Lights, camera, action

Course: BA (Hons) Film Studies

27 August 2019

Catrina Rodrigues at a photography exhibtion, viewed in a gap through a crowed, foreground blurred.

I was always very interested in the visual world as a kid. Studying film was the perfect way to combine a passion for photography with movement and sound as well.

Before studying film, I always thought I would do cinematography, but through the Film Studies course I got interested in film curation and distribution, as well as post-production. I’m still very interested in cinematography but felt the need to have control in other parts of film creation, not just behind the camera. I also want to work in production at film festivals, helping other young filmmakers to find a voice in the industry.

The practical side of the course helped me a lot in learning how I to construct a narrative and translate it into a visual form. We also learned about editing processes, scriptwriting, and crucially – how to pitch our ideas. It’s a really useful skill to have when applying for work, or talking to people who have the power to help with funding.

In our very first week, we had a trip to the British Film Institute (BFI) in London. They have a whole day event for new university film students. We watched a film and had a presentation from the BFI's director. We also had the opportunity to network with other students.

But in terms of opportunities, going to Cannes Film Festival was the highlight because everything we had learned was all compressed into one place. ARU got us accreditation to see all the films we wanted for free, and to attend networking events. I also went to Berlin International Film Festival with some friends, and one of our lecturers kindly organised us full accreditation for that too.

Woman shooting with camera, viewed from the back in a bar, with people behind
Catrina Rodrigues standing in front of wall of photographs at an exhibition
Group posing on red carpeted stairs being photographed at Cannes Film Festival

In my second year, I studied abroad for one semester at CEU in San Pablo, Madrid, organised through the  ERASMUS Programme (The EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students), who were very helpful. Living abroad in a different culture was an invaluable experience. I learned a lot about myself, and how my course is taught there. Here they tend to focus more on film, but in Spain TV is more popular. This helped me broaden my knowledge of the industry, and not only focus on film. It was very practical, and very intense, but really, really good.

In my third year, I found a placement at Film and Video Umbrella in London, a film production company who commission many different artists and show their films internationally. This gave me insight into all the different aspects of a film production company: marketing, archives, communicating with local communities, matching filmmakers with potential audiences. It was a mix of everything I was doing.

Cambridge is a lovely city. It’s a small place, and the arts scene is not that big, but I don't think that's a negative factor. It’s easier to get to know people. There’s also Cambridge Picturehouse cinema, which is great for seeing good films, and the contacts the university have with it. One of the films I made was shown there at the end of my course. They had a Q&A at the end for all the filmmakers in the audience, so it was very good experience to be on the other end of the mic for a change.

Still from film - two hands join in the gap between two lines of grey concrete columns
Woman filming with camera on tripod

I think writing my dissertation, and the creative freedom I had in it, has definitely opened my eyes to how I can analyse a film not only through its photography. I think that’s why I’m so interested in experimental film, and why my interests started shifting to creative computing. Now I hope to combine my film-making skills with computation and creative coding. I want to take it to the next level using the different technologies we have now – playing with narrative, whether in a fiction film or the more experimental work that I’m shifting towards.

Catarina Rodrigues




Interested in studying BA (Hons) Film Studies at ARU? Visit the course page to find out more or book your place on one of our Open Days.