31 May 2017

Meet the alumni: Emma Wilkinson discusses Swimming with Men

By Danny Kelly | Categorised in Breaking News, Alumni Interviews, Student Stories, Industry Interviews, Film News

Over the summer, as part of our special coverage of the upcoming feature Swimming with Men starring comedy legend Rob Brydon, MetFilm will be sharing a series of guest blogs from MA Directing graduate Emma Wilkinson. After graduating in 2016, Emma began an internship with MetFilm Production – the award-winning independent production company, based alongside the School at Ealing Studios. Her blogs will cover some of the milestones from her creative journey so far, including her current industry role as Director’s Assistant on Swimming with Men.

On studying at Met Film School…

I arrived at MetFilm School with a background in music and theatre but wanted to gain some experience in film. I was part of a large cohort; a 50-strong group of directors, producers, cinematographers and writers from all over the world. Coming from a tiny Home Counties town, I found MetFilm School refreshingly fast-paced, international and collaborative. After an intense year, I emerged having made two short films and two promotional videos for clients — as well as all the additional material we made for class.

On joining the Met Film Production team…

Shortly after graduating, I began working as Production Assistant at MetFilm Production, where I supported a team made up of  Anna Mohr-Pietsch, Stew Le Maréchal, and Al Morrow (the producers), and Jerry Rothwell (Director of Sour Grapes, How to Change the World). The role gave me the opportunity to work across an exciting range of material, including fiction and documentary features. When I joined the company, Anna and Stew were developing their next feature Swimming with Men.

On supporting documentary projects…

I was very fortunate that both Al and Jerry had a broad slate of really fascinating projects at varying stages of development. For projects at an early stage, I was able to get involved with pitch documents and outlines; and for more developed projects, I was happy to support in whatever way was helpful. This usually, this meant being Chief Transcriber, which included transcribing a four-hour interview with a saturation diver at the centre of a documentary, which amounted to more words than all of my undergraduate essays and dissertations put together. It’s a real testament to the project (or a real slight on my academic work), that I would still recommend the documentary material far more.

On working as a researcher…

Perhaps most significantly for me, I was also attached to a specific documentary project as a researcher, which gave me the chance to flex some creative muscles and get stuck into one particular story. The project centred around an educational pioneer, who had been at the forefront of a poetry movement in London’s East End during the 70s. The legacy of his work still thrives today, so charting the story enabled me to meet and interview a range of people who have been inspired by him over the years.

On Swimming with Men pre-production…

Prior to joining MetFilm School, I’d run a theatre company which specialised in new writing, and I have maintained an interest in the development stage of scriptwriting. When I arrived at MetFilm Production, Anna and Stew were at a key development stage with Swimming with Men, which was exciting as it meant I was able to see the script change over time — from its earlier draft stages, through to its current form as a shooting script. Although I was fairly familiar with script development in certain contexts, it was a fresh experience to be able to see it happen in a realm where the film was becoming very ‘real’; with financing and casting being well underway by the time I was involved.

And now…

Towards the end of my tenure at Met Film Productions, I was interviewed by the Director of Swimming with Men[Oliver Parker] to start as his assistant for the project. Luckily, I was able to string enough words together to not look like a total fool, and began the following week on pre-production for the film. Production is now well underway, and I haven’t crashed any cars or fallen into any pools, so from my perspective, it’s all going well.


Follow our Facebook page to read further guest blogs from Emma Wilkinson about her experience on the set of Swimming with MenFind out more about our postgraduate courses.