Bournemouth University Master’s student directing feature film


Bournemouth University student Norman Gregory, currently reading for a Master’s Degree in Film, has been in Tuscany directing his first feature film ‘A Reason to Leave’.

Film and Television stars Claire King (Emmerdale, Footballer’s Wives) and Mark Wingett (The Bill) take the leading roles in Gregory’s directorial debut. Cast and crew recently completed a fortnight of filming in Dorset, and have travelled to Tuscany for two more weeks of filming – with the film set between both locations.

Originally an actor, Gregory has decided to pursue a career in directing. He chose BU to complete his Masters in Film, as he believed the degree is the ‘best in the country for directing’. ‘A Reason to Leave’ is a part of Gregory’s final project.

The film, described as a ‘tragic redemption’, follows mother and daughter Sarah (King) and Bethany (played by Alice Bird) as they emigrate to Tuscany, and their involvement with Harry Webster (Wingett). Their reasons for their relocation are revealed as the film progresses.

The script was co-written by Gregory and BU Scriptwriting Master’s student James Cottle. Gregory lauded the strength of the script, which attracted King and Wingett. He said: “This is a really exciting project and I am delighted that Claire, Mark and Alice are playing the leads together with Simone Spinazza who joined us in Tuscany. They are all highly respected and established actors and are taking the film to another level. We have a wonderful script, co-written by James Cottle who is on the BU Scriptwriters Master’s course, the strength of which enabled us to attract Claire and Mark.”

A number of BU Master’s students have also had the opportunity to work on the film as crew members, providing vital experience as they finish their degrees.

Gregory’s tutor, Subject Leader in Film and Television Trevor Hearing, is expecting a positive response for ‘A Reason to Leave’.

Trevor Hearing said, “Norman’s debut feature film is the latest in a line of feature films to have come from graduates of Bournemouth University’s Media School in the past few years and this film looks to be just as successful. It is emotionally gripping story-telling at its best, with a recognisable cast who deliver powerful performances. Norman has drawn on his own acting career to get the best from his actors and he has delivered them a script which gives them a lot to work with. The film shows a distinctive directorial voice, combined with international locations and outstanding camerawork from a world class cinematographer. I am confident this is a film which will be talked about.”

Picture: Cast and crew on set in Tuscany, including Norman Gregory, Claire King and a number of BU students.

By Harriet Gilbraith

Harriet is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. She joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from the college with work experience for four weeks over the summer.

BU Postgraduate students share work at annual conference

Postgraduate students from across BU had the chance to share their work and research with others from across the university at the 6th Annual Postgraduate Conference.

Postgraduate work was shared through a series of talks – based around the BU’s eight research themes – and poster and photograph presentations.

The conference ran over two days, and, for the first time, featured presentations by postgraduate taught students as well as those working on postgraduate research.

Opening the conference, BU’s vice-chancellor Professor John Vinney, said: “It is the 6th Postgraduate Conference but, in my mind, it is the first one that brings together all this talent from across the organisation.

“It is a combination of all our excellent parts of education taking place at the university.”

Work featured in the conference covered everything from analysis of gunshot residue to childbirth in Nepal and changes in visual memory across the lifetime.

Prizes were given to the postgraduate students who had the best posters and photography and gave the best oral presentations.

Mike Rowley prize

Mike Rowley receiving his prize from Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor John Fletcher

Mike Rowley won the award for the best talk, which was about his work looking at planting particular trees in Haiti and Mexico to increase food security and potentially decrease carbon dioxide levels.

 “It was really unexpected,” said Mike, who is completing a Master’s degree in Applied Science by Research. 

“I’m shocked but it’s brilliant, and it was really great to have had the opportunity to present my work.

“Being able to practice presenting is a huge thing so this was a good opportunity to hone your skills and have feedback from your peers and colleagues.”

Fiona Knight, Academic Manager for The Graduate School, said: “The conference aims to bring all of our postgraduate students together, and helps to break down school boundaries.

“It gives them a chance to present their work in a friendly environment and get feedback from their peers.”

Keynote speeches at the conference were given by Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, and Professor Tiantian Zhang, Head of the Graduate School at BU, who spoke about her research journey looking at cryopreservation.

Professor Zhang’s advice to the current postgraduate students included making the most of networking and international opportunities, and remembering that research should be stimulating and fun.

“I think to choose the right research question is an important one,” she said.

“Networking and international collaboration is also important. It creates a lot of opportunity in terms of work and output but also grant applications.

“I do think it’s important to believe in what you do and never give up.”

Find out more about The Graduate School at Bournemouth University

BU TV Production graduate receives BAFTA nomination


An MA TV Production graduate from Bournemouth University has had his short film nominated for a BAFTA.

Ben Mallaby, who completed the Master’s course at BU in 2006, directed Island Queen, which has been shortlisted in the Short Film category for the 2014 BAFTAs.

The film, written by and starring Nat Luurtsema, follows a young woman on a small island who decides to have a baby using a sperm bank – only to find out it came from her brother.

“It’s such a huge honour to have been nominated for the BAFTA, I still can’t believe it happened,” said Ben, 30, who lives in London.

“The film was shortlisted, I’m sure, down to Nat Luurtsema’s great script and performance.”

He added: “Island Queen came about after I read an article about how some countries have to import donations for their sperm banks because, due to having such a small population, they couldn’t guarantee that you weren’t getting a relative’s donation.

“So our story is about Nat’s character Mim deciding she wants a baby and to her horror discovering it was her brother’s sperm.”

Ben, who is now a lecturer in Digital Film Production at Ravensbourne College as well as a freelance film-maker, said his time at BU helped kickstart his career.

“The MA gave me the time and resources to make films for a year – you don’t get much chance when you’re starting out as a freelancer to work on your own passion projects,” he said.

He and Nat are now working on a new project, called Annie Has Body Issues, which goes into production in May.

“The BAFTA nomination has already helped open doors for us, said Ben. “It’s helped validate the project and I’m really hoping we can take the film further now.”

Ben also plans to attend the 2014 BAFTA awards ceremony, which takes place at London’s Royal Opera House on Sunday 16th February.

He said: “It’s very exciting to have been invited to the awards ceremony next month.

“It’s going to be weird to be surrounded by so many high profile filmmakers and actually have a film in competition.”

Watch the trailer for Island Queen

Find out more about Television Production at Bournemouth University

BU Masters student appears in RPS Journal

Bournemouth University postgraduate student Kiratsinh Jadeja, recently appeared in the Royal Photographic Society Journal discussing his passion for 2D compositing.

Jadeja recently enrolled on the MA Digital Effects course at BU after discovering his interest in photography whilst travelling in India.

“I love blending my photography and Photoshop skills to produce a final result that is not only different and better, but also visually pleasing”.

“Bournemouth’s Digital Effects course is recognised by premier VFX studios like Double Negative and MPC. My interest lies in 2D compositing, which means blending frames shot in camera with computer generated frames, to come up with something totally different.”

Jadeja is building up an impressive portfolio having recently been signed as House Photographer for Getty Images and contributing photographer for Image Source. He also works with clients such as Microsoft Washington, Pearson Education UK and Expedia.

When asked about his time at the Bournemouth University, Jadeja said “I am proud to be a student here and I highly recommend it”.

BU student receives BAFTA scholarship


A budding animator has been able to realise her dream of studying at Bournemouth University after receiving a £7,500 scholarship from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Mawusime Blewuada, 29, will start her MA in 3D Computer Animation at BU at the end of the month after receiving the BAFTA grant towards her course fees.

The money has come from the BAFTA Scholarship Programme, which assists talented people in need of financial support to study a postgraduate course in film, television or games.

Mawusime is one of just ten students from across the UK to receive a BAFTA scholarship this year.

She said: “I was obviously very delighted to hear I had been chosen – I knew there was a lot of competition so I wasn’t certain I would get it.

“Receiving the scholarship meant I didn’t have to defer taking the course or take out an expensive loan to cover tuition fees.

“I can focus on studying without stressing too much about finance.”

Along with the money towards her course fees, Mawusime will receive mentoring support from BAFTA members and free access to BAFTA events around the UK.

The scholarship recipients will also share their learning experiences on BAFTA Guru, BAFTA’s online learning channel, and participate in future BAFTA outreach with young people.

Mawusime, from Thornton Heath in London, hopes to work in animated films and the visual effects industry after completing her Master’s degree.

She said: “I’ve chosen to study 3D Animation at BU because it has the reputation of being a challenging and comprehensive course that provides the teaching and resources I require. I’m really looking forward to collaborating on projects with other students from the National Centre for Computer Animation [based at Bournemouth University].

“In addition, the mentor support provided by BAFTA will be a great personal and professional advantage.”

Anne Morrison, Chair of BAFTA’s Learning and Events Committee, said: “This year’s scholarship recipients have great talents which, without the right support, were at risk of being lost from our industries.

“Through the BAFTA Scholarship Programme they now have access to funding, industry events and one-to-one mentoring, to help them make a tremendous contribution to our moving image industries.”

BU graduate goes write way to win BAFTA competition


By Dean Eastmond

A Bournemouth University Master’s graduate has won a nationwide BAFTA competition to find Britain’s most promising comedy writers.

Christiana Brockbank impressed judges including comediennes Jennifer Saunders and Jessica Hynes to be named one of the winners in the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum competition.

Christiana, who completed an MA in Writing for the Media at BU in 2010, beat more than 500 entries to be named one of the five winners of the competition, which searched for the UK’s most promising upcoming comedy writers.

She said: “It’s been a bit surreal – you go from trying to get people to read your work to suddenly having lots of people asking you if they can read your script, and that makes every single rejection letter before that absolutely worth it.”

Christiana, 26, will now see her sitcom – Binwomen – performed in front of other comedians, writers and industry bosses at this year’s Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.

The comedy follows compulsive hoarder Janet as she works on the bins, and the industry panel will include comedian John Bishop and Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy at the BBC.

Christiana will also receive one-to-one mentoring sessions with comedy commissioners and independent production companies and the chance to have a full script commission paid for by the BBC.

Christiana, who is from Bolton and now lives in Ealing, London, said her time at BU helped her develop her creativity.

“What I enjoyed most about the course was being in an environment where you were encouraged to collaborate and be creative. I made some lifelong friends there who I hope I’ll get to work with again,” said Christiana, who currently works in retail while writing in the evenings.

“After graduating from Bournemouth, I continued to keep writing short films, radio sketches and sitcoms before becoming a copywriter and living like a real adult for a while.

“In the end, I gave it up and decided to move to London with the hope of one day doing what felt most right – trying to write stuff that’s funny and maybe even getting paid for the privilege.”

The BAFTA Rocliffe Sitcom Showcase takes place at the Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival on Thursday 22 August.

Find out more about the competition

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

Benefits of doing an MA in Public Relations at BU featured in The Guardian

The benefits of studying an MA in Public Relations at BU were featured in an article in The Guardian.

The article, which featured in the newspaper’s postgraduate study supplement, looked at how Public Relations courses were adapting to the changing landscape, with social media and viral campaigns becoming increasingly important.

Journalist Carrie Dunn spoke with Hilary Stepien, programme coordinator for MA Public Relations at BU, about how the course ensures its graduates are fully up-to-date with the latest techniques and technology PR professionals are expected to master.

Hilary said: “We do equip students with a lot of the practical skills they’ll need to work in PR, from developing social media campaigns to pitching to clients to media relations skills, so we do all that as well, but it’s also heavily theoretical.”

She added that students often have a range of previous experience and come from lots of different backgrounds – including journalism, international relations and science.

The article also featured 2010 BU graduate Vanessa Procter, who now works as a project manager for PRIME research in the automotive industry.

She said that the course’s strong links with industry and networking opportunities helped with her smooth transition into work.

“The lessons learned, techniques applied and research conducted during my study enabled my career step straight into a demanding, fast-paced and exciting role with a global leader in strategic communications.

“All in all, the MA programme had a door opening effect for me, unleashing an exciting career path.”

Read The Guardian article in full

BU students excavate simulated mass war graves in rural Dorset


BU Master’s students have been out in rural Dorset locating and excavating simulated mass World War I graves.

Around 30 students from the MSc Forensic Osteology and MSc Forensic Archaeology courses at BU spent a week on the Trigon Estate, near Wareham.

The practical exercise involved students working together to locate and excavate simulated mass graves from World War I, using the latest technology and techniques.

Inside the graves were artificial skeletons, complete with artefacts which would have survived in real WW1 mass graves, such as weapons, coins, buttons and personal effects – including photos preserved inside cigarette tins.

Dr Martin Smith, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, helped to coordinate the simulation.

He said: “It’s really nice exercise that we do that pulls together everything that the students have been doing through the year.

“The anthropologists have learnt lots of theory about the anatomy of the body and how we can interpret types of trauma and disease, how we can tell age and sex and so on.

“The archaeologists have done all sorts of work on how we can find buried remains and how we can excavate them in a controlled and scientific manner.

“This allows us to get them to work together as a team, pull together everything that they have done and put it into practice.”

He added: “Although it’s a very artificial exercise, what we really want them to get out of it is about the process and doing these things in a planned and a controlled manner.”

As well as putting the theory and skills that they have learnt into practice, students also got a taste of how it is to work alongside each other in the field.

Paul Cheetham, Programme Coordinator for the MSc in Forensic Archaeology, said: “It pulls it all together – not only their specialist skills but also working alongside their natural colleagues that they would work with in the field in a professional capacity.

“It really does bring together this idea of working as a team, and bringing different skills together to solve problems.”

The work will now continue back in the labs – the artificial skeletons will be replaced with real ones, and students will have to use the evidence they have found through excavating the graves to write a report, trying to identify the soldiers and how they died.

They will then have to the chance to practice presenting their findings in court, at a mock war graves commission.

Students involved in the simulation said that they felt they had already learnt a lot.

MSc Forensic Archaeology student Elizabeth Knox, who had come from Sydney, Australia to study at BU, said: “It’s very realistic and it is preparing us well.

“We all have to be extremely professional, use all the skills that we’ve come across and work closely with the forensic osteologists.”

MSc Forensic Osteology student Sarah Clark added: “I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’ve learnt the importance of working with different disciplines to get results.

“We’ve all been working together and we know more about bones, and they know more about digging, so it’s been brilliant to be able to talk to them whenever we’ve not been sure of something.”

Find out more about studying MSc Forensic Archaeology and MSc Forensic Osteology at BU

Master’s Law courses at BU in The i newspaper

Master’s Law courses offered by Bournemouth University were featured in an article in The i about career options opened up by doing postgraduate training in law.

The article, by Russ Thorne, argues that postgraduate training in law can provide students with many different opportunities.

While some students may pursue the Master’s to move into a legal career having done a different undergraduate degree, BU’s Sally Weston says that existing lawyers can also benefit.

Sally, who is head of the Law department, said that a Master of laws (LLM) course provides in-depth training.

“The LLM curriculum is designed to develop critical evaluation and analysis,” she says in the article, which appeared in a postgraduate study supplement.

She continues: “LLM students interpret the meaning of words and abstract concept skills which are useful for law and other careers that require analysis of complex qualitative data.”

You can read the full article here

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Renowned comedy writer inspires students during talk at BU


Comedy writer Laurence Marks – who helped create some of Britain’s best loved sitcoms – shared his experiences with postgraduate students at Bournemouth University.

Laurence, who created the likes of Birds of a Feather and Goodnight Sweetheart with writing partner Maurice Gran, talked about his career to Master’s students from across BU’s Media School.

Laurence, who was a journalist before moving into writing, said the pair were inspired to begin writing together after winning competitions at a writing and acting workshop that they only attended because it was cheaper than heating their flats.

“I was a journalist, so I was at least writing and putting words on a page but I was a crime reporter, which is a long way from comedy,” he said.

“What I found was that the moment I sat down at my typewriter and started to write, not only did it flow out of me as if it had been welling up, but I had to write comedy. It was just flowing out of me.”

The pair’s first big hit was Shine On Harvey Moon, in 1982, and they then moved to Hollywood – where they were part of the team of writers working on Cheers.

After 14 months, they moved back to the UK and worked with Rik Mayall on political sitcom The New Statesman, which went on to win the BAFTA for Best Comedy Series.

Laurence told the students that, while writing in a partnership could be difficult, he would not want to do it alone.

“That instant feedback in comedy is your first audience,” he said.

“If he doesn’t laugh, ten million people aren’t going to laugh. I like to be in a room where there is somebody with you, crafting something. It’s more fun.”

“It helps if you know the person you are working with for a long, long time, as you have the same reference points.”

He added: “It was very difficult at first. Someone once said a writing partnership should be exactly the same as a marriage – except you never take your clothes off in front of each other.

“We argue all the time – the whole dynamic is argument and debate about what is going to work.”

He also likened writing to building a house – saying that you need an architect to make sure the structure is right before starting to decorate.

“Writing is the easy bit, like decorating,” he said. “But there is a lot of work to do before then in making sure the structure is right – it’s the planning, the story, the characters.”

His advice to the students – who came from Master’s courses including scriptwriting, cinematography and directing – was to find their own voice, and create characters that people wanted to watch.

“It is really first and foremost about character. You are building up this piece of a real person – because without truth, comedy doesn’t work,” he said.

“What we did was acknowledged what was being made and then wrote something different.

“Do what you want to do but it has to conform to what is, after all, a 28 minute show divided into 3 parts with great characters.”