Leeds School of Arts

Student talent model helps university gain regional reputation as top film and TV educator

Samantha Babrovskie, Senior Lecturer in Production Design, talks about Harrogate Film Festival.

Bathroom shot from a film scene

The Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University works mutually to offer students experience as well as supporting production companies in sourcing local talent for art department roles.

Samantha Babrovskie, Senior Lecturer in Production Design, says this approach has led to Leeds Beckett University gaining a great reputation as film and TV educators in the region.

She said that screening student films at events such as Harrogate Film Festival further enhances the university’s profile within the industry and allows students to showcase their own work.  

Here, Samantha discusses how Yorkshire is now a thriving filming location and the impact of encouraging students to gain valuable industry experience during their studies.

Production Designers create the visual worlds the characters we see on screen exist within, either by creating physical studio sets and scenery, or adapting existing locations.

The Production Designer is responsible for the design concept of the sets but heads up a large team who then work collaboratively to bring the designers vision to life. An art department is made up of Art Directors, art department Assistants, Concept Artists, Graphic Artists, Drafts People, Props Makers and Buyers, Set Decorators, Scenic artists, and Construction teams.

At the Northern Film School, students specialising in Production Design learn, and put into practice, the full design process from script to screen, from concept drawings, mood boards, technical drawings, and models, through to the building of studio sets dressing locations, and buying props and furniture. Working through the full set design process the students gain the key skills which are transferable to the many different art department roles after graduating.

During their studies, students are encouraged to gain valuable industry experience. We collaborate with Film Buddy, who work with our students in placing them as art department trainees on TV and Film productions.

Most recently our Production Designers have worked on BBC’s War of The Worlds and ITV’s Victoria series through this initiative. Many of these productions are Yorkshire based, which is a thriving filming location, for both feature films and TV drama, and so provides work experience and entry level art department opportunities after graduating.

Many of our students, and alumni, have worked on The Duke, Official Secrets, Swallows and Amazons, Last Tango in Halifax, Emmerdale, Happy Valley, and Victoria (TV) which were all Yorkshire based in terms of the production base and shooting.

Being a film school based in such an industry focused location like Yorkshire, works to mutually offer students experience and gain further skills, as well as supporting production companies in sourcing locally based talent for art department roles. This has gained us a great reputation in the region, as film and TV educators, training the next generations of specialist practitioners in the screen industries.

Outside of Yorkshire, our most recent student and alumni art department credits include features, Colette, The Nutcracker, the Four Realms, Fast and Furious-Hobbs and Shaw, Spiderman: Far From Home, and Hope Gap and Ammonite. TV includes Friday Night Dinner, The Witcher Boys which is due for release later this year, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, and Intergalactic which is currently in production.

With the Northern Film School moving into the new Leeds School of Arts building next year, Production Design as a specialism will continue to go from strength to strength with the new facilities, specialist teaching rooms, and the launch of a new BA (hons) in Set Design for Screen and Performance in 2022.

film setting

This photo is taken from final year BA graduation film Cut Throat.

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