Dundee takes the cake film-wise, darling

14th April 2000 at 01:00
'The event wasn't about winning or losing - it offered a chance for students and lecturers to meet people working right across the industry' WHAT a weekend for the film industry. Yes of course I was there, darlings, weaving my way through a sea of Prada cardies and Mou Mou sandals and just soaking up the sheer style of it all. I can now say oka-ay with just the correct degree of musical inflection and listen to the latest gossip about Sean Connery or Michael Douglas or "what I said to Michael Caine" without my jaw dropping open. In short, I've been wallowing in the film world's extravaganza of glittering prizes and the art of posing. Well, no, it's not as glamorous as it seems, actually. Not the Oscars, but the first fabulous Scottish Students on Screen event held in Dundee.

Did you experience a sense of cognitive dissonance as you got to the end of that first par? Maybe you haven't visited the city recently. Even those of us who live here find we have to pinch ourselves to see if we wake or dream because suddenly we're where it's at. No sudden metamorphosis, but a steady flowering with deep roots drawing from the character of the city itself explains the chutzpah. With new confidence we now enter into debate on BBC arts programmes about the linguistic world of difference between Dundee's first person "Eh" and the Glaswegian "Ah". Ehdentity? Sor'ed!

The success of the cultural industries has offered our students insights into new careers not just in Dundee but nationally, and we have experienced a steady growth in demand for courses designed to meet the needs of students who see the welter of opportunities.

Run your eye over the list of classes being held on any day across campus and you'll find that, along with the more traditional courses, we offer multi-media, animation, website design, creative writing, dance, drama or rock music. Hats was the college's entry and though the film didn't make it through from the 100-plus contenders to the judges' choice of 28 films - two hours' of work which ranged from documentary to animation - they were left in no doubt as to the qualit and originality of the competition. So we didn't make it - this time.

But the event wasn't about winning or losing, nor was it just for film-makers. It offered the chance for students and lecturers to meet people working right across the industry. Top of the FAQs list during one careers session called "I don't want to make anything, but . . ." were questions about the best courses to take, and how to find a way into the business whether that was film journalism, publicity or marketing.

The answers may have disappointed some of the students who were on the edge of their seats looking for the magic secret because they were the same answers you'd get whether you had your heart set on the film industry or working for Marks amp; Spencer - learn all you can about the industry, be keen, work for nothing to gain experience if you have to, and don't give up.

The panel of industry professionals were generous with their encouragement and advice.

There was no surefire path to success, no single route that would guarantee a job. Their stories were both inspiring and cautionary: "It's the best job in the world - look, I'm sitting at the bar, chatting to Michael Caine for goodness sake - but I started at the bottom, on a local paper, writing up stories about the cricket club." Most students left that room a little less starry-eyed but a little more firm in their resolve.

Later I bumped into Martin, one of my current media students, taking tickets at the afternoon cinema session. "Great, so you get to see all the movies free," I ventured. "Yup," he said with the bored air of someone who's heard this remark before. Then he fixed me with a serious stare. "It's not as glamorous as it seems," he confided. A lesson well-learnt at this stage of your career, Martin.

But three hours later, as I tripped out, blinking at the daylight, clutching my poser's Scottish Screen carrier bag, I thought about Monday morning and my Communication 4 class, and oka-ay, Martin, but it seems glamorous enough to me.

Dr Carol Gow is a lecturer in MediaCommunication at Dundee College.

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