Chris studied Foundation Degree Film at Bridgend College and has now progressed to the final year of the BA (Hons) degree at the University of South Wales' ATRiuM campus.
Chris, would you like to start off by introducing yourself?
My name is Chris Lloyd, I’m 30 years of age and I’m currently living and studying here in Cardiff with the University of South Wales. I’m originally from Maesteg which is near Bridgend and two years ago I returned to full-time higher education by studying the Foundation Degree Film course at Bridgend College.
What prompted you to return to HE at this time in your life?
I had left school after studying A levels in History, English and RE and spent the next nine years working in offices and the retail sector. I had progressed to a team leader for a well known supermarket chain but this wasn’t where my passions laid. Making my own independent films is what I really enjoyed and despite working full time in retail to help fund projects and to try and make a pathway to a career for myself I discovered I could only progress so far. I was left disappointed when an American company had seen my work on-line and wanted to offer me an internship but as I didn’t have any formal qualifications I was unable to expand further.
I had previously thought university wasn’t for me. Nobody else in my family had gone to university but after seeing my younger brother and girlfriend studying towards university qualifications I felt inspired to move in that direction and to find a course that would help refine my skills to industry standard. Coincidently I was ‘tagged’ in a post for the foundation degree in Film at my local college in Bridgend. It didn’t even occur to me that I could study a university course at my local college and after researching it further the course was perfect for my career ambitions and so I successfully applied and enrolled.
How did you find the Foundation Degree and what were your favourite parts?
Firstly, the learning environment was ideal for me as I had been out of education for some time and being able to study in my local college was a good way to ease myself back in.
My favourite part of the course was probably being able to combine my own methods with industry techniques and being able to get vocational experience at the same time whilst studying. I was fortunate as I managed to secure some valuable work placements. I also felt that I was given the freedom to take on the creative film making process and not for it to be challenged or limited.
You’re currently a few months into your top-up course at USW. Did you always intend on studying the top-up and what are your experiences so far?
Yes! I had always wanted to study for the full degree and after I had completed the foundation degree I applied for the BA (Hons) top-up in Film and Video at USW. So far I’m really enjoying the course and it’s going well. I’ve had the chance to meet new people in the final year and I’m still learning new things and developing as an individual.
Did you have any concerns about progressing to the top-up?
I suppose I was quite fortunate in a way as one of my tutors on the foundation degree also teaches on the top-up course at the university so there was a level of familiarity in one respect. After studying at the college for two years I had established a rapport with my tutors who were aware of my style and the way I worked and did things. Initially I was concerned that my new lecturers at the university would potentially not be on board with that however this hasn’t been an issue.
How does study / life at the university differ from study / life at a partner college?
So far I have found that students are given more independent study time. This is pretty much accepted at this stage in the third year and the last two years have helped prepare me for this transition.
Have you done any extracurricular activity you feel has helped you prepare for the step up from college to university?
Yes…I have been working with clients, working on my own independent films, taking advantage of networking opportunities and entering my own films into established film festivals such as the Welsh Independent Film Festival, the Tribeca film festival New York and Cardiff film festival to name but a few. I have also won an award through the Bridgend Business Forum for Business student of the year which was quite an exciting opportunity for me.
What do you hope to do next? Do you have any particular career ambitions?
I’m really hoping I can secure an internship or become a documentary film maker or self-shooter.
Would you recommend the route you have taken by studying a higher education course in a local college and then the top-up year at one of our USW campuses?
I would recommend both. The two years at the college provides you with both practical and vocational experience putting you in good preparation for the third year.
Did you claim the £500 USW ProgressionBursary? if so how did you hear about it?
Yes, I did claim the bursary and the £500 is going to come in handy. I attended a progression event at the ATRiuM in the second year of my course and we were told about the bursary then. I also received an email from the university too promoting the bursary. After I applied for the top-up I received a link to apply for the bursary. It’s really easy and I would strongly recommend other students to apply if they are eligible to do so.
What have you, or do you plan on spending your bursary on?
C: The money will come in handy for my final major project which is based around ‘dark tourism’. The film production will require me to travel to various parts of the country like Lincoln and Gloucester and the money will certainly help go towards my travel costs.
Any thing you’d like to add?
Like anything, the more you put in, the more you get out. I feel really grateful to be on the course and to be able to do what I enjoy so I’m really trying my best.