As a lifelong film fanatic with ambitions of making her own movies, it was always inevitable that Alex Howard would choose a film-related degree. It was almost as inevitable that she would choose to study in London, one of the world’s most creative film-making hubs.
“Part of my reason for studying Film Studies at LSBU was the excellent location,” Alex admits.
London is such an important place in British creative culture, and being close to Waterloo means I can visit the British Film Institute Southbank to study, watch films or attend workshops and talks. It makes networking so much easier, and develops my knowledge base.
Theory and practice
Having researched our reputation and strong performance in terms of student satisfaction, Alex was also impressed by the structure of the course itself. “It was a fair mix of theory and practice, which allows students to be creative in a critical and academic environment.”
Alex has certainly made the most of the opportunities that being in London presents to film enthusiasts, undertaking work for The 405 - a music, film and culture website. “Through working for The 405, I recently interviewed one of my heroes, John Waters,” she says. “He’s an infamous filmmaker who presented a retrospective of his work at BFI Southbank last year and interviewing him was one of many excellent opportunities I’ve been given by working for the site.”
Alex’s forays into work experience go much further than interviewing filmmakers, however, as she was recently commissioned to shoot a film and stills project to complement the release of The Town of Light, a video game from Watford-based indie game studio Wired Productions.
Film and photographs
The game is a first-person psychological thriller that focuses on the horrors of the treatment of those with mental health disorders in the 1960s and 70s in Tuscany’s Volterra asylum. Alex visited Volterra, capturing film and photographs of the derelict and abandoned buildings there, including the hospital itself.
“When shooting, I aimed to capture the haunting loneliness that resonates throughout the asylum, a feeling that the game brings to the forefront of the crumbling landscape,” says Alex. “Some of the remnants of the past we found there included newspapers, letters addressed to patients, trolleys, clothing and chairs. They pointed to thousands of stories left untold.”
The end result, an artistic project called ‘Explore The Town of Light’, consists of a film that juxtaposes the ruin of the hospital with the medical tools used on the patients, some of which have been preserved and restored by the Volterra Museum. A photographic gallery is also part of the project, allowing viewers to look deeper into the environment of the asylum.
It was a great experience, and I learned how to deal with a commission, interpret a brief and work to deadlines. I've also been able to use my knowledge of film theory and history to shape the direction I wanted to take the project in.
Alex is currently finishing her second year coursework, but once that is completed she intends to resume work on another project, Radical Softness. “I started it as part of my documentary module at LSBU,” she says, “and I’ve been encouraged by my lecturers to develop it into something more substantial. It focuses on the discourse of embracing female traits regardless of gender identity, looking at what is considered a feminine act in the 21st century and the concept of performativity.”
With some great experience already under her belt and more to come, Alex is optimistic about the future. “I hope to continue to balance my passions for film criticism and film making, and use them both to create a respected presence for myself in the industry,” she says.
Studying at a respected university in the heart of the capital will certainly add to my credibility as an artist.