1,200 college students given unique careers insight into the international world of film and gaming

FE News article, 1st November 2023

Over 1,200 students from further education colleges around the country have taken part in a unique series of career events, focused on the exciting world of film and gaming.

Guest speakers sitting on couches on stage at the Film And Gaming Event

The events took place at five colleges – Coleg Gwent, Birmingham Metropolitan, Hugh Baird, Barking & Dagenham and City of Plymouth – and were organised by education charity The CyberHub Trust.

The students heard from Hollywood scriptwriter, film maker and executive producer, Kristin Ellingson, who visited the UK to share her experiences of the technology, film and gaming industries.

Kristin was the writing partner of Rafael Moreu, who wrote the cult classic film ‘Hackers’ starring Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller, released in 1995. This film brought the relatively new world of cybersecurity, hacking – and the need for ethical practices – into the public conscience.

Kristin now works with the AR/VR VFX studio, MetaLVX, which uses Epic’s gaming software Unreal Engine to create virtual experiences, previews, production design and special effects for film and television.

Each event featured an interview with Joel Derrick. He spoke about his background and career journey, which included many roles across the TV & film industry, as well as Tech giants NASA and ‘Lockheed Martin Skunkworks’ – from makeup artist to his current position as CEO of MetaLVX.

Students were also treated to talks from cybersecurity expert, Benjamin Franklin (from the BIT group) and police representatives from the Regional Cyber Security Units. The interactive sessions gave the young people a chance to ask questions and understand more about the many career options available in these exciting industries.

Speaking to students at the five events, and keen to share her experience, Kristin Ellingson said:

“I grew up in a very small town in Montana and I knew I loved movies but didn’t know how to get into the industry; I didn’t know the various roles available; I just knew about acting and directing. So, I started off acting and it was when I was on a set that I got to see all these other jobs that are available in the industry.

“As technology is becoming such a big part of the industry, all these young people will have a leg up on anyone else entering this field. What’s more, with the film studios opening nearby, there are lots of opportunities for people to start a career right here, on their doorstep.

“It was so exciting to meet the next generation of potential filmmakers, game makers and artists, who have the skills and abilities to take technology to the next level!”

CEO of The CyberHub Trust, Michael Klonowski, said:

“We were delighted to organise these events, which gave students at FE colleges and IoTs around the country the opportunity to hear from a Hollywood industry specialist.

“Our charity’s aim is to ensure that people from all backgrounds, male and female, and from a really diverse range of ages & cultures, can access great careers within the digital technology and cyber industries. The Trust works predominantly with young people, some of who are ‘at risk’ (of hacking, or engaging in other criminal activity) and part of our mission is to guide and support them into alternative, potentially creative careers.

“Kristin’s experience and knowledge, provided first-hand, inspired and encouraged FE students to pursue their ambitions in these industries – and highlighted some of the opportunities they may not have considered before.

“We are extremely grateful to Kristin for her time and also to the five colleges for hosting these exciting events. They provided a fantastic experience for everyone involved and we very much hope will impact positively on these students in terms of their aspirations and career choices.”

Jason Turton, Deputy Principal at Barking & Dagenham College, said:

“It was a great honour to welcome renowned Hollywood film maker/scriptwriter Kristin Ellingson to our campus for such an uplifting event. The event attracted students from diverse disciplines like digital technology and cyber security, as well as those enrolled in our creative programmes like film, e-sports, media, design, and fashion.

“These kinds of opportunities are priceless for our young learners, offering them a more nuanced understanding of the kind of rewarding career paths that the film and gaming sectors have to offer.”

Students studying digital technology & cyber security, as well as those on creative courses (including film, media, design, fashion & digital marketing) attended, alongside a range of stakeholders including local government & law enforcement representatives, film and documentary makers, studio executives and communications & marketing professionals.

Feedback from students and their tutors was exceptionally positive. Kristin has even lined up some personal mentorships with students and some leading figures in the film industry.

Barking & Dagenham College film student Daniel (17), from Essex enthused:

“I really enjoyed it and found Kristin inspirational. I’m passionate about film; the best bit was Kristin talking about the films she had made, Hackers and the Motion Capture (MoCap) process used to make the movie Avatar.”

Fellow Barking & Dagenham College film student Mason (16) was inspired by Kristin’s story:

“I was really inspired that you can start from wherever and work your way up, it’s more about being dedicated than about who and what you know; it’s not exclusive to rich people.”

BMet Computing and Cyber Security student Fatima said:

“Today was a great opportunity for me and other students to widen our knowledge of career pathways available within digital technologies and the film industry. I am thinking of working with Data Analytics and after listening to and networking within these inspiring speakers, I feel even more excited about my future and the range of careers available to me!”

BMet Graphic Design Student, Marek, said:

“I feel the event was very rewarding and a chance to network with inspiring professionals. In the future, I am now even more passionate about pursuing a career in music production, film or audio production.”

BMet Creative Computing Students, Khadijah and Paula, said:

“The event was very informative and gave us a clear view of the wide opportunities available to us. We have a wider understanding of so many things now including cybersecurity, AI and the film industry and know the best way of reaching our goals and behaving in a professional manner.”

Michael Klonowski also used the special events to launch the ‘CyberHub Creative Challenge’. This is an annual competition which encourages all digital, media & creative students to submit ideas for social media, video, graphic design and/or other campaign ideas. This can result in students working face-to-face with real-world experts in their respective fields, such as graphic designers, game designers and cyber experts.