Get to Know: ScreenSpace student & Video Producer Michael Shaw
By Danny Kelly
28 June 2021
Time flies! Our very first cohort of BA Content, Media & Film Production – ScreenSpace students completed their studies this month and are busy preparing themselves for roles in various parts of the creative industry. This week, we catch up with 22-year-old Michael Shaw who has hit the ground running, working with clients as a freelance video producer and director.
Applying learnings from the course, Michael offers end-to-end bespoke content plans for businesses and charities, elevating their social presence through targeted campaigns. So far he has collaborated with companies such as Panasonic, Guide Dogs UK and Twitter, the latter of which are an industry partner on the course.
Now approaching our fourth intake in September 2021, MetFilm School’s ScreenSpace is excited to offer its newly approved BA Film & Screen Business. This course goes further into the emerging trends and key business skills required to navigate the modern media environment – including presentation, networking, pitching and creative entrepreneurship.
Here’s what Michael had to tell us about his time at ScreenSpace and the key to making eye-catching content…
What motivated you to specialise in short video content over traditional forms of filmmaking?
Short video content is great for social media marketing as people’s attention span when scrolling online is far shorter. I’m much more interested in commercials and marketing as it helps people, individuals and businesses succeed. This gives me far more gratification than traditional filmmaking, even though I appreciate and enjoy the artistic quality of storytelling.
What can you tell us about your course’s business plan module and the work you’ve been doing since?
The business plan module was particularly exciting for me. I joined the course specifically looking forward to it as it’s my plan to graduate with a business in place. Basically, an affordable, one-stop-shop film studio to create content for small businesses. Since the course has finished, I have been flown out to Ibiza for a content creation job for a new cocktail bar in the town, and a new client has approached me to create a commercial and social media strategy for their jewellery brand, which aims to go from 17k to 100k Instagram followers. My intention is then to take on further clients and become a studio-based production company.
Is there a particular project you’ve created so far that you’re most proud of?
My biggest client to date is a financial consultancy company. I went to Spain for a week and had complete freedom to make a commercial of the business retreat for the company’s website and social media campaign. The networking that went into getting this job was the hardest part. I had to attend several seminars, meet hundreds of people and talk about my work repeatedly. This clashed with the first week of my 2nd year of the course, but the team at ScreenSpace helped me make time around my studies.
In a time where brands are competing for consumers’ attention, what for you is the key to eye-catching content?
The first five seconds is the most important part of the content. Otherwise, it’s easy to swipe your thumb to skip past it. For me, the key to making it ‘eye-catching’ or ‘thumb-stopping’ is by introducing a character, location and/or story. Emphasising these components keeps the consumer engaged for a little while longer. Then you can reveal more and more. If you’re building the story to a climax, then people will watch it to the end. If there’s a great ending they might even watch it for a second time, which the algorithm loves.
When funds are limited, how do you get the most out of a small budget?
Use anything you can that’s free. Ask friends or family. If you’re a student, take full advantage of the kit room. I used the MetFilm School kit room for 99% of my projects and the results were great. If you have saved up some money, it’s a good idea to buy your own camera body with a kit lens. If you need a better lens for production, you can rent lenses worth £1,000 from Fat Llama for just £10 a day. Having your own camera body gives you the ability to learn how to use it in your spare time which will be useful when you need to find a certain setting when you’re on set. The rest of your budget can be saved by borrowing props from your own house or friends and using friends or students on acting courses to help out for free or lower cost.
As an end-to-end video producer, what stage of production do you enjoy the most and why?
My favourite stage is pre-production. Mind-mapping ideas, having conversations with the client, and presenting the treatment is a good feeling, especially when they approve the plan. The best part of the planning is when the team can bat ideas back and forth. At this point, everyone on the team is getting excited about the production the closer the day gets.
How has your course at ScreenSpace been useful in kickstarting your career?
Working with industry partners such as MTV, Twitter and Guide Dogs has been a great experience. The branded content I’ve made for these huge-scale businesses has given me material to put in my showreel and display on my website, helping me land new clients. The networks and connections I have made on the course, and with the tutors, have been very useful in kickstarting my career, and I use my classmates for projects where I need an extra pair of hands on the camera or sound. This has allowed me to take on bigger jobs while hiring people I know and trust.
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone collaborating with a brand for the first time?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn as much as you can about them and their brand. This type of business works well for those who thrive on impressing your clients and making them happy, so put your whole heart into every project and the results will be good.