I had good credits from Oxford Brookes University to qualify for a straight entry to a degree course at Middlesex University but I wasn’t very confident I needed to refresh myself and catch up with the current demands of learning in modern universities before embarking on a degree course.
I enrolled for a 12 week course an Intensive Foundation in Digital Arts (IFDA) in January 2010 and just after the 2nd week I realized my tuition loan from Student Finance England was declined and because I had to pay £1900 to the University for the course I decided to withdraw and look for work then start again in April the same year.
I enrolled again in April and unlike the previous class which had 10 students, we were only 2 in our class I was focused into documentary film making and my colleague was into animation. This worked out really well for a small class it was hands on training and my tutors John Cox And Andrew Pomphrey had all their time for the two of us.
IFDA ran together with (IFAD) Intensive Foundation in Arts and Design) and we benefited from studying along fashion and design students, fine arts, fashion communication and styling, graphic design, interior design, product design, and photography students. I was involved in projects, had group discussions and worked together with them and acquired different skills in different areas related to art and design including drawing and modelling.
In the foundation course I was introduced to film, what film is, how films are made, basic knowledge in film making, still and moving image, the difference between them and how they relate to each other.
I had an induction in still and video camera with tutorials in class and got linked to online tutorials at Linda.com which made a great a difference in my progress as I could access it both from home and at the university.
My first assignment was to show my knowledge in operating a video camera, how to use a camera, know how to use the ISO, the F-stop, control the aperture, light intensity, white balance, focus, depth of field and shutter speed. It was great fun to understand the camera and to know how to avoid poor footage in filming e.g. out of focus, blurry images, too dark or too bright shots or even wobbling while hand held filming.
In the 4th week I was given my first film making project to recreate a 10 minute film and I chose to do Alfred Hitchcock’s opening scene in The Trouble With Harry (1955) I had my tutor directing the film, my only colleague in class “Jottie Gala” to play Harry and I was the DOP and editor then we alternated roles in her film.
It was a great achievement to put our long awaited profession in practice and we managed to make a 3 1/2 minute film. We did all the filming at Trent park campus in the woods and it recreated a similar atmosphere and same time of the year as the original film with extreme wide introduction shots showing the stables and the woods, medium shots of Harry, close up shots of the man shot down and extreme shots of the body shot from a low angle to show Harry looking inferior as he is seen between the man’s pair of big boots. I also learned where and how to use to use POV shots to show the audience where the character is focused and also where to use follow on shots an example is how we followed Harry in the woods and making sure we are not loosing our direction.
I edited the film at the Digital Media Workshop (DMW) on final cut pro and downloaded free sound effects from the internet to create all the desired sounds in the woods including the birds, atmosphere, stream, gunshot and even horror and scary sounds when Harry discovers the dead man’s body. I found it easy to use final cut pro and it was a great experience to familiarize myself with a mac computer, I realized how important it is to check my footage after every take since I had to do several re-shoots due to bad footage. I also learned to keep on saving my work eventually or set auto save to avoid loosing it in case the computer crashes. My editing wasn’t very good but at this level I can say I was happy and I knew I will improve with time and practice, I learned how to add credits and how to create a DVD with end to start playback, scene selection and even how to create and print a DVD label.
A recreation of The Trouble With Harry is available on my work at the university page on the foundation course.