We’re kicking off the week with a special edition of Good News, our series of testimonials from former GCSE and ‘A’ Level Media and Film studies students. We’re very lucky to have secured an interview with critically acclaimed writer, actor and directorNoel Clarke, perhaps best known amongst British audiences as Mickey Smith from Doctor Who (2005-10) and Sam Peel in Kidulthood (2006) and Adulthood (2008).
Noel studied A Level Media Studies at St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College in Kensington, before reading Media at the University of North London. He went on to train at The Actors Centre while building his first production company and writing several screenplays. In 2003 he won the Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer and was awarded the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award in 2009.
Noel appeared in and wrote the screenplay for Kidulthood and wrote, directed and starred in the sequel, Adulthood which gained £1.2m at the box office in its opening weekend. He also wrote, directed and starred in 18.104.22.168. (2010) shot in London and New York. His latest film The Anomaly, starring himself, Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries) and Brian Cox (Red2) is being released Friday 4th July (You can watch the trailer here.)
We asked Noel some questions about his achievements and why he thinks studying Media is worthwhile.
So how did you get started in the film industry? “I didn’t get school. I tried, but I was the kid who never excelled at anything – except sport. I left with two GCSEs. It was only when I went to college and we were given cameras as part of our Media Studies course that things started to make sense and put me on the path that I am on today. Media Studies and Theatre Studies A levels fuelled the passion I had for acting and filmmaking. I was encouraged every step of the way. Without that inspiration and opportunity I wouldn’t be doing what I am now.”
Were there any defining moments for you? “Studying Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ blew my mind – the narrative. Beforehand, I’d watch films and there was a beginning, middle and an end, and that’s it. There is in that film, too, but it’s out of sequence.”
What about practical production skills? “In Media Studies I learnt how to shoot, light, edit and produce videos in the edit suite. We made everything from music videos and movie trailers to short films. It was a real education in production skills and I lived in that edit suite for over a year.”
Is Media Studies worthwhile? “Of course it is; kids learn all about the history and impact of the media. And they learn lots of creative and practical skills, how to think and write and use their imagination too. Lots of them will go on to do new, creative, amazing things from that good start. I think it’s important that we have a new batch of British film-makers that aren’t doing the same old stuff. And that includes me.”
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Today we continue ‘Good News’, our series of testimonials from former GCSE and A Level Media and Film studies students, telling us about some of the fantastic things they have achieved in the creative industries and beyond.
St Mary’s College in Blackburn has been running Media GCSE and A Level courses since 2001, and runs the Aspire2Be campaign, inspiring current students through showcasing the achievements of St Mary’s alumni across all subjects. Jenny McNulty, current head of Media Studies, tells us about the achievements of a selection of her former students, working across television and radio.
Joe Huxley (above) is a Television Producer; He started out as an Edit Assistant at Endemol and is currently working for Plastic Pictures in London.
Phil Pooleis the Programme Controller for BOX Television’s music channels, which include The Box, 4Music, Kerrang and Smash Hits, amongst others. His advertising clients have included KFC, Microsoft, Rimmel and Bacardi. He began his career as a Producer for Rock FM and Kiss FM before moving into music television.
Adam Catterall also worked at Rock FM, as their breakfast DJ for several years. He moved to BBC Radio 1 in 2011 and now works in promotions and voice overs, most notably for ITV2, ITV4, Jet2 aeroplanes and Foxy Bingo. Adam cut his teeth in radio by running St Mary’s in-house radio station alongside his A Level in Media Studies.
Greg Fee (below) now runs Drop in Digital – a visual effects and Post Production company in London, who’s clients include Lucozade, Jessie J and Biffy Clyro. Last year Greg worked as a visual effects editor on the Scarlett Johansson film Under the Skin.
Sam Fenton runs Fentonography, a successful media production business focusing upon music videos and advertising. His clients include De’Nova and ETO Jeans.
Holly Laffy is working in Television Production for ITV at their studios in Manchester. Recently she was part of the production team for Ade in Britain.
Gemma Baron (below) is a radio presenter currently working for 2BR radio station in East Lancashire. She joined 2BR in 2007 and has worked her way up from a short weekend slot to being the programming controller for both 2BR and their sister station, 107 The Bee.
Today we continue ‘Good News’, our series of testimonials from former GCSE and ‘A’ Level Media and Film studies students, telling us about some of the fantastic things they have achieved in the creative industries and beyond.
Today’s testimonial comes from Poppy Reid, who studied Media at ‘A’ Level at Gordonstoun School, near Elgin. Poppy is graduating from The Arts University Bournemouth this summer with a BA in Visual Communication and forging out a career as a Designer and Copywriter.
“My time studying Media Studies at Gordonstoun massively helped me to gain a place at university” says Poppy. “Even the course interview involved a proficient knowledge of media – the world of graphic design depends on the subjects involved in Media Studies in order to stay up to date with current practices.”
Poppy realised the value of her ‘A’ Level in Media studies while producing work for industry brands as part of her degree course. She also singled out her former teacher, Mrs Black, for going the extra mile: “During my final year dissertation, Mrs Black was more than happy to help me construct an essay which examined the importance of visual identity for contemporary brands and institutions.” It is remarkable that a teacher would take the time to help a former student at a later stage of their education.
After Poppy celebrates graduating next month, she will be entering the advertising industry and catering to major consumer brands, but tells us that she won’t forget her educational experiences: “It is my genuine belief that without my ‘A’ Level in Media Studies, I would not have gotten as far as I have, and who knows how much further it could take me in terms of success within a working environment?”
Good News is our series of testimonials from former GCSE and ‘A’ Level Media and Film Studies students, telling us about some of the fantastic things they have achieved in the creative industries and beyond. Today’s testimonial comes from Ali Baxter, who studied Media at ‘A’ Level between 2010-12 at Gordonstoun School, near Elgin.
Rather than pursuing a career in the creative industries, Ali is an Executive Assistant at Gairland LLP, a Scottish property development company. Ali tells us his job involves “helping promote Residential and Commercial properties. This is achieved by using Advertising and Marketing to capture peoples attention to come visit, buy or rent the property.”
Ali describes Media Studies as one of his favourite subjects at ‘A’ Level: “It was one of the few that I could see first hand the effect it had on my life. Media has such an enormous power and presence in our society; it would be not just a shame but a disservice not to inform students about it.”
It is not just practical skills, such as image and video editing, that Ali has been able to transfer from the classroom into his job in the property sector. He tells us audience research skills he learnt from Media Studies are used to market effectively to potential customers. He frequently creates timelines of events for Gairland LLP, “as we did when creating our Feature Film Introduction.”
Ali sees the Media as “how we get news, interact, communicate, research, create and learn. I do hope it will be seen as an adequate ‘A’ Level as it has taught me a great deal”. What his testimonial and profession tells us is that Media Studies is a qualification that builds transferable practical and theoretical skills, which are applicable in a huge range of disciplines, inside and outside the creative industries.