I’m Lisette Johnston and I’m the Head of School at ScreenSpace.

The ScreenSpace BA (Hons) Content, Media & Film Production and BA (Hons) Film and Screen Business* courses are the degree I wish I could have done 20 years ago.

I went to university and gained a film and media degree. I did lots of unpaid work experience along the way, both at video production companies and newspapers as I wanted to work in journalism. I then did a highly practical masters course working across TV, print and online, but I still learnt ‘on the job’. In many cases employers won’t care about your dissertation, they want to know if you can shoot and edit pics of the local flower show, can read social analytics, can you run your own digital marketing campaign, do you know about budgets? To hit the ground running you need all these skills.

In many cases that means more work experience or internships. Sadly, these are often unpaid or poorly paid. As Amalia Illgner wrote in the Guardian last year, this pushes out many talented people, and access to the industry should not be about ability to pay.

Today, a degree is just part of the package. It’s an entry ticket to the theme park, but you need more tokens, i.e experience, to get on the best rides.

This is why ScreenSpace is so important. Here we merge degree programmes with highly practical industry based experience. We are building a curriculum where students are working to briefs set by our industry partners (Twitter, Karmarama among others) from day one.

Experience and education

ScreenSpace means you are making content for big brands from the outset, developing contacts but also building up a portfolio throughout your study. That has to be better than two weeks making tea in the Scotsman building over Christmas (though I did get a byline about the snow!).

The boundaries between academia and industry are increasingly blurring, and the skills you need within the creative industries are varied and constantly evolving. That’s why courses like our BA work – you are being taught by people working directly in industry. Our degrees are less theoretical and more about developing practical skills and future-proofing our students for roles that might not even exist yet.

If I had had a crystal ball in 1998, I would have learnt to code, how to edit long-form video, how to run a media production and found out more about digital marketing and pitches. I did learn all those things but AFTER my degree. While placements and internships are valuable they are not accessible to all, which is why I delighted to be heading up ScreenSpace. I firmly believe provides both a degree and the relevant skills, experiences and opportunities you need to begin a career in the creative industries.

Dr Lisette Johnston is Head of School at ScreenSpace. She likes cheese and tweets @lisettejohnston.

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