The transition from A Level Study, college, or a year out to university or Film School is a daunting one. It is likely you are already thinking about the new people you will meet, where you will be living and, of course, how difficult your course will be. Unfortunately you can only prepare so much before diving in to the new experience, but there are some things you can do to lighten the load study-wise. These are...
If your course comes with a reading list, get reading now! Despite going in with the best intentions, it is extremely unlikely you will have the time, or energy, to get through the books once you have started your course.
With your schedule being jam packed with filmmaking, essay-writing, lecture-attending, and breaks to recuperate, time will be limited. Even allocating hours to complete the required reading for essays is likely to be tricky.
Taking the recommended reading off of your plate before you even step foot onto campus, will put you in the right mindset for the learning you are about to do. You will feel a lot more clued in when lecturers start using terminology, or mentioning theorists and waves of cinema, you may not have come across before.
And I mean e v e r y t h i n g.
In the long Summer break between further education courses winding down and your higher education study starting up, completely immerse yourself in cinema. It is unlikely you will have another opportunity like this once you leave Film School or university, so make the most of it!
If you are feeling lost, the Top 100 Films list from Empire and Sight and Sound are a great place to begin. Online streaming services are likely to have a bunch of the films listed, so make good use of the free trials available, or become a member at your local library if they have a renting service. And, if you can afford it, why not invest in a cinema membership card to catch all the latest releases too?
Once you have made your way through lists and new releases, seek out your favourite Director's filmography, or if have access to information about upcoming lectures, watch films related to those. Any viewing will allow you to establish a broader knowledge of cinema, and help you come up with ideas for the films you will be expected to make during your time studying.
KEEP AN IDEA JOURNAL
Reading books and watching films by the bucketload is guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing. To alleviate the pressure from constructing a film plot for a deadline, or to avoid forgetting the concepts you swear you will remember, keep an idea journal.
The journal doesn't need to be fancy - although we sell a pretty neat stationery set if you are that way inclined - just something that is portable and accessible for keeping track of anything useful that springs to mind. This could be lists of films you love, mood-boards of stills showcasing styles you admire, words you associate with a feel you would like to recreate, or even notes for entire narratives...
There is no right or wrong way to use your idea journal!
(Creator of A Film Club)
Did you study film in higher education? Tell us your tips for utilising the time before starting a course! Tweet them to us or use the hashtag #afilmclub to join in the conversation.