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‘And now, our feature presentation!’ UTC students wow audience at BFI with showreels demonstrating breadth and depth of creative skills

Students demonstrated the breadth and depth of their filmmaking, animation, and design skills at the annual UTC Creative Media Showcase this week, held at the British Film Institute in London.

Students from Doncaster UTC, Elstree Screen Arts Academy, The Global Academy, UTC@MediaCityUK, London Design and Engineering UTC, Mulberry UTC, and UTC Sheffield City Centre all took part in the showcase, introducing and presenting their showreels to the audience of their peers, industry VIPs and their family and friends.

Capital FM presenter Niall Gray introducing the showreels

Creative industry leaders introduce premiere of student showreels

The showreels were presented in the afternoon, in a premiere compered by Capital FM presenter Niall Gray. The showreels were preceded by an introduction by the former Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Lord Vaizey, who told the audience:

“I think University Technical Colleges are a really amazing creation because they give young people the opportunity to learn the skills you’re going to need to get fantastic jobs in the workforce.

“One of the things you learn when you do the job of culture minister is how important the creative industries are to the UK. Not only are they important to all of us as consumers, they are massive industries in their own right. They generate billions of pounds for the economy and they’re stuffed full of really fantastic jobs, not just in front of the camera, but behind the scenes making these productions work.”

Lord Vaizey introducing the UTC Creative Media Showcase 2023

Giving a keynote address after Lord Vaizey was Deborah Gbadamosi, Chief Executive of Brand Advance. Deborah talked students through her career history, from working as a child actor to leading an organisation that helps the world’s largest brands and agencies reach underrepresented consumers through technology.

“If I could do it all again differently, the place where I would have made the change would be at 18 where my mum said to me go and do computers and I would say ‘you’re absolutely right mum, but let me see what else is in the world of theatre and showbusiness’.

“I would have explored all my avenues because in my mind, I was going to be an actress. But I could have been a scriptwriter or a set designer. I could have been anything to do with the entertainment industry, had I had the right advice and known a little bit more.

“Life ain’t too shabby and I’m not complaining, but I am saying that when my parents were growing up they did what they had to do and I did what I was told to do and now you guys have the opportunity to do whatever it is you want to do.

“So absolutely follow your dream and do the thing that makes you happy because you’re going to be doing it for a very long time.”

Brand Advance CEO Deborah Gbadamosi giving a keynote address to the showcase

Following the speeches, students presented their showreels. The showcase covered a variety of different projects, including horror films, dramas tackling the topic of domestic violence, documentaries, magazines, and 3D models.

Global Academy showcased work including a short Star Wars film, while London Design and Engineering UTC’s showreel included a 3D model a student had made of King Charles III’s cipher.

Career pathways explored and apprenticeship myths busted in employer workshops

Prior to the showcase, students attended careers workshops held by three top-flight creative employers.

Sky Early Careers introduced the students to their Content Academy, including the 12-month Ignite programme for 18-year-olds and over who are not going to university and the 12-month Creative Access programme for underrepresented groups and graduates.

Sky drama production assistant Josh Kent at the showcase’s career workshop

Drama production assistant Josh Kent, who previously studied at a UTC and came through Sky on the Ignite programme, told the students:

“It’s so varied and tailored to you, so I had an interest in comedy and drama in particular, so my whole year revolved around that.”

The BFI Film Academy told students about their courses for 16-to-19-year-olds specialising in areas such as animation, VFX and film programming, as well as explaining the resources the institute holds such as its vast archive of films and TV programmes.

Students were also introduced to the BFI Future Film Festival, the UK’s largest film festival for young filmmakers, for which submissions are now open.

Resource Productions, which aims to diversify the creative sector, dedicated their workshop to busting any myths students may have heard about apprenticeships, including pay and the awarding of qualifications.

Level 4 apprentice Simran Sidhu, who works as a PR and communications assistant, told the audience she had very little luck finding a role in the creative sector. This is before she worked at a premier that Resource Productions had organised. She is now a PR and marketing assistant.

The community interest company’s project manager Abhi Arumbakkam explained how they have “grown the company through apprenticeships,” finding people who were willing but did not want to attend university.

Overall, there was a fantastic exchange of knowledge between students and employers throughout the day.