject. It’s not necessarily a useless subject, and teaches relevant skills. Sadly I think the problem might be some of the students themselves, rather than the course. Maybe they join it hoping for an easy ride, and then spoil it for the genuine ones who actually want to learn?

I spoke to three separate 16-18 year olds this month who were studying film and media studies, and of course this got me very excited! “What’s your YouTube channel name?”, I asked, hoping to see some talented amateur films. “I haven’t got one”, came the rather damp reply.  “Not to worry”, I said maintaining my excitement “What sort of films do you like to make?” “I haven’t really made any yet, I don’t have a good enough camera”, they said, looking expectantly at their parent standing nearby.

Unusually, I bite my lip at this point, and say “Ahh, I see” cheerfully, but subconsciously burying my head in my hands.

This lad clearly wanted to leave school and land a job as James Cameron’s right hand man, and won’t need a camera as a brand new 3D camera will be thrust into his expectant hands.

Job Interviews

Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t work like that – surprisingly, there are hundreds of thousands of other school leavers that also want to land a job directing Johnny Depp too! If you’re not passionate enough to make films with your phone or your mums rubbish camcorder just for the love of it, it’s not going to give a very good impression at any job interview! Any employer will jump at someone that’s passionate about film making, over someone who just wants a cool job. When I was recruiting, I would always go for someone with passion and skills over someone who just had good exam results.

This is why video clubs are SUCH a great idea! If anyone has an idea how we can get this into students’ heads please let us know!

Viral Videos on YouTube

I don’t know if anyone at the club has realised, but I’m quite interested in cats. The film I made a while ago “When Freya met Teego” about a kitten meeting an older cat, has been having an exciting ride this month. I posted it on YouTube fairly soon after releasing it, and it gained a respectable 40,000 views in two years.

Then at the start of this month, I noticed the views were picking up and in a couple of weeks, the number of views had doubled! This was extraordinary – I’d never had a film get more than around 50,000 views before, and at 80,000, this had blown my previous record out of the water!

Front Page of

Then last week, I went out for the day and when I got back I was surprised to see I had over 50 comments in my inbox from that film. This was very unusual, as I only get 1-3 a day at best from all my films! I couldn’t wait to get home to see what had happened. Arriving home, I saw that my film had received about 80,000 views that day! This was really shocking, and I was in quite a daze that evening. After a lot of research and tracing of where the viewers had come from, I finally discovered that my film had been featured on the front page of – one of the top sites on the internet for the sharing of “interesting pages”

This single feature had been worth 110,000 views of my film in 24 hours, and currently that one film has now had over 260,000 views!

Most of my films have had no more than 500 views, but every now and then, you’ll get a lovely surprise! So if you’ve been wavering, why not give it a try – You can’t beat the lovely feeling of a complete stranger from the other side of the world, saying how much they’ve enjoyed your film!

If you’d like any help or advice, please let me know and I’d love to help encourage another fellow YouTuber!

7 Replies to “Tips for Film Students”

  1. Fascinating story Chris. Although I’m a too long in the tooth to take-up professional camera work or production I might well have a go at putting a couple of my films on YouTube.

  2. Must admit, that I did ‘Media Studies’ in high school when I moved down south, mainly because I had a serious mismatch of subjects and could not fill one of the spaces . Felt very strange, as this one was way down on the list of ‘academic’ subjects which I was also taking. That sounds as if it is countering Chris’ opening paragraph, but it’s true.

    Unfortuately, what ‘Media Studies’ actually is varies depending upon where it is being taught and at what level. I also seem to recall that when I did it, there were a 450% overkill of students of Media Studies vs. actual positions in the entire industry. Part of it’s stigma therefore, also comes from the fact that until you get to a certain level it is regarded (even by staff) as a ‘catchers mit’ for people who can’t do other things.

    Coming from the IT community, I often despair at what is being taught vs. what we actually need in the industry. This was nothing however, to some of the differences in attitude which I also saw between academic media / film studies and the film industry. I often go to Raindance courses for example, where students voice all sorts of opinions in the first few sessions, then after a few embarrassments keep quiet, lip sealed for the rest when they start to realise what a gulf there actually is.

  3. Just to follow on to the point Craig made about what is taught vs what actually goes on. When I joined OVFM (or more specifically the B&B shoot) I was expecting to put what I had learned on my film course to good use only to see that little of it actually came up in conversation or in practice.

    Conversely some stuff I learned others in the club don’t know but I suppose there is a vast difference between pointing a camcorder at the scenery on your holiday and “regular” filmmaking (for wanting a better term)…

  4. One of the other points which Chris makes is very true – it’s one I see everywhere, and is also spotted by everyone who matters: industry workers, course tutors and even Raindance plaster it across their website, yet students tend to completely ignore the advice – forget the top of the range camera: just get out and make something.

    Myself, I bought my A65 for both personal work and the fact that I was not a film student (i.e. I did not get preferences), but when you balance the number of high-end Nikon’s available (vilm and still) from UCA stores, it’s a bit disturbing the number of high-end cameras for sale on the internal internet at the end of the student courses.

    It does seem to be that the first thing that many [university] film students do when they get their grant, is go out and buy their own, high end camera when it’s just not needed.

  5. I didn’t put any education on my CV when I left university. Producers weren’t interested in it, it was the practical experience I’d had that was more important.

    my website won’t work in your box –

    1. Thanks for the comment Amy and the link.

      I suggest everyone take a look at Amy’s article “5 important things every film director should know before filming” especially since we have a few first time directors in our midst. Some worthy advice there.

      Oh and have a butcher’s at Amy’s films too! 😉

    2. Hi Amy, I like your ‘Failed Video Blog’. We have several club members who are totally relaxed chatting to the camera…but it is actually a really difficult thing to do, as I have found out!
      However these personal type films are so interesting because you get a more rounded sense of the film maker’s personality.
      Hopefully one day we can get something similar on our site.
      Keep on Video Blogging Amy!

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