When I applied to Coventry University, pursuing a degree in Media Production, I only had some technical knowledge of ‘how stuff works’. I’d had a taste of some radio, news reporting and photography work, and was just starting to understand how internet content works and why. I did have an intention though – to get a deeper understanding of what the world of media production actually looks and feels like, to become part of it, and to learn to ‘produce’. I didn’t go to University to learn how to use a camera (and apparently I still can’t), I went to learn the professional, and, why not, commercial side of production. It is often a child’s dream and fascination to be on a film set, to be part of their favourite production, etc. For me though, that was not enough. I wanted to understand and experience first hand how ideas are shaped into scripts, into concepts, into proposals, how budgets work, how to organise this whole production, and how to find an audience for it.
I can certainly say that three years ago I had only seen the ‘industry’ from outside – as a viewer, fan, someone with technical abilities but almost zero understanding. Today though, I have a much better understanding and appreciation of the processes in a project like this. I can appreciate the time and energy needed, the number of people you need in a team to make an idea come true… And I’ve also finally found out what the Director’s role is. Honestly, I knew what the Producer does, but had no idea why it made such a big difference who directed this or that project.
Going through the degree, and especially through the experience of producing my own Final media production, I’ve come to realise where I have potential, interest, which directions I want to dig deeper into, and which parts of a media production process I’m not interested in. I know myself better, both on a professional and on a personal level. I’ve found and developed unexpected skills and qualities – like interviewing people, helping put structure in someone’s creative chaos of ideas, making a point with audiovisual media, telling a story with no words… I’ve also developed a much more intense sensitivity to ‘who says what and why’ in the media world. I now don’t just see images and hear words – I ask the question, ‘So what is their agenda?’, and I also understand the importance of your own expressive and creative intention in going ahead with a project.
The difference between pure self expression and communication – between art and design, is having a purpose. Then you understand better the feedback you receive – based on a brief / agenda / communication goal. Another important point to make is the ‘good enough’ compromise. There is no such thing as an ideal project, ideal conditions – in every project there are tons of compromises we need to make (including ideological…), but if we want them to work, and in order to live in the reality, we need to make them. It’s not the fact you’re making compromises that defines you – it’s *which* compromises you are making. The sooner we learn to make these choices, the better.
My FMP also taught me to look for my own unique voice, but I don’t necessarily need to express it from first person. It is much more interesting to shape an idea based on collaboration, on sometimes conflicting arguments, etc.
Another important lesson I learned was that stories are not linear, they are not *written* – they are constructed. Especially when it comes to film, you don’t just sit down and create your film – you construct it from thousands of small details, you create meaning from putting these seemingly unrelated pieces together, and it has layers and layers of stories to add. Absolutely fascinating.