Thomas Scott and Alan McCracken, Course Co-ordinators

 21 January 2019

Thomas Scott and Alan McCracken were the winners of the Creative Tutor Award 2018 at the annual Creative & Cultural Skills Northern Ireland Awards. We spoke to them about their work in the department and how they've developed industry links for the benefit of their students.

"Stay in the loop with industry" Photo Credit: Simon Mills

What job do you do?

We are both Course Co-ordinators (HND in Film) at Belfast Metropolitan College.

How did you get your current position? 

Tommy: I had been working in education, teaching media production, since 2009. While doing my PhD in Film, at Ulster University (UU), I started teaching part time. At UU I taught Film Studies, Research, Media and Cultural Studies, and Script writing.

Both my MRes and Doctoral work studied American cinematic depictions of the Irish between 1896 and 1930. I presented this research at conferences, in Ireland, England, and America. 

After I completed the PhD, I got a full time tutoring job at Springvale Learning, where I was a Vocational Tutor in Digital Media. I stayed there for a year before being offered the post at Belfast Met. I’ve also worked in film and TV, in a variety of production roles. 

This chance meeting opened the doors to teaching and I haven’t looked back since.

Alan: In 2012 I completed a funded short film called Desecration. This film was screened at the Odeon Cinema in Victoria Square, Belfast. It was at this screening that I was approached by a member of the Media department at the South Eastern Regional College to talk about my work as an independent director. This chance meeting opened the doors to teaching and I haven’t looked back since.

Tell me a bit about your day to day work

Each day is very different and can often depend on the subject and level at which we are teaching. Some days we will be teaching camera skills or Film Studies in our fully equipped studio located at our E3 campus. Other days we will be liaising with industry professionals to develop links for our assessed student projects.

Last week, for example, we met with Harry Hamilton, the lead singer of Flash Harry (The Queen tribute band) to discuss a student project in which student music videos will be screened at the Flash Harry show at the Grand Opera House in Belfast in February 2019.

How did it feel to win the award?

We are proud that we have established excellent ties with industry, and are proud of the level of work our students are producing.

It was a great feeling. We are proud that we have established excellent ties with industry, and are proud of the level of work our students are producing. Being recognised for this work was excellent, as it reassured us that the course is developing really well.

What are your plans for the future?

We’re very excited as we have recently launched the Belfast Met Film and Television School. As a course team it is our ambition to use project-based learning to create graduates who can fulfil local needs. The key areas that we focus on are Film and Television production, Journalism, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics.

What advice would you give to others working in your field?

Stay in the loop with industry – Film and TV is a diverse field that develops all the time, and develops quickly. Courses need to be linked with industry so that the teaching stays relevant and students can get work experience. Look for platforms to promote your students’ work, e.g. film festivals, and make sure their achievements are broadcast.


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