We’ve been having some technological problems with cutting. We needed to “re-up” our cut (a term I’ve copied from THE WIRE where the drug dealers get progressively more ambitious). We needed to migrate from our small 500gbyte USB drives which we had outgrown to something quicker and bigger. We were recommended 2Terrabyte ganged drives by Trevor at AVID (this means effectively a fast running Networked 1 Terrabyte drive), but it’s taken us 6 months to make this happen and meanwhile for a time we were left running the cut on 3 drives simultaneously, and with no backup. This was frightening. Eventually, I took all the drives to Mwnci, the post-production company in Cardiff, and they have diagnosed that the new super fast disk was faulty. However, having bought a new 1 Tbyte firewire disk we should now be operating properly again. Mynci copies our material to their Unity drive and then back to our hard drive, and back up drives.
This has brought me back to several thoughts about practice as research and project support. On the whole, the project hasn’t been part of a studio system that has been supported, and that has been why it has taken so long. Each bit of it has taken a very long time, but particularly post production. If (PhD) projects are to be supported then they need this kind of support and both technical and human support needs to be working in some kind of studio system. Given that Derek the Dean also wants a studio system to be operating we need to decide what this is. It’s not just finding money from outside and doing outside projects. It must be a kernel of something inside the filmschool.
On the technical front, at Mwnci Richard Moss suggested the school pays a retainer to a company, (he recommended one to me) to scope what the school needs on a regular basis in order to run smoothly (e.g. the correct cameras, sound equipment etc.). Whilst at the moment, each department has very good technicians, there’s a certain amount of empire building between departments and therefore things don’t speak across departments. Then lecturers have their own wish lists, and people leave and so on. A company which handles this from year to year would be able to look across the provision and make it work.
On the person/academic front, there’s more difficulty. The need to have a studio, and the need to have a set of courses with the bureaucracy and standards that this requires, QAA, room bookings etc., plus the reified way we do things at Newport means that there’s almost no chance of things working across courses at the moment, even if Derek has tried to make 20 credit modules. Therefore I can only talk about some kind of utopian film school. By starting with that, we could work back to what we have and find a way to mix it in.
We need a portfolio school. No separate years, but projects. First years work at a lower level than upper years etc, and tutors support in much more personal ways but also more craft ways. Tutors, external industry, internal PaR, small undergraduate teaching projects, and student generated projects are the projects. Theory and context is worked around projects, but also the projects stop for a short time for context and theory breaks. Technical education is also worked in through streamed seminars (theory could also be streamed or stranded). The work of the tutors would therefore be much more towards developing the students portfolios and actually more in line with educational thinking, but also very difficult because the planning of the year portfolio would be hard. However, this way there would be space for proper cross platform development and also individual work and single disciplinary work in a portfolio. Essentially, we would be developing the school as a new media conservatoire. However, theory cannot be hived off and taught as cheap chalk and talk, but must be part of this and taught as practice based exercises.