“Our courses are focussed on learning and developing real world skills. Getting hands on experience in an environment where it's okay to make mistakes is something that students can reflect on and learn from."
Stephen Griffiths, Course Leader for Film Television and Radio Studies
Film and drama students from Staffordshire University have joined forces to produce, shoot and star in a soap opera.
The Cadman Television Studio has been transformed into a soap set, which could easily be mistaken for the Eastenders cafe in Albert Square, as BA (Hons) Film, Television and Radio Studies and BA (Hons) Acting and Screen Performance students film three scenes written by part-time lecturer Bernard Padden, a regular scriptwriter for BBC's Doctors.
Stephen Griffiths, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Film, Television and Radio Studies, explained: “The script is typical of what you would get working in industry and the cameras are the same as those used to record soaps like Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street. It's really good experience for our students getting used to being in a TV studio environment.”
The production crew have sourced props, built the set and are co-ordinating the shoot while acting students get experience of a multi-camera shoot and perform traditional soap-style storylines that tackle family feuds, murder and fatal illness.
On-set the students have benefited from the industry experience of Bernard and other lecturers including Andrew Fillis who appeared in Brookside.
Louise Shabolt, part of the production crew, said: “It's really refreshing working with tutors who have direct links with industry because you get to learn from their experience and put that into practice.
“Having such a professional set up and understanding everything that goes into a production like this will be really useful for when we start jobs in the industry.”
Ryan Edwards, who stars in soap, added: “It's quite a privilege to perform a script written by a professional soap writer. Being on a proper set with the big cameras and the lights is quite daunting at first but you adjust and it's really fun.
“Working with Andrew has been incredible. When you go through a scene he can read you like a book and tell you exactly how you can improve your performance.”
The television studio opened last autumn after a £40m transformation of Staffordshire University's Stoke-on-Trent campus and other facilities include a brand new sound gallery, television gallery and editing suites.
Stephen commented: “A lot of television dramas, especially soaps, are still filmed in studios like this so having these brand new facilities on campus is fantastic. The television studio can be transformed into any kind of set – a game show, cooking programme or a drama.
“Our courses are focussed on learning and developing real world skills. Getting hands on experience in an environment where it's okay to make mistakes is something that students can reflect on and learn from before they go out and work in the industry.”
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