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BFI Film Academy 8: Matthew Kitchen

Matthew Kitchen is one of the participants on our eighth BFI Film Academy (2019). Having almost completed the academy, we asked him about how he’s been finding the academy…

A Bigger Picture of Production

The BFI Film Academy is something that I have thoroughly enjoyed so far as I have learned so much more than I knew beforehand. This is because before I started it my productions were more amateur. By that I mean that I’d press record and go. This was also shown in my spare time work because I would go out with my camera and record what was around me for my YouTube channel and even then, I never thought about how to go by filming or setting up my scene/shots properly. Ever since the filming week I now know that there is so much more than pressing a red button. Before filming every scene, a whole process had to be done to make sure that everyone was ready for the call ‘Action’ by the 1st Assistant Director. I didn’t know this before and it will improve how I produce videos in the future to make them look better and it gave me more of an idea of a professional environment and atmosphere. Learning new techniques when managing camera, light and sound has made it more fun for me as it gets me prepared for the real world and it gets me used to what it’s like when I go professional with companies like the BBC.

The week of filming was very fun and interesting because I did stuff which I never expected to do, nor would I ever get the chance to ever do again. As part of the narrative extras were needed for filming to act as victims of Mrs Rellik so I volunteered myself forward, as well as Josh. On the day of filming the death scenes I was told that my character would drink a cup of tea laced with Arsenic and that I would have to cough up fake blood and sick. To make the scene play out as realistically as possible I had to put a very off-putting mixture of lentil soup and fake blood in my mouth, surprisingly it wasn’t too bad as everyone expected it to be worse. When it came to film, I had to spit the mixture out and all down me and pretend I was dying which was an experience, while Josh spat it out on the floor at the side instead of down himself. Due to the fact we wanted safety scenes I had to do this many times through the period of filming that scene, but I bit the bullet and held on while covered in fake blood and sick and focused on the shot rather than how cold it was outside. One of the other death scenes we filmed on that day was the garden scene where Aidan volunteered himself to be tied up in a garden hose and covered in fake blood when the granny cuts his throat open. This part of the day was very interesting as I was able to work as 1st Assistant Director along side Finn and help with different shots. As well as filming, I did a variety of filming with the camera and learned how to mix sound with Bart to make sure that nothing distorted or got too loud by monitoring the levels.

Even though I’m not the biggest fan of certain aspects of media theory, Maggie’s lessons are always enjoyable as we learn something new and interesting. Even sessions about the history of film, that I already knew a lot about, I still learned something new and the passion I saw that she had for film made me more interested. John and Judith have also shown me that there is more to editing something as you must take many things into consideration. For example, I never thought about how long shots should be before they became too long. Now I repeatedly watch the products I make and think if the shot is too long. Also, because we use Adobe Premiere I’ve learned shortcuts how to make editing simpler and time effective as I used to always take the long route round editing.

Overall, the BFI Film Academy is something that if you get the chance to do you should take it up as you’d learn a lot and produce something of professional quality that you can proudly say you’ve produced as a team! As a final note, I have loved my time on the film academy as I’ve met so many wonderful people including Ally and Rosie who helped make it possible. One of my highlights of 2019 was being able to do this.