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Long Road Media Applied Diploma and Film A level students’ outstanding success

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A record six students win places on two different BFI national academies

The students in the photo are l-r back row: Jake Flack, Francis Pesquera, Will Smith, Diara Ndiaye and front row: Tom Smith and Louanne Honey

1. BFI National Film Academy

Four Long Road students have just heard that they have won places on the prestigious BFI National Film Academy Craft Residential, which kicks off with a preliminary weekend in March, where the students meet their mentors and the other participants, followed by the full academy over two weeks in April.

Only 66 places are available to sixth-form students across the whole country, so this is an amazing achievement for the college, exceeding our previous record of three students in 2016. The academy takes place at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in Beasconsfield and offers a choice of craft specialisms.

Throughout the full academy, established film-makers run masterclasses to share their experience and screen examples of their work. NFTS tutors lead craft specialist workshops, and there are presentations and panels on the roles of sound, art direction, the film business and marketing. Thed students work in groups, planning short films and going out onto location to shoot, followed by two days of editing. There is also a trip to London to visit the Tate Modern and the BFI, where students have another masterclass from a filmmaker.

Our four students all took part at the BFI Regional Academy, which was run by Long Road Sixth Form College in October 2016. Although attendance at this is a not condition of entry for the National Academy, all four students agreed that what they learned on the Regional Academy gave them invaluable preliminary experience:

Louanne Honey – Media Level 3 Diploma and English Literature A level
Craft specialism at BFI Academy: Screenwriting

“I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing, and although I was in the editing group on the Regional Academy, my teacher suggested I apply for screenwriting for the National Academy. As part of my college work, I wrote a script for an intro to The Game of Shadows, and this helped me with my application. After Long Road I’m hoping to study Film and Moving Image Production at Norwich University of the Arts or Film Production at University for the Creative Arts at Farnham.”

Diara Ndiaye – Media Level 3 Diploma and Film Studies A level
Craft specialism at BFI Academy: Producing

“I really enjoyed the Regional Academy at Long Road in October, where I took the role of First Assistant Director. It was amazing working with professionals, including two former Long Road students, Bradley Stearn and Ryd Cook, and this inspired me to apply for the National Academy. I’m very interested in a career in directing or producing and have a university place at the Met Film School in London, next to the Ealing Studios, to study Film Production.”

Francis Pesquera  – Media Level 3 Diploma and Film Studies A level
Craft specialism at BFI Academy: Cinematography

“My cinematography techniques improved enormously at the Regional Academy. It was great working with Bradley Stearn as I learned masses about the varied aspects of film and the different types of lens available. I’m going to take a gap year to carry out work experience and build up my portfolio, then study at Norwich University of the Arts or the University of Bournemouth.

Will Smith – Media Level 3 Diploma and Photography A level
Craft specialism at BFI Academy: Production Design

“I’d never done production design before but I converted a Long Road bicycle shed into a cave during the Regional Academy.  It was great fun, so I was really pleased to be accepted onto the Production Design specialism.  After Long Road I’m planning to study at the Northern Film School, which is part of Leeds Beckett University, or at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham.”

2. BFI Film Academy: Documentary specialist residential course

Meanwhile, for the first time, two Long Road students have taken part in the specialist documentary craft course, which took place in Debdon during February half term.

Jake Flack – Media Level 3 Diploma and Graphic Design Level 3 Diploma

“There were only 40 places available nationally on this course, so it was a great help having taken part in the Regional Academy. I put a lot of work into my application, and it paid off. We started with a residential weekend in January where we watched a number of documentaries, including Imposter and Amy, and met James Gay-Reece, who produced Amy and also Senna. We had masterclasses on sound, camera and pre-production.

“Over half term we worked in groups to film a documentary, Creative Resilience.  I was the producer so focused on the logistics of our documentary, including the cost. The main filming took place at a Youth Centre, where we interviewed two 17-year-old refugees about how they were being helped by art therapy. As my role had concentrated mainly on pre-planning, my task here was to film the documentary process itself. We also had masterclasses on editing and met BBC 3 reporter Stacey Dooley (known for World’s Worst Place to be a Woman) and Ade Adepitan from Channel 4’s Unreported World.

“We went to the BFI in London to the BFI Futures Film Festival and also attended a talk by Simon Chinn, who produced the Louis Theroux documentary My Scientology Movie.

“The week ended with a trip to the Rich Mix cinema, where all our documentaries were screened.

“I’m going to study Moving Film and Image Production at Norwich University of the Arts or Film Production at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham.”

Thomas Smith – Film, History and ICT A levels

“My documentary was called Writing an Anthem, and it was about Barry Mason, who wrote Delilah (as sung by Tom Jones). One of the people in my group is related to Barry so it was easy for us to film him. The documentary was about his life, how the song came to be written, and gave advice on song-writing. I was the editor, so the masterclasses we had on editing were really helpful, though I also took part in the Regional Academy in October. It was great seeing our film screened at Rich Mix.

“I’ve also got an offer to study Moving Film and Image Production at Norwich University of the Arts. I had to make a short film for my application, and both Jake and I received our offers on the first day of the BFI course, which was very timely! I’m now really interested in editing but am looking forward to developing my skills further during the rest of my time at Long Road and at university.”