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FilmPart of Humanities

Ben Robins BA Film, 2016

Writer/Director at shortFLIX for Creative England & Sky Arts

Ben Robins's Photo

All the way through my A-Levels I knew I wanted to study Film, and Southampton had one of the best academic departments for it in the country.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

All the way through my A-Levels I knew I wanted to study Film, and Southampton had one of the best academic departments for it in the country, so it was sort of a no-brainer. Through some odd chain of events, it was the first prospectus that I got hold of, then the first university I got excited about and one of the first I ended up visiting too. I’m not one for jumping on the first thing I see usually, but everything seemed to just click. I guess you could call it destiny. Or, the pull of a great course, a lovely department and one of the best cities in the south.


What were your Southampton highlights?

In a nutshell: finding friends I could call family, getting a crazy amount of academic and creative support to try out some mad ideas, like building a student film festival (which I hear is still running - UoSSFF represent!) and, most weirdly of all, being cast as an extra in Mission: Impossible 5, which was shooting nearby when I was in second year.

 

What other activities did you take advantage of while at University?

I basically dove head-first into as many practical societies as I could. I wrote for the campus entertainment magazine The Edge for a while, and eventually became their Film Editor which got me into film festivals and screenings and other fun stuff. I co-starred in a web-series and radio show for SUSUtv and Surge Radio with a few friends which was a blast. Some jobs, like in Film, aren’t as straightforward to get into, so actually writing and making stuff was a great way of keeping my head in the game.

 

What did you enjoy most about your course?

It seems a little cliche but I always felt hugely supported. No matter what I wanted to write about, there was a smiling face behind an office door cheering me on and helping me figure out how to do it. I never felt like an idiot pitching weird ideas, because there were no weird ideas.

 

What have been the highlights of your career to date?

I know I’m still at the very beginning of the whole thing, but getting to know other filmmakers and other positive, creative people has been a massive boost. Everyone’s from hugely different backgrounds, with different inspirations and different stories to tell, but we’re all united by this bizarre, inescapable need to make stuff. And in that camp, everyone’s so supportive and encouraging of each other.

 

How did your time at Southampton help you to grow as a person and help you get to where you are now?

Aside from learning the very basics of being an adult (not burning the house down when cooking, how to correctly wash a pair of underpants etc.), Southampton was just this incredible melting pot - like its own little version of the world in miniature. It was like a testing ground for life where I couldn’t really fail. I tried really random stuff like rock climbing and Buddhist meditation just because it was there and accessible, and then bit by bit, I worked out the stuff I wanted to stick with, and the stuff I didn’t. In a space like that, you kind of find your tribe, and immerse yourself in it. I found Film, and just kept digging deeper and deeper.

 

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?

Be as open-minded and positive as possible. Give things a go, chat to newbies, be enthusiastic about what you’re into, and I can guarantee without a shadow of a doubt, you’ll find people who are equally psyched about it. Don’t worry about being ‘cool’, make your own uncool.

 

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector?

Make stuff, and make stuff that’s 100% you. Don’t worry about showing how technically great you are, or how marketable your stuff is. Make something that you want to make, that only you could make. Then do it again. And again, and keep doing it. Be patient, be positive, put yourself forward, and the rest will follow. In Film, the only real certainty is uncertainty.

 

 

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