When you want to get your profile started, new material for your showreel, help a mate on their project or have been out for a while and feeling rusty, student films can be a great place to gain what you need.
Also, be aware that they are students, so it’s quite possible, you may know more than they do on a shoot. On my 1st student film, the other actor in the scene ended up joining the production to ‘help’. I’m not sure how grateful they were. I tend to not get involved unless it’s absolutely necessary and better when I am asked, rather than just jump in or volunteer. As the point is for them to learn in practise, if I do it for them, then they lose out on that valuable learning tool – mistakes. I will jump in, if I’ve agreed a time to leave and I need to go, so I will remind them that if they still want me to do scene X, Y or Z, then that needs to be done before I go, as I am not usually able to hang around longer, nor do I often wish to.
The end results have been mixed, but I’ve been grateful for the showreel material which has got me agents and work. I’m now in the position to do student films, it’s more a case of being pick and choose, for example, if I am looking for a particular role which I want to get a sample of, then I will apply, otherwise, I do not do them. I might consider them, if I am approach, as I am always flattered, that someone has taken the time to seek me out.
Be careful, student films can be a bit of rabbit hole and you end up putting your energy into projects which don’t pay and your may spend a lot of time chasing said students for that elusive ‘copy’ they promised.
In general, I’ve usually got my promised copies, but 1 I was completed edited out – it can happened at any level of the business! I have found working with master students, they tend to be more reliable or if it’s their end of year project, as there are outside deadlines for them to work to, which help to motivate the students to get the project done on time.
Self Produce/Mates Projects
I’ve done a few short films of my own and, once again, with mixed results, but its given me specific material that an agent has asked for and in the time frames I needed.
Plus, the bonus of this is, I get to pick my team, so I know we will work well together and the project will get done as well as those elusive copies will get sent out.
Best bit, I get a much better understanding 1st hand at how this works, so I gain huge respect for why there are so many on those big productions to make them work.
I say do students films, as you need to, do self produce, as you need to and work with mates, as you need to.
At the end of it helps you figure out how to self submit when they are looking for a sample of you doing their script. I got a job while traveling in Holland because I knew how to film it, edit it and send it in – all within 24hrs.
What has your experience been doing students films and/or self-producing? Let me know below:
Some Student Film schools in the South of England
King’s College – London
University of Sussex – Brighton
City College – Brighton
National Film School and Television School – London
Met Film Academy – London
Central Film School – London
This is just a sample and this is not an endorsement of any of these programs, just a listing, if I’ve forgotten some, then do add them in the comments below: