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  • Safy Abecasis

Hello 2023

I'm going into 2023 with some of the most ambitious ideas and projects I've ever committed to on the table. While also beginning to specialise in my university course, I've recently received some of the most motivational (and unexpected) encouragement from someone I look up to.

Specialising in 2023:

The second semester of our second year at university is when we take units that we've personally chosen to do, this is also when our grades start counting towards our degrees. While that's an absolutely terrifying thing to acknowledge, I do have the fact that (to my knowledge) so far I've received the highest grades on any film project I've submitted for assessment out of my year group, or at least out of my social group, who are some of the more pro-active students.

The units I'll be taking are Directing, Production Management and Acting. Initially, I was taking a unit called Script Skills instead of Production Management. From what I've read, Directing and Production Management are the units with the largest workloads, which most students find intimidating... myself included. However, today I emailed the university about switching from Script Skills to Production Management, as I'm up for the challenge. I've also decided to take Acting as it's one of the less intense units so should allow me to accommodate the workloads from my other units.

Motivation from James:

James is one of, if not the lecturer I look up to the most. From day one it was obvious that he was the type of person who is straightforward and honest, even if it's not what you want to hear, which is something I've always had an affinity for when it comes to teachers/lecturers.

Recently, we had to pitch a film idea as part of a seminar task, there was a whole £5 up for grabs for the best pitch of each seminar group. We were purely being assessed on our ability to pitch, the quality/potential of what we were pitching wasn't terribly important. This is a snippet of what James had to say about the task:

"I don't mind what you pitch in terms of style, length, form, content etc. But you only have three minutes maximum, without visual aids. If you have any questions about the task, keep them to yourself and live with the deep level of uncertainty that pitching your ideas brings. At the worse, you'll only be wrong for three minutes" - James

We were all given the opportunity not to pitch, which the majority of the seminar group took. Out of a room of around 10 people, only 4 presented their idea. James saved all of his feedback until everyone had presented so that we were all on the same playing field, rather than having the last person to pitch be aware of everyone else's criticism, allowing them to tailor their pitch to avoid making the same mistake... which I really appreciated James acknowledging.

The order of pitches was decided by drawing names out of a hat, I presented my idea second. To be completely honest, I thought my presentation went horribly. Clearly, the rest of the seminar thought this too as after we had all pitched, we had to anonymously write down who we thought had the best pitch on a small piece of paper for James to count. He sorted them into 3 piles... someone got no votes... me!

James found this interesting and proceeded to tell the room that he disagreed with them as he made his way over to give me the £5! He then asked me to stay behind so we can discuss my pitch further. Once the rest of the seminar group had left, James and I spoke about my pitch for the better part of an hour, during which he told me that my pitch was one of the more interesting pitches he had heard from this exercise, he told me to go away and make it... I plan on doing exactly that!

I'll be honest and say that hearing this from someone like James was an amazing feeling, it's what gave me the courage to take on both the Directing and Production Management units in the upcoming semester. I walked away from that conversation with James feeling more motivated than I ever have before and not to forget... £5 richer too!

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