More about Ashley
Why did you decide to do postgraduate study?
“I did my undergraduate degree in something completely unrelated in the field that I eventually wanted to work in, and despite working in and around filmmaking since then, decided that I would like to test myself in an academic environment – and I’m really glad I did, as it helped me realise what I already knew, what I still had to learn and what I’d been doing wrong.”
What made you choose NTU?
“This primary reason was convenience, as it is a 5-minute walk from where I live and because the course came so highly recommended. As soon as I started reading about what the year entailed, how many projects we would be working on and the standard that was expected, I knew I definitely wanted to study here. My sister had recently completed a Masters in Criminology at NTU and really sung it's praises, and I’d had several friends complete undergraduate degrees there that said the same.”
What do you enjoy most about your course at NTU?
“The challenge of having deadlines come at you thick and fast was obviously stressful, but ultimately really enjoyable and hugely beneficial. It forces you to create work at a really fast rate, which means you have days to do things that you might otherwise spend weeks on, which resulted in me making 5 or 6 pieces of work that I was really proud of in the same time frame that I might have only made one.”
What do you think about the course staff – include lecturers, tutors, administrators and technical staff within this. How do they support your learning and University experience?
“I really enjoyed the level of autonomy that the staff at NTU afforded me on the course. My course leader Lyn was always there if you needed her, but always allowed you the space to work without constantly checking up on you, which was something that was noticeably different from when I studied my undergraduate degree. The technicians were extremely knowledgeable and always on hand to help, always with a level of enthusiasm that didn’t make you feel like you were bothering them, despite asking about 50 questions in a row!”
What do you think about the facilities available to you?
“The facilities were probably the highlight of the entire course for me. The course was structured to give you the autonomy to go out and complete the work on your own, and having such a huge array of incredible equipment really added to that.”
Why would you recommend your course / NTU to someone looking to study in that area?
“I would highly recommend MA Documentary Journalism for a lot of reasons. Firstly, the intensity is great in that I feel that it prepares you for life in the industry – you get to make so many different projects across various platforms, which is brilliant for helping you choose the specific field you want to focus on post-Uni. The staff are friendly and hugely knowledgeable and passionate – some of my favourite memories from the course came simply from talking to Lyn about different documentaries, and picking her brains about films that I hadn’t seen or directors that I wasn’t familiar with. It’s comprehensive in its scope, as you’re learning as much about documentary theory and history as you are the practical process of making them – as well as the legal side, pitching, pre-production and everything else. It’s literally everything I wanted from a Masters degree.“
How do you think the course, and having a postgraduate qualification, will help you to progress your career?
“I think the Masters has helped me define exactly what it is I want to do in documentary, as well as opening up my mind to new possibilities in the genre. Being self-taught, or working in an industry when you have no formal qualifications can be daunting in that you always have a niggling sense of insecurity that you’re not doing things right. Doing a Masters has completely removed that doubt from my mind, and shown me exactly what I was doing right, and what I was getting wrong.”
What has been your greatest achievement at NTU so far?
“I recently had my short film Ladies & Gentlemen: Flex Buffington accepted to The Burning Hammer Film Festival in London, which was hugely exciting. Knowing that a film I shot and edited in around 10 days will be screened amongst some huge films is daunting, but I’m so excited for more people to see it, and be exposed to someone as interesting as Flex.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I’m currently developing a short film I made during the course titled The Dreams of Running Bear into a feature, and trying to find more characters to expand the scope of the story beyond the one character. The feature will look at a community of British people who live as Native Americans. I am starting teaching documentary and journalism this year, which is exciting, but my main ambition is to carry on making documentaries as independently as possible.”