Leeds School of Arts

Creating an Advert: Dreamers of the Day

Sam McNally, 2019 film graduate, talks about how he and other students from the Northern Film School created the Dreamers of the Day advert for Leeds Beckett. Based on the T.E. Lawrence poem of the same name, Sam, along with the rest of the cast and crew, took the project from the intial spark of inspiration through to the finished film.

In the middle of my second year at the Northern Film School with Leeds Beckett I had an idea for a small series of adverts to promote the university and the amazingly talented students that are studying there. The idea was simple: a beautifully shot, cinema-style advert made entirely by Leeds Beckett students.

So, I wrote a script, asked around, found the right people to talk to and pitched the idea. I spoke to someone from marketing and they got back in touch and told me they loved the idea. We had some more meetings and then we got the greenlight to start. We were given a small budget to help with moving the kit and cover catering and me and my friend/producer Willem Evans set to work at organising the whole thing. Which was, to put it gently, total chaos.

Trying to get everything to be available on the same date was a bit of a challenge - but obviously you’re reading this, so you know we managed to pull it all together, we found the perfect gap in all the schedules, booked the equipment, gathered the hardest working crew you could possibly imagine and got everything ready to shoot. At which point, as per the laws of film production, half the actors dropped out.

In between set-ups on the shooting days we were frantically ringing any other acting students who had shown interest, and anyone else at Beckett we could think of who would like to get involved, some of the actors we only managed to get an hour before we needed them. It was a crash course in casting for sure, but a lot of lessons were learnt in those frantic hours. We had long editing process, but they were done just in time to be screened with the rest of the graduation films, and it was fantastic to see the main advert on a cinema screen.

I learnt so much during this shoot. How to better manage that many people on such a tight shoot. How to plan things properly to minimise the chance of people dropping out. Most importantly I learnt more about myself as a director, about telling stories and putting the art into everything I make, and how I can use that experience to eventually get to a place where I’m directing films. I’m incredibly grateful that Leeds Beckett gave me the chance to make this ad, it shows how much faith they have in their students to pursue their careers and succeed in them. The whole process has only served to make me more passionate about film, about telling stories and about working with the other incredibly talented people who want to do the same, the kind of talented, tireless and passionate people I met at Leeds Beckett.

Since graduating I’ve started working full time in a content marketing agency, where I get to edit, write and shoot adverts and promotional videos for companies, with the goal of being in a position where I can write and direct full scale cinema campaigns one day soon. Then when I get home I’m working with people from the advert shoot and the student films to get a new short film off the ground and co-writing feature films with Joshua Luke Cable, another incredibly talented writer and director that I met during my time at the Northern Film School. Although we’ve only just set out, I do believe that we’ll be making films that transform the world of cinema sooner or later, and it’s thanks to Beckett that I have the confidence to say that with total sincerity.

More from the cast and crew

Producer - Willem Evans and Head of Sound - Lubos Jurik

The cast, made up of performance students

Director of Photography - Alex Stagg

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