This is my UCAS personal statement for applications to university (options, and critical reflections on this statement, in footer).
UCAS character count: 3,963 UCAS Line count: 46
Working with a circus from the age of ten was my first experience in storytelling; I remember ‘The Light Bulb’ was my first performance, a story of four lazy clowns trying to change a light bulb. We started dawdling and as we gained enthusiasm we grew – from idlers to acrobats – all for that light bulb. Over the next few years I learned the true value of narrative; in all the performances there wasn’t one trick the audience enjoyed half as much as that satisfying feeling of narrative climax.
Being home educated until starting art college, I was able to study my passions as they arose with the scope they demanded. Though this allowed me to research many topics in great depth, I also feel I was left with a rather unbalanced education in certain subjects. An instance of this was my fixation with dystopian and utopian literature; the writers teaching me how to say the things I wanted to say – Huxley, Bradbury and Orwell – caused me to miss the writers that were saying things I had never heard. Hence, one of the most interesting parts of my course at Plymouth College of Art became the weekly contextual studies lecture. From Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry to Saul Bass’ graphic design, we were shown a form of artistic expression and challenged to interpret it from our unique perspective. Through this exercise I was able to apply the things I was learning to a wide range of subjects, teaching me to gage the aptness of different skills for certain tasks, while broadening my artistic interests.
I enjoy working in cinematography as I feel it gives me the opportunity to enrich an already coherent narrative in a subtle but meaningful way. My first year final major project, an adaptation of a folk album, relied heavily on cinematography to communicate the themes of the source material – including the desaturated imagery, static camera, and wide angle lenses reflecting the hollow, boring, and eventually disgusting sexual relationship between the two protagonists. Moving forward I would like to apply cinematic techniques in documentary filmmaking to affect the emotional experience of the audience, and experiment with the use of emotions to paint more vivid portraits of real-life characters. My most recent passion project involved recording buskers in and around Plymouth in their typical locations. Recording the buskers live, and using uncut audio and visuals from one take, ensured a true-to-life representation of street performance, and the technical difficulties of this were an excellent learning opportunity – especially using multitrack audio recording to capture vocal performances, instruments, and street ambience separately.
Practicing analogue photography (processing and developing) allowed me explore from a chemical and an artistic perspective simultaneously. This prompted me to question artistic problems technically, and vice versa, eventually inspiring a project exploring the cognition of cinema narrative with and without subtitles, in foreign and native languages – an artistic problem, perhaps, studied with clinical method. This project was also inspired by my love of Russian cinema, which stemmed from the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrey Zvyagintsev. I intend to complete this project next summer.
Outside the realm of cinema, my twin passions are music and literature. I’m particularly drawn to the music of Bob Dylan – he heightens dark walks along crumbling coast paths in the blistering rain to already nostalgic stories of adolescent adventure. And I’m equally drawn to the writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, which seem to have the opposite effect on me, ‘Notes from Underground’ heightening every socioeconomic inconvenience to a personal attack on the ‘class’ to which I belong.
The stories I want to tell are of two views on the same thing: I want to represent everyday life, and the heroic and adventurous acts it’s saturated with, and I want to go behind the scenes with the people doing just that.
Plymouth College of Art – Film
The University of Kent – Film and Comparative Literature
Arts University Bournemouth – Film
The University of Edinburgh – Film and Television
Met Film School – Practical Filmmaking (3-Year)
I believe the personal statement I have written is an accurate representation of myself – in a broad brush sense, there’s not much detail in there. There are a few things that were particularly important to me, some of which went well, some of which didn’t – the following is a little bit on both.
My first goal was to show a passion for many mediums, not just film. This was particularly important in my application to the University of Kent, as I applied for ‘Film and Comparative Literature’. I went about this by opening by talking about my involvement in performing arts. I also tried to bring this in at the end, by talking about two of my favourite artist – Bob Dylan and Fyodor Doestoyevsy – neither of whom are filmmakers. I also mentioned my first year FMP, an adaptation of another medium, to demonstrate how I could draw inspiration from non-film works that inspired me.
My second goal was to show that I was passionate about education, not just ‘schooling’ in the traditional sense. I supported this by mentioning my alternative pre college education. And talking about research I’d undertaken outside of college.
Thirdly: I wanted to make sure anyone reading my personal statement knew I was at least somewhat politically conscious. I tried to this by dropping in “‘Notes from Underground’ heightening every socioeconomic inconvenience to a personal attack on the ‘class’ to which I belong”. I do think I could’ve put more of my political views into the statement, as they actually shape my work more so than many of the other things I’ve talked about.
Fourthly: I would’ve liked to include my interest in Russian art and cinema a little more. I did mention a few Russian creatives I draw inspiration from, but I didn’t go into any depth on my thorough fascination with the Russian view on art – and, in turn, society and reality in all its forms.
Coming out of the practice interview I could see a few things I definitely needed to improve upon. These were mainly focused on explaining what I wanted to do after university, and explaining why I thought university would help me achieve those things. Other than that, it went pretty well: we talked about cinema a lot.