National Film School - First Impressions

As most of you know (if you have been following this blog) I was accepted in to the Film & TV Production course at the National Film School in August. And since September I've been living and breathing film in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

Starting the course was an exciting experience and well, rather daunting to be honest! I knew for a course with such a high demand on the standard of its students, it would be filled with the brightest and most creative minds Ireland had to offer. And it's true. I've never seen so much talent squashed into one room. At first I was nervous about this, perhaps thinking that I would constantly have to compete with them. Quite the opposite actually.  Almost immediately, the others and I could be seen working together as a team. Offering a helping hand, constructive criticism and the likes on each other's personal and college projects.

When reps of the college told me how "hands on" the course is, they weren't kidding! In the second week we had already written, shot and edited a number of very short films! Talk about throwing us in the deep end. But hey, that's how you learn to swim isn't it? Yep. I think so anyways.

As a first year film student I have a number of different classes to attend. It's pretty full on! Five days a week with lessons in screenwriting, production, technical workshops, photography and visual culture with philosophy. What I love the most is that the lecturers for these subjects are all past/current industry professionals. So I'm learning from film-makers and writers who have actually had hands-on experience in the industry and who know all the ins and outs that you can't learn from any book.

My "directorial debut" within the college was with a short film called "On the Cat." My classmates and I were given different briefs to follow in order to challenge our creativity. Mine was: "a short dialogue scene. 'Keep it Under Wraps'" So in my randomness, I came up with this...

If you asked me how, I wouldn't be able to tell you. But there it is. Suppose it reflects a bit on student life.

Anyways, it was shot entirely in three hours. Tough enough! Fortunately I had a great crew with me. The prep leading up to it was long and tedious. But it all paid off when I finally got to that "magic moment" when the camera rolled for the first shot. Everything just fell into place. It was also a nice change for me to do something and solely concentrate on the directing. Usually, I'd be more occupied with the camera and the lighting etc., then wouldn't give the actors enough attention. But this was different. And I think it stands out in the final product.

Very recently we've been working in the TV studio getting an insight into Broadcast Production.  Hands on experience in a real TV studio kitted out with everything a Live Show needs to make it to the box in your cosy living rooms. I even got to direct my very own live show. Honestly, I've never felt so much pressure until that red light hits. Making snap decisions on the spot and barking orders through the walkies to the camera ops and floor manager. I've never felt so rewarded than when I play back that tape and it looks... well, grand. I'll get around to slapping it online soon!

The next big college project coming up is something I'm bursting with excitement for. A short film titled "You Are What You Eat." Written & Directed by Hugh Mulhern. I gained the role as Director of Photography during its early stages. The film is set in a world where pigs have evolved to human intelligence, controversy then sparks over the ongoing argument; "Meat is Murder." It's a really cool concept and I'm very glad to be a part of it. But most exciting of all (for me) is that I am shooting it on Super 16mm Film. A first for me. And a very scary thought with so much more added pressure than shooting digital. Especially when I am limited to 10 minutes of reel for a 3 minute short film. But with this responsibility lies extensive preparation. Every shot you will see in the final product will have been thoroughly thought out and carefully crafted by myself and the Director. But hey, I like a challenge! I even get a 1st Assistant Cameraman, Clapper Loader and Gaffer to boss about... just kidding lads.

First Impression? Love it. I have definitely made the right choice coming here.

So there you have it. Cool and exciting things going down here at the NFS. Of course there's much more happening than what I have touched on in this post, but in fear of making it too long and bulky, I've only mentioned the big'ns! You can always get in contact if you'd like to hear more.

But until then,