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Travelling the globe making ‘rockumentaries’ for BBC Radio 1, Ben Lowe credits Staffordshire University for his leg-up into the music and film-making world. The MA Broadcast Journalism graduate worked for MTV News before choosing to go freelance – producing documentary films and entertainment shows around his passions of music, sport and comedy.
“Being fast-tracked as an undergraduate, Staffs presented me an amazing opportunity that I’ll forever be grateful for,” Ben said. “My MA will only have helped when I applied for a dream internship at MTV News. I think my documentary on LeeFest, that I made as part of my course, was probably the deciding factor.”
Ben joined Staffordshire University in 2009 on the MA Broadcast Journalism degree, attracted by the practical elements and facilities on offer. He explained: “Unlike other universities, which sadly cared more for UCAS points than enthusiasm and potential, Staffs recognised the journalism and TV production experience I had already gained.
“I really enjoyed the newsdays for being brilliant practical experience, where we were working in a real newsroom for StaffsLive, with our lecturers acting as editors. Interviewing David Cameron a few days before he became Prime Minister was a highlight, although I was definitely way too nice with my questioning!”
After graduating in 2011, Ben joined MTV News and describes it as his “big break in the music world”.
“There were hundreds of applicants for the internship, so to be shortlisted felt like an achievement. At MTV there were a lot of talented people to learn from, especially from MTV’s glory days, and being around them was inspiring. Music has been a love of my life so to have worked closely with some of my favourite bands in recent years is, for me, living the dream. I would be at their gigs anyway as a fan, so to be there capturing the action with my camera feels unbelievable.”
Ben left MTV News at the end of 2014 and has been freelancing for 18 months. Based in London, he says working for himself has been “immensely enjoyable”.
“Being freelance is exciting. I genuinely don’t know what I’ll be working on in a few months’ time, but I love dreaming up big ideas and pitching what I want to make.
“Recently, what I’m most proud of – as the film’s shooting producer/director – is my extreme festivals documentary on the insane Gathering of the Juggalos. It was my fourth Radio 1 documentary for BBC iPlayer in the space of 12 months and they’ve all enjoyed hugely positive reactions – particularly Slaves and Gathering of the Juggalos, which were both phenomenal fun to make. Juggalos charted in the top 10 on iPlayer’s most popular programmes, so that was cool to see. We are absolutely going to make more, celebrating extreme festivals and their scenes, which are interesting for often being misunderstood by the mainstream.”
Ben added: “Coming up, I’m doing more live music and documentaries, alongside some comedy and sport projects. I’ve focused on film-making because I love the creativity: thinking up original ideas, finding great locations and personalities to feature, then scripting, shooting, editing – the whole process is an adrenaline rush. I want to have ridiculous fun in my career. I enjoy celebrating the subject of my documentaries and try my best to make them entertaining and insightful.
“I’ve always been incredibly ambitious and wanted an extraordinary career. I’m just absolutely going for it. One day, I hope my documentaries are good enough to be shown on the big screen in cinemas.”