Thomas Bryan

Ravensbourne were two of the most challenging, enriching, tiresome, hilarious years of my life that shaped me as an individual and as a working freelancer in the film industry.

Thomas BryanName: Thomas Bryan
Course: BA (Hons) Digital Film Production
Year of graduation: 2014

Highlights from my time at Ravensbourne

  • Getting free tickets to the National Television Awards and ending up sitting behind Joanna Lumley when she received her lifetime achievement award.
  • The brilliant guest lectures we had. Framestore came in and showed us all of the unseen behind the scene's work on the film Gravity.
  • The biggest highlight for me was the people I met at Ravensbourne, friends and colleagues who I continue to enjoy working with today.

When I decided I would follow my parents into the film industry, I looked at a wide variety of courses from universities all over the country, which all claimed to feature 'industry-standard facilities', and feature courses that were designed to prepare you to work in the industry.

However, with both my parents working in the film industry, my father being an international Production Designer and award-winning Art Director, and my mother an Art Director and Set Decorator, it meant I had spent most of my life on sets and been a part of productions. So I was already informed on what was industry standard, and what I needed to learn.

I attended an open day at Ravensbourne and was blown away at the calibre of the editing and post facilities available at the university. More importantly, I was impressed with what the course offered, what it covered, and how it gave you a taste of everything including sound and audio, editing and post, script writing, production management, cinematography and more. It meant students who didn't know what they wanted to do had a chance to explore every avenue and for students who knew what they wanted to do, it gave them a thorough education across all departments so you understood and respected what everyone on set does.

Ravensbourne helped me in more than just my education. It shaped me as a person. With it being a well-respected figure in the industry, it helped me to develop my contacts and networking skills to gain my freelance work. I also worked with lots of people across all the different departments and that really helped me develop the team and individuals that I work with today. I have an extensive list of sound recordists, camera assistants, editors, and art department contacts that I can call up to give work and vice versa.

Some of the key benefits I got from studying at Ravensbourne were developing my contacts, both clients and crew, developing my understanding of film and television and every department in those industries, and I refined my craft and skill set as a Director Of Photography to give me the confidence to continue as a freelancer in the industry.

The BA (Hons) Digital Film Production degree programme is a well-designed, thorough course covering nearly every aspect of film and television production, giving you an informed insight into each department and genre so you understand and respect what they do.

Last year, I worked as Standby Art Director on an Italian feature film, 'The Habit Of Beauty'. At the end of the year I worked as Art Director on another Feature film, 'Starfish', featuring Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt and Tom Riley, and recently I worked as Art Director on the additional shooting of 47 Meters Down (Deep Blue) an underwater horror coming out in cinemas later this year. Amongst all of that, I have been continuing my freelance director of photography work shooting music videos, promos, commercials, and corporate work, and I have a meeting this week about becoming the camera trainee with DNA films on the new Trainspotting film working alongside Oscar-winning Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle. Big things to come!

  • My advice to prospective students 
  • Enjoy yourself
  • Make the most of the incredible facilities and the people there
  • Enjoy being next to the O2 and a part of the heart of London. 
  • Go to as many industry events as you can
  • Go to as many talks and seminars as you can
  • Develop your portfolio and website early
  • Have business cards
  • Network like crazy
  • Don't do things you don't want to do because you won't engage with them and you won't learn from them.

The most crucial advice I have is try to work out what you want to do in the film and television industry early in your studies. So when you get to your second year you can start to refine yourself, your craft, and importantly make mistakes. You can afford to make mistakes at university because you learn from them. You can't afford to make mistakes for a paying client or on a job because it can damage your reputation and your career.