12 October 2011

Meet the Alumni – James Custance

By Cassio | Categorised in Alumni Interviews

Our Meet the Alumni series is designed to give you an insight into what our recent graduates are up to and their experience at the Met Film School. 

This week we meet James Custance who studied on our One-Year Practical Filmmaking course.
Why did you choose your course at the Met Film School?

I always knew I wanted to go into film but never really thought it a possibility like a shelf a bit too high to reach. But when I received a letter in the mail from Met Film asking if I would be interested in interviewing to join them on their One-Year Practical Filmmaking course I thought it sounded like the perfect first step towards my dream career, plus looking at the letter detailing the schools location in Ealing Studios just made it sound like an even better opportunity at getting my foot into this hard to break industry.


How would you describe your time at the School?

Eventful and thought provoking. I felt my eyes slowly open to the idea of actually living the rest of my life in film and felt that with the Met Film Schools help it could also be a rather successful one. Not just because I got to work with industry professionals who themselves had worked and were still working in the industry but also once again because of the location, seeing films (and big films at that) shooting next door to my own short film felt so real, like I was only a few steps away from joining their team and being paid to do so.


What was the highlight of the course?

There were many, obviously filming two of my own shorts felt like a great achievement, and I prided myself not only on the content I made but also on how well thought out each shoot day was, and whilst Writing/Directing/Producing my own shorts I got a real chance to dip my fingers into all the pots of film making and find the area I would eventually like to concentrate on. But the idea of making my parents proud of what I had achieved when the year was over was highlight enough, you really do end up getting a lot out of a short space of time.


What were the advantages of being taught by industry professionals?

It definitely didn’t feel like I was being taught by a teacher – they say the best way to learn is to do, but then there are some points where a classroom is needed so to have an industry professional instead of a teacher that may not have lived through it would obviously have its advantages. I could ask less important questions that weren’t to do with technology or angles like average working hours in film, day to day life on a film set etc, things that someone wouldn’t likely know unless they had lived it.

I didn’t expect to graduate and go straight onto directing one of our teachers films they had in Pre-Production but in this industry, yes knowledge is definitely needed but contacts are gold dust, at the end of the day you are more likely to get a job on a contacts Film or TV show than you are to get a job with someone you have never met and only know through email, socialising in this industry is of great importance.



What projects have you worked on since completing your course?

After graduating at the end of 2008 I spent a year or so working on internships and in unpaid work experience, this is sometimes needed as it is one of the best ways to make contacts and prove how much of an asset you can be to someone’s team. I started to fall into a slot I was not aiming for in the Production side of things but was enjoying it, working for Production companies on several different shoots. I then had many runner roles on Films and TV shows once again gaining contacts.

I did lots of short shoots on TV until I got my ‘big break’ working full time through the whole shoot of the first series of the Emmy Award winning ‘Downton Abbey‘. After that I have worked full time on ‘One Day‘ (Focus Features), ‘Clash of the Titans 2‘ (Warner Bros.), ‘What to do when someone dies‘ (ITV), and the third series of ‘Whitechapel‘ which we filmed for 3 months earlier this year and I am now in Post-Production as the Coordinator with our Producer finishing the edit and getting the show delivered to ITV later this year. I hope to go onto film a few of my own projects in 2012 and am planning to pitch my ideas later this year.



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