Connecting with Industry

 21 September 2016

By Paul Smith, Head of Media and Performing Arts, South Essex College

As a Creative & Cultural Skills Leadership College, securing work experience and opportunities to engage with industry professionals for our students is at the heart of all our creative courses.

It’s vital students experience what it’s like to work in this varied and exciting sector. Live briefs, assignments with national and local companies, work experience placements, making contacts with businesses and employers - it’s all part of the package!

Year on year, South Essex College students take part in some fantastic industry focused projects and 2015-16 was no different.

Dance students were extremely busy making the finals of a national dance competition organised by popular milkshake chain, Shakeaway. They also used their talents, along with Music and Performing Arts students, performing at College events throughout the year including the Christmas lights switch-on ceremony in Grays, our summer beach party at a local theme park and Southend Carnival.

End of year shows always provide students with the perfect opportunity to exhibit their work and speak to industry contacts. This year students took park in prestigious London exhibitions including New Designers, D&AD New Blood and Free Range as well as successful College shows.

It’s essential for students to get involved with their local communities too.

Drama students devised a performance piece to warn young people about the dangers of cyber bullying. They then performed this to 25 schools in the local area, educating 5,000 9-12 year olds in two days. Music students joined up with the national initiative ‘Learn to Play Day’ and offered free instrument lessons at a specialist music store in Southend as well.

Music and Production Arts students also had the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals at Village Green, a popular community arts and music festival. This has led to numerous further employment opportunities. 
Guest talks are key - it’s extremely important that students get an insight into industries related to their course from real life professionals. A highlight of our talks programme last year was Fraser Maclean, an animator who worked on films such as Space Jam, Tarzan and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Animation and Games Design students received lots of tips from him and were able to ask questions on the best ways to enter the industry.

Many media students flew to LA this year to learn about the multimedia industries. The students spent a week in the City of Angels visiting various famous studios, they even went to CBS Television City and watched an episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden being filmed. The Californian trip also included private tours of the DreamWorks and Disney Animation campuses to learn about production. Our students had access to some extremely confidential concept work for upcoming films and took part in workshops with the NoHo Arts District plus Tracy Burns and Allen Simpson, teachers of improvised comedy to the likes of Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks and Google. All in all an amazing experience.

Here's to another busy, exciting, industry focused College year for South Essex College!

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