Jo M. has just spent six weeks at Cambridge TV School's summer hot-house. He reflects on what he's learned:
Q: What's the difference between learning on your own and learning at Camnbridge TV School?
A: When you do your own things, you do stuff to your own schedule, to your own standards, you find something interesting, you shoot it, you make something nice and then show it to your friends and they nod their heads and say yeah that's nice. But when you enter an environment like this you're not doing it to your own schedule or your own standards and people aren't really going to nod their heads and say that's nice, they're going to nod heir heads and say: make it better.
Q: What have you learned about planning a shoot?
With the films I made before I would find something interesting like the Lark characters and I would message them and say can I come up some time and ask you a few questions, and they say would say fine, and I would write down 10 questions and then turn up a week later, see what answers I got, and when it came to the edit I would sort of watch through everything and say, yeah that bit's nice and that bit's nice, and then slowly string a story together. And then, you know, you have something which is quite nice and is observational. Whereas now I would say, when we were functioning at our best over the last 6 weeks (at the School), we would say: OK we want to do this, and we want to make a 3 minute short about this and so therefore we need to get this shot and this shot and this shot, and it's just the level of planning and organization was just raising our game each time we did it. It's an awareness that when you're doing more ambitious shoots and you want things to be more cohesive and you have a schedule to keep you can't just wander around with the camera.
Q: What's the effect of having freelance TV professionals working with you as you plan, shoot and edit?
A: The big advantage of having lots of tutors is that, you know, you meet a lot of people in the industry and you realise thatthere is no a sort copy and paste job in television really, everyone has their own niche, everyone their own personal style and everyone has their own specialities. But then, just in teaching techniques as well it was useful because everyone also has different expectations as well as different personalities. So, Nigel at the start, for example, who had a gentle style of teaching which was nice when we were still kinda terrified of the cameras, but he was also a real perfectionist when it came to a shot so working with him we had to really work to get the shots he liked.
Whereas someone like Adam several weeks later, an editor, is pretty blunt about what he thinks is good editing and what is bad editing, and because of that you raise your editing game.
You are put under more pressure from external people which is good for your own personal development because you're aware of the fact that you will be showing it to other people, a lot of people more vastly experienced than you. So you are eager to make it better for them - better than you would do if it was just for yourself.