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Sheffield Hallam Film School 2019

Thursday 25 July 2019

Having just had their finished short film screened in front of the whole class to rapturous applause, two girls who had never met until three days ago exchange email addresses and a fist bump.  ‘I’m pretty happy with that’ says one of the students, red-faced but proud - and she really should be.  We’ve just watched a slick, insightful short film on ethnic diversity in Sheffield - produced, directed, edited and filmed by four sixth form students brought together by the Sheffield Hallam Film School 2019.  Before this week they were total strangers.

The Film School is a three-day event, a crash course in journalism and media that gives an insight in to the sort of activities undertaken by university students.  It’s a taster for 16-17-year-olds who are starting to consider higher education.   The class is split into small groups on day one as they take part in academic-led workshops.  After that, they choose a topic for their film and start planning.  Subject matters have ranged from music in Sheffield to plastic pollution. 

The different sixth forms are shuffled when groups are chosen: partly to leave space for new friendships and partly to replicate what it’s like going to university.  Back when I nervously slouched in to my first induction seminar in first year, the classmate I happened to sit next to went on to become my Final Year housemate and close friend.  It’s been special to see even the most reluctant students inevitably form new friendships at the Film School.

I graduated from Hallam recently with a First Class (oh yes) Bachelors’ Degree in journalism and I’ve been part of this year’s Film School team, reprising my Student Ambassador role from last year’s event.  It’s been a pleasure to mentor these students and work with them.  Things I’d forgotten I learned at university, camera techniques, shot sequences, editing short-cuts, all pushing their way forward from the back of my mind as I offer advice to teens not much younger than I was when I started Higher Education.   A highlight for me was seeing my name appear at the bottom of my group’s closing credits (‘…and Sam :) ’).

Over the course of just three days a young person’s confidence can sky-rocket.  I watched the faces of my group blush red with terror as they discovered they would have to approach members of the public with a camera, let-alone interview them on Sheffield’s bustling high-street.  By the afternoon of Day Two, however, they were striding up to potential interviewees in the city centre like it was second nature.  From what I’ve seen and heard, the students have loved this baptism of fire in filmmaking.  As Day Three has drawn to a close, they’ve been itching to get their final masterpieces on the projector, the big screen, and enjoy the product of three days’ hard work.  I have a feeling they’ll be staying in touch with each other.

This blog was written by Sam Webb, a journalism graduate from Sheffield Hallam University 

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