Some six billion pounds was spent in 2022 on film and high-end television production in the UK. This is the highest ever reported and 1.83 billion pounds higher than the year before. The British Film Institute also reports that there were skill gaps in the industry, proving that creatives in the field are in demand. Whether your interests lie in costume design, specialist hair and make-up, special effects make-up, or props and modelmaking, programmes at Buckinghamshire New University (BNU) will ensure you are ready to fill the gap and thrive.
The university has designed its programmes to support a fast-growing industry. Most staff members have industry experience and can impart relevant and current information. A dynamic guest lecture series provides BNU students with more insights. Dr. Johnny Issapour, Course Leader for MA Special Effects for Film & TV, adds that his contacts have confirmed that BNU graduates are showing the necessary specialist knowledge that adds value to the industry. “We have taught special effects for over 20 years in different institutions and have developed close links with the special effects and animatronics sector of the industry, with some former students now working within SFX and animatronics companies,” he says.
The skills you gain from the MA Special Effects for Film & TV are versatile. “In addition to the growth within the film and TV and entertainment sector, SFX props and modelmaking and animatronics are being used within other industries,” says Issapour. “For example, the medical profession is using biomechanics for prostheses that look and move realistically and is investigating ways in which animatronics can be used to teach the deaf to lip read or to train surgeons.”
BNU also ensures that you are career-ready by creating an environment that is akin to the industry. There is an emphasis on practical skills and professional etiquette, according to Emma Croombs, Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Hair and Make-Up for Film and Performance programme. This includes helping students develop their portfolios, online presence, interview techniques, and more. “The course is intensive and structured to mimic industry standards and expectations,” she says. “Students are encouraged to design and explore techniques to support their development. Modules and assessments are designed to actively mimic real-life scenarios and industry protocols.”
In the past, the industry has been criticised for its lack of diversity, something Croombs says they’re actively addressing today in BNU. “Training addresses all skin and hair types, and the correct terminology and protocols are implemented and observed,” she says. “Different cultures and ethnic fashions and identities are researched and incorporated into our module schemes of work.”
The BA (Hons) Hair and Make-Up for Film and Performance is a two-year accelerated bachelor’s degree. Students are trained quickly to fill the growing need for professionals thanks to the boom of streaming services such as Apple, Netflix and Amazon. For instance, Harriet Simmonds went on to work with Netflix, Apple TV, Channel 4, Amazon and theatre after graduation. The accelerated pace does not mean that you miss out on vital lessons or pro masterclasses. “You get to dive deeper into the theory side of the makeup industry while also learning the practical,” she says. “You get the research and theory to back it up. It’s made me feel more knowledgeable about my work when I am designing.”
This bachelor’s programme has an overall student positivity score of 89% in the 2023 National Student Survey, while the BA (Hons) Costume Design and Making is ranked #9 in the UK within the Fashion and Textiles cluster of The Guardian University Guide 2024. Costume design and making is a highly successful standard programme where you are encouraged to consider both the screen and stage. Like all BNU programmes, the programme equips students with practical skills and techniques to become thinking practitioners.
If you are looking for a postgraduate degree that allows you to explore wigs, hair and make-up as an art form, join the MA Wigs, Hair and Make-up for Fashion and the Arts. BNU has new programmes starting in September 2024, which include the BSc (Hons) Animatronics Design and BA (Hons) SFX Props and Modelmaking for Film and TV, which are fast-track, two-year degrees.
BNU programmes linked to the film and TV industries within the School of Art, Design & Performance, have teaching split between the High Wycombe Campus and the BNU teaching base at Pinewood Studios, which is one of the most iconic creative hubs in the world. Students will have access to professional standard equipment in BNU’s workshops, and the support of a team of passionate technical staff.
With access to the best facilities, hands-on learning, and experienced staff members who share their wealth of contacts, BNU creatives are set up for success. Many graduates land a job in the industry soon after they get their degrees. “I believe we got taught and prepared very well for what the industry is like. We got taught about dealing with people, communication on set, money, being self-employed,” says Simmonds. “I got my first job because my lecturer put my name forward to a designer. Since then, I have worked with the same designer three times. That job is what set off my career in being a makeup trainee.”
To learn more about Buckinghamshire New University, click here.