One of the key reasons I chose to study at York was that in your second year, every student on the Film and Television Production course gets to write, direct and produce their own short film using the university equipment. It’s a fantastic opportunity for each person to experiment with their own ideas and come away with their own film. It also means that you get to crew on other projects, and get credited in a range of different roles. This means that throughout the month of March, you’re pretty much destined to get little/no sleep.
My film is called The Babysitter, and is a short horror about a young girl who hears noises in the house and grabs a knife…(!) I wanted to make it a real play on classic horror films like Psycho (1960), Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and Halloween (1978), so I spent a lot of time thinking about the visual style and production design, and watching as many horror/thriller films for inspiration as I could. I spent hours storyboarding each shot, and in the run up to filming, I asked favours of everyone I knew, and begged and borrowed (but never stole!) random items to use as props and set dressing (including a variety of lamps, a cactus and a selection of knives). In the end, I cast an amazing upcoming actress called Tia in the lead role, and after weeks of location scouting, eventually found the perfect location to shoot in – a large apartment in Harrogate.
We only had 2 1/2 days to shoot our films, so as always, time was of the essence. Everything was meticulously planned in advance (from travel time to our meal breaks). As mine was a night shoot, this meant three nights of seeing the sun rise as we packed up kit (I cannot thank my crew enough). After my own shoot, I had two more straight after one another. One was another night shoot (a dark comedy found-footage), and then a day shoot (a post-apocalyptic drama with a 7am call time), so for a few weeks, it was like I was jet-lagged in my own country. However, looking at the rushes now, I’m so happy that we did it (and survived) because it was all definitely worth it in the end. Besides, one of the greatest things about the TFTV department is that the editing suite is open 24 hours a day, so there’s no rest for the wicked – yet.
Plus in a few weeks it all starts all over again, as next term we all get to write, direct and produce our own 8 minute live TV production in the Heslington Studios…wish me luck.
BSc Film & Television Production student at the University of York.
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