IW23 Launch Day Highlights

Tuesday March 7, 2023

We began our 17th Confetti Industry Week with some top tier guests, including Confetti alumni now working successfully in the screen industries. The Do It For Real: Media session was an insightful discussion expertly chaired by our Head of Talent Development, Alison Whitlock.

Graduates who joined us for the sessions included Freelance Camera Technician, Cameron Furnival Watling, Layout Modeller at Jellyfish Pictures, Eleanor Green, and Esports Production Manager/Multi Skilled Operator at Tell Media, Clarice Rose Bishop. Guests discussed their career paths, how their courses informed their next steps, new skills and experiences post-Confetti, and the importance of networking.

“The facilities, industry contacts and guest lectures you get access to as part of Industry Week really supported my growth as a film maker. You get plenty of hands-on experience with intimate lectures giving you the quality 1-1 time needed to progress and learn. Without them, I wouldn’t have helped film ‘The Boys In the Boat‘ directed by George Clooney and ‘The Beekeeper‘ with Jason Statham” – Cameron Furnival-Watling, Alumni BSc (Hons) Film Production Technology

Read on for more of our top picks!

ProjectAir – Youtuber

The content creator behind ProjectAir, James Whomsley, covered the route a single YouTube channel took to get started, grow and eventually hit millions of views per month, along with what it’s like to be a full-time YouTube Creator working on high-quality, low-volume uploads. Project Air, showcases James’ work building experimental vehicles. From cars and boats, to aeroplanes, rockets and even an electric hovercraft with a jet engine. Each video tells a story of how well each project works, or doesn’t work (sometimes with catastrophic results!).

James covered his early beginnings dabbling with his first YouTube channel, and the trial and error he went through to find his niche. He detailed his passion for engineering, which he initially felt unable to pursue due to his dyslexia with numbers. James explained how he drew on inspiration from other creators like FliteTest, eventually becoming editor for their website.

“I first looked to videos that inspired me, thinking to myself, I’d like to work for one of these guys one day, how do I get their attention? I soon came up with a strategy of posting my videos within articles on their website. After doing this for a while, they got in touch and asked me to write for them. Before I knew it, I became editor for their website.”

He also discussed the impact of his university experience, the struggle to make ends meeting earning $40 an article and how it ultimately led to him looking for a “proper job”. Thankfully, James stuck to his guns, his persistence eventually paying off. Here’s what 1st Year, Level 3 VFX and Animation student, Clay Peterson, thought of the session:

“I think the best advice was focusing on making content about the thing you enjoy, rather than trying to cater to what other people want or what you think they want. It was interesting to hear about the evolution of his content through not one but multiple YouTube channels before landing on the one that stuck. It’s comforting to know you can take risks, and it’s inspiring to hear about all of the challenges he overcame.”

Rick Ahir – Professional Guitarist

Interviewed by BBC Radio Nottingham’s Dean Jackson, Rick Ahir let students in on what it’s like to be one of the most in demand session players around today. He touched on his relationship and experiences with artists like James Arthur, David Guetta and AJ Tracey (to name a few!) and what personal, professional and technical skills you need to sustain a life in the studio and on the road as a gun for hire! Here’s some of the gems we took away:

“I got flown out on a private jet to play with David Guetta, I was sent back economy on an Easy Jet flight. You get a taste of the high-life, but remember it’s not your life.”

“It’s natural for it to feel competitive when you are playing with other musicians but don’t let that intimidate you. Know what you’re good at and what you bring to the table and have confidence in that.”

“Don’t always think you have to do it alone – even if you don’t have a vocalist, get some people together and start jamming. Just put yourself out there.”

How he learns to play a song – “practice playing by ear as much as you can. Best case scenario, you’ll get the track broken down with individual guitar parts. Worst case scenario, you’ll simply be given the track to mimic what you hear. This happened once to me at a Harry Styles rehearsal and I was given nothing in advance. It’s essential being able to do it by ear and fast. Hone your craft and it will pay off.”

Sister Bliss – Dance Music Artist

Prodigy Manager, Nick Halkes, delivered an insightful interview with one third of legendary electronic dance act Faithless. The group took over the dance scene in the mid-nineties with iconic tunes like ‘Insomnia’ and ‘God Is A DJ’. The session delved into her career as a classically trained musician who went on to become a DJ, electronic artist and composer. She shared her experiences starting off in the industry and working with independent labels. Sister Bliss spoke on the pay gap she observed across her career and the lack of female DJ’s in the music scene.

From handing out her records on the street to selling over 15 million albums across the globe, the artist’s story inspired our packed Metronome venue. She demonstrated the strength of the trio and the different elements each member brought to Faithless allowing their debut album to be made in just seventeen days. Also, the immense success selling out arena’s and performing at Glastonbury. She recalled the challenges that came with being a devoted artist including the long periods away from home and the toll this has on relationships. Sister Bliss discussed what her career entailed after the dance group broke up as she ventured into the TV and film industry. As the session ended, she reflected on the ‘ridiculous accidents’ spanning her life, like meeting vocalist Maxi Jazz, connections that have lead her to where she is today.

“Keep on keeping on. If you want longevity in this business, you have to carry on. You need good people to look out for you” – Sister Bliss

“Artists need to create their own momentum” – Nick Halkes

“It was a great person to have talk to us, she has a history in the music scene and is able to talk so highly about the music industry. The advice I learnt from her is to be really confident about the scene you are in”- Jonah Radford, Level 3 Music Performance and Song Writing student

He Sun – VFX Supervisor

Esteemed Art Director and VFX Supervisor, He Sun, whose credits include The Lion King, Maleficent and The Mandalorian, spoke to students about virtual production, an emerging VFX technique and an innovative replacement for greenscreen. The technique makes use of massive, curved LED screens to create photorealistic backdrops, overcoming the need for outdoor locations or extensive physical sets. The venue for this event (Confetti X) was fitting for this event, as X itself has virtual live production capabilities drawing on Unreal Engine and the content creation studio’s 10m x 4m 4K LED video wall with LED wings!

He Sun, who’s career started working on video games such as Goldeneye 007 and the earliest iterations of PlayStation VR, has gone on to establish the VFX department of Rebellion Film Studios based in Oxfordshire. His more recent work includes directing a live concert for Norwegian producer and DJ Alan Walker, which amassed over a million views within 24 hours of it being uploaded.

He Sun had lots of advice for Confetti students looking to make a career in VFX production with a strong emphasis on demonstrating your adaptability and flexibility. Ebba Astill-Murray, a BSc (Hons) Film Production Technology said, ‘It’s an area that’s quite new to VFX and so it’s something we don’t know a lot about. It makes a big difference to have someone who’s got experience talking about it.’ 

Richard Graham – Television and Film Editor

NTU alumni, Richard Graham has worked his way up the ladder achieving greatness in just a few years. From community-based projects to working for Netflix and the BBC. His rapid success stems from his dedication and love of his craft as well as putting in the extra hours. The Editor showcased his extensive career that has ranged from commercials, documentaries and programmes, to feature films and music videos for the likes of Ian Brown.

Richard educated students on the importance of having knowledge on composers and finding music to compliment scenes. He opened up about the hardships that come with a career as Editor, from gruelling hours to strict deadlines. He highlighted the integral communication needed between Editor and Director to ensure the script is followed. During the session, we watched some snippets from his biggest projects to date, including The Capture and The Long Song, to observe the editorial decisions he made as Editor. Richard was candid with the audience, telling them he is “still learning even now”, and emphasised how this line of work requires creative thinking every day. He also recounted the many regular jobs he’s had working in bars and shops before getting his big break years later.

“Be prepared for failure as well as success.

“Work breed’s work. Put yourself on the map and people will notice you at some point.

“Be very conscious about your health and look after yourselves”- Richard Graham

“It was a pretty useful session. It definitely highlighted the pros and cons of editing in the industry” – Lillie Ball, Level 3 Film and TV Production student

Are you interested in attending events like Industry Week as part of your studies? Book onto an Open Day to find out more about our offer at Confetti.