Lisa Van Hees
Before coming to university, I’d already gained a degree in Artificial Film in the Netherlands, which is where I’m originally from. However, from there I knew that I wanted to continue to discover more about the film industry but didn’t want to lose the writing side of things as a result.
It’s because of this that I knew that the University of Portsmouth was a perfect choice thanks to the Film Industries and Creative Writing course's combination of not only how films are made, but also the craft behind how they’re written, which is something that isn’t really available back home.
I was a little apprehensive at first, but once I’d made my living arrangements and started to realise that it was finally happening, I was just so excited by the prospect of discovering a new country. As soon as I arrived, I joined both the athletics team and the poetry society which I helped to set up with a few friends. Both were a fantastic way to meet with like-minded people, and I found that participating in a sport to be really rewarding as it not only improved my fitness, but it also massively helped to boost my confidence too.
My focus for studying in Portsmouth was to complete work to a more professional standard rather than simply creating stuff that I enjoyed writing. This is because, although I’d learnt many things in my first degree, I felt that I wasn’t quite ready to put myself out there and was still unsure of how I could turn something I love to do into a career. However, thanks to lecturers' emphasis on creating publishable work as well as their detailed guidance on how this can be achieved in a professional setting, it wasn't before long until I started to create pieces with a target audience in mind.
Throughout my time at Uni, my favourite aspect of the course has to be the combination of research into critical theory alongside creative work. This was because I found that I was able to apply the knowledge I’d acquired in my essays into my creative pieces too, which ultimately helped me to improve the standard of my creative pieces dramatically.
This said, the project I loved doing the most was definitely my dissertation as it combined everything that I’d learnt in film whilst allowing me the chance to pursue my desire to become a more established writer. I wasn’t sure what to write about to begin with, as I was determined to create something that I was truly happy with. Despite this, after giving it some thought, I noted the stark lack of stories based solely on the formation of friendships.
After confirming this gap in my research, I decided that I wanted to craft my own young adult story based around a group of people and the friendships that they shared with one another. For me, I really wanted to focus on the importance of each character within the piece so I decided to use the techniques typically shown within Greek mythology. I achieved this by placing a lot of emphasis on the formation of each person within the story, and what I wanted them to represent to the reader.
It was difficult to get going initially, but once I started writing, I found that the story began to develop very quickly. In terms of research though, finding academic sources about this topic was definitely more challenging, but once I’d broadened my research and started to draw my own conclusions from my findings, everything soon fell into place.
Throughout my time at Uni, I've not only developed an understanding of the importance that extensive research can have on my essays, but I’ve also gained the ability to use that to really enhance the arguments I make, which I’ve then been able to apply to my writing even outside of my studies. Being able to ‘show and not tell’ is also a very important technique for any writer to master, which I wasn’t really sure how to do at first, but through lots of reading, practice, and the added support from my lecturers, it wasn’t before long until I was using less description within my work whilst still being able to invoke emotion by using more sophisticated techniques.
Moving forward, I’m currently working with one of my lecturers, as we're in the process of publishing one of my stories I originally submitted as part of one my Creative Writing assignments – but I’m also looking to start my career within the world of publishing while I continue to add to my portfolio in my spare time. I can’t wait to enhance my communication skills even further, and I’m thrilled by the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes of some of the places where I aspire to publish my own work one day!
I'd recommend anyone interested in creative writing and film production to study this course at the University, as it captures all the techniques required to create both a compelling plot whilst covering everything you need to know to create an interesting visual story too.