What to expect on a student film set

A student set is an exciting and inspiring place to be

With so many creative and technical minds in Oxford, there is forever a new student film cropping up on the scene. The Oxford film community can appear impenetrable as a result. But, wannabe filmmakers don’t abandon your clapper boards so hastily; getting yourself on set is much easier than you think.

Your first challenge is getting a position on a film crew. An obvious option is to just barge onto the set and throw yourself in front of the camera. However, to avoid such a desperate scene, I’d recommend answering a crew call on the Oxford University Film Foundation’s Facebook page. Whilst some crew positions require a lot of pre-planning if you’re a runner, art assistant or sound recordist then you’re only responsibility is turning up to filming on time — a task that in all honesty seems impossible to most student film types.

Once you have entered the fold, you may have the good fortune of being asked to help raise money. Cue immediate alienation of all your friends once you have shared a crowdfunding link thousands of times on Facebook. Yet, this banishment to social Siberia is essential when trying to meet the goal budget as most student films require upwards of £5,000 in production costs. As this need cannot be met by a poxy student loan, most film crews turn to colleges for help — have fun drafting that JCR motion!

Another joy of life on set is denouncing ownership of your possessions for the day, as in the eyes of the film’s production designer everything is a potential prop. It’s either that or being sent to buy and promptly return clothes and the likes, from various shops around Oxford. With lots of last-minute purchases to be made you’d better invest in some trainers to survive being on set.

Rushing around Oxford is practically the basis of a student shoot; transporting equipment, scenes set across the city, dashing to the shops. Perhaps you think such tasks are beyond your remit. You’d be mistaken. With certain positions hard to fill and cast and crew members’ availability being suitably chaotic, no one is confined to their position. Take my last film, for example, I was at different points producer, sound recordist, set dresser and an extra. However, this is an easy way to learn new skills, with everyone mucking in and doing a bit of everything.

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Despite the changeable nature of your time on set, jumping from one role to the next and undoubtedly rushing round Oxford for last minute supplies, a student set is an exciting and inspiring place to be. There is a certain thrill involved in being in an environment filled with like-minded people producing something everyone on set can be proud of.