BFI Film Academy Graduate
The Cardinal in college

Year 13 Film and Media Studies student Jenn Platt has proved that our Elective Programme really can help to make dreams a reality, paving the way for our Future Creatives by securing a place on the British Film Institute Film Academy’s specialist residential programme. This is an excellent opportunity for any young person looking to pursue a career within the creative industry. Read on for Jenn’s account of her experiences.

With help from industry professionals such as Brian Ward, the head of screenwriting at the National Film and Television School, I’ve spent the last five months working on the script for a short film dealing with LGBT+ issues alongside psychological thriller genre conventions, titled Paralysis.

For twelve days over Easter, I met with ten other young filmmakers who would be bringing my script to life at the BFI Film Academy. In total there were six teams on the residential course, made up of people aged between 16 and 19. We participated in group masterclasses with Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Destiny Ekaragha (Gone Too Far!, Hot Pepper) Nathan Johnson (Brick, Looper, Don Jon), Sean McAllister (A Syrian Love Story, The Reluctant Revolutionary) and we even had Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle, Sunshine on Leith) visit us on the opening night of Eddie the Eagle for an exclusive screening of the film.

During our stay, we took part in team building activities, such as segway racing, as well as developing our films. We also enjoyed a full day in London where we were given a tour by the leader of the project, Pete Fraser, before exploring the Tate Modern and BFI Southbank.

For the film making itself, we participated in workshops on the expansion of narrative within each of our films and how to block out scenes. We then began the shoot, which was followed by two full days of editing.  Meanwhile, the remainder of our teams focused on marketing and getting our films into festivals. 

We concluded the residential by premiering our films at BFI Southbank to an audience of family and friends, as well as Alison Owen (Shaun of the Dead, Saving Mr. Banks), Faye Ward (Suffragette, Jane Eyre), Duncan Kenworthy (Love Actually, Notting Hill) and several other influential figures from the film industry.

Finally, the industry representatives held a graduation ceremony where all of the filmmakers were presented with certificates to commemorate our time on the course. Amanda Nevill, Chief Executive of the BFI, said “My warmest congratulations to all of today’s graduates! This is why the BFI is here, to do all that we can to find and support the UK’s filmmakers of the future.”

I had a fantastic time with the Academy and would recommend the residential courses to any young person interested in a future career in the film or creative industry.

By Jenn Platt