Tag Archives: PDP

Personal Development Portfolio (PDP) – My Creative Journey

Personal Development Portfolio

My creative journey started when I was in the final years of secondary school. Back then I had the ambition to be an author as I used to write short stories when I was younger for fun and felt that it seemed like a profession I would like to get into. However, after I picked Film Studies to study at college, I was introduced to the craft of screenwriting and found that I much rather preferred telling stories through a visual medium rather than through prose.

During my time at college, I attended the BFI Regional Film Academy in Hackney with the Eastside Educational Trust, I attended it because my film studies teacher recommended it to me and I found that it was an extremely invaluable experience. I met and networked with a vast array of different people and ended up making my first ever short film with them. In hindsight, the film I made wasn’t the best it could be but I enjoyed the process immensely.

During my time at the BFI Film Academy I applied to attend a two week residential course at the NFTS (National Film & Television School) where the 54 of the best and brightest young filmmakers around the country were invited to spend two weeks at the NFTS to engage in masterclasses, workshops, screenings and trips. We were split into six groups of nine and each group made a film using the NFTS’s equipment and resources. I was the co-writer and sound recordist for my group and the writing process behind the script for our film Cha Cha Cha really boosted my confidence in terms of my writing ability. The whole process was one of the best I had ever experienced and really invigorated my interest in film and I felt more determined than ever to pursue a career in the industry.

That fall, I attended the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University where I studied Film & TV Production. It was there that I learned all the basic technical aspects of filmmaking such as cinematography, editing and sound recording. It was there I also learned about visual storytelling and not relying on dialogue as a screenwriter which was my first challenge in the short film I wrote and produced called The Parcel in which I was only allowed to write three lines of dialogue. This really challenged me to write specifically for the screen, an aspect of screenwriting I hadn’t really explored in depth before. Nevertheless I believe the final product we produced was a good and solid short film that was simple in premise but well executed.

I didn’t finish my higher education at Anglia Ruskin as over the course of my first year, I grew dissatisfied with the city I was living in and didn’t feel that a course that covered both film and television was suited to my career aspects as the television part of the course focused specifically on the corporate side of television such as factual programming and television studio production. Whilst having experience with these different formats of filmmaking was appreciated, it wasn’t what I was really interested in doing in the industry. Considering all those factors, I decided to change universities for my second year and out of all the universities I applied to with prospect of transferring I ended up deciding to transfer to Middlesex University.

I knew transferring to a new university would be a daunting experience as I knew I would have to assimilate into a cohort that already knew each other. Luckily however, the music video and book trailer productions helped me meet and familiarise myself with everyone on the course as I crewed on as many productions as I could just for that sole purpose. In the first term of second year, I directed my own music video and produced a book trailer. I felt pretty happy with the way my music video turned out but I did not enjoy producing my book trailer which I found a struggle. I feel that producing doesn’t really fall naturally to me so I elected to direct in the second term.

I ended up directing a film called Lamentation that was based off a script someone on my course had written although I did do a few rewrites. At the time, I had rather positive feelings about this film but now I feel that I selected the wrong subject matter to direct as I had no personal investment in the story. This experience really taught me about having a point of view on a story in order to tell it truthfully.

For my final year at university, I wrestled between choosing either screenwriting or directing as my dissertation pathway. I ultimately ended up choosing screenwriting as I wanted to improve my storytelling skills before I seriously direct anything else in future as I learned from my experience directing in the second year. In all of my previous projects I have either written or co-written them, however all the stories I have written were always London-based so I was always writing from what I knew. For my dissertation project I wanted to challenge myself and write something that I don’t know anything about as in the industry as a screenwriter, I know you won’t always be writing stories in settings you readily know so I thought this would be good practice and experience for me to be industry-ready. Although I know that the pilot I wrote is a big-budget project and isn’t suitable subject matter for an emerging writer such as myself to write as a calling card to the industry, I still wanted to challenge myself to write something on this scale. I never intended for this screenplay from the beginning to be my calling card into the industry; I merely wanted to write a story that interested me.

My plan for the future is to secure paid work as a freelance film editor whilst I continue to write scripts on the side to get them produced. I’m already slated to work with two of my classmates as their editor for their production company they are starting up and have already worked with them previously on a corporate editing job. Will also be looking for any screenwriting competitions or schemes I can be part of to break into the industry.

Word count – 1,058

Online Profile – http://asemanda.wix.com/alex-semanda

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Filed under MDA3300 - Film Research & Context