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The best UK boarding school for Film and Media 

Film and Media Studies are now very well established at the College with a track record of outstanding results. Good Schools Award for Film Studies were won in 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2015 and 2016. We were one of the first UK schools to offer GCSE Film Studies to its students. Combining academic and practical work including filmmaking, screen writing and film journalism these A levels and GCSEs are an exciting alternative to more traditional subjects. 

The teaching provided by College tutors is supplemented by visiting speakers and industry practitioners. This year these included a seminar run at the College by the British Board of Film Classification.

RIC students regularly progress to study Film and Media at some of the top rated universities for the subject. Skills developed in Media and Film Studies can be used to showcase a candidate’s analytical and interpretive abilities which are a useful skills set for a range of degree programmes including English Literature, business related degrees, the social sciences and humanities.

Both A level Film Studies and Media Studies are taught as both one and two year A level courses. 

Students combine Film and Media at RIC with a range of other A level subjects ranging from the traditionally academic to the more creative including Fine Art, History of Art, English Literature, Sociology, History, Graphic Design and Photography.

Ric Cinema

RIC goes to the movies 

Rochester Independent College students enjoy the industrial quality light and magic of the movies without ever leaving the campus.

The College converted a room in its newly restored building into a stunning state of the art cinema complete with a SIM2 C3X 3 chip projector and electric 10ft screen. A 7.1 surround sound configuration is controlled by a Pioneer AX4i THX Select 2 system. The new installation is an awesome combination of digital surround sound and big screen picture with a clarity and fidelity seldomly seen in the classroom.

The system also features a 50 inch wall mounted plasma screen television and is used by A level and GCSE Film and Media students as well as by the College’s residential boarders for relaxing in the evening.

Students are even able to premiere their own short films on the big screen.

Fragile Society

RIC was proud recently to host the premiere of the first film produced, directed and starring a group of our A level students. Filmed on location in the local area ‘Fragile Society’ is a bleakly dystopian vision of the future. Click here for the full movie and here for the facebook page for the film which demonstrates how the talented team of cinerats are as adept at viral marketeering and industry style promotional strategy as they are at film making itself!

Debi Berry

Full name: Debi Berry

What year(s) were you a student at Rochester Independent College?
1990-1992

What did you study at RIC?
English, Art and French

What do you remember most?
I remember designing the sign to the Art Studio in the style of Mondrian which hung proudly at the entrance to the studio for the two years we were there. Only later did Jackie Clark confess to me that she hated that sign!

What are you doing now?
Photographic Director of Empire Magazine for the last 12 years in which time I’ve directed shoots with many of Hollywood’s leading actors and directors including George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Steven Speilberg, Daniel Craig and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What has been your highest flying moment since leaving?
Directing the final cast images for the last Harry Potter film.
Persuading Mel Gibson to paint his face blue to pay homage to his role in Braveheart.
Getting Anthony Hopkings and Jodie Foster back together to celebrate Silence of the Lambs.
Being told by Tom Cruise that I shot great covers.

Donnie Darko

A Level Film Studies – intensive one year course

Is Film Studies really a soft option? An A Level that covers history, philosophy, psychology, cultural studies, business studies as well as giving you the opportunity to stretch yourself creatively is far from being an easy ride. Alongside that, you do also get to spend a couple of hours of your College week sitting in the dark watching classic films, of course. In fact, regular homework you will be set is to ‘watch more films’.

The key benefit of a one-year Film course at RIC is the amazing results that can be achieved in a year. In fact one student last year managed an A grade in just two terms and even he would agree that he wasn’t the most hardworking student. While A Level Film isn’t one of the ‘facilitating subjects’, it definitely helps facilitate students’ entry to top universities, with many students studying Film alongside more traditional A Levels – a typical combination might be English Literature, History and Film. A student who went on to study Physics at Cambridge also took Film A Level – he found it quite hard! In the last two years RIC students have also gone to study Film Studies at some of the top rated universities for the subject including King’s College, London and Warwick University.

Alice, 2nd year Archaeology student, University of Reading

With Film Studies being my highest grade at A Level with an A*, it definitely helped me to secure my university place

Alice, 2nd year Archaeology student, University of Reading
Jack, a recent Film Studies graduate from University of Essex

A Level Film Studies helped my other studies, especially English as the analytical skills could be applied to both areas. It also made a nice change from the facts of History and Sociology

Jack, a recent Film Studies graduate from University of Essex

The weighting of coursework is also a key attraction of Film Studies – with 45% based on two coursework units and only two exams – worth 55% of the total grade. This is a definite advantage if exams aren’t your strong point. The coursework provides students with the freedom to tailor the course to their own interests and enthusiasms. Students can choose films and topics that they enjoy, sometimes providing interesting links with their other A Levels. In recent years, coursework research has included the representation of gender in Disney films (perhaps proving that it really is a Mickey Mouse subject!); the depiction of war on film; the gothic genre; and the film scores of Hans Zimmer. The essay-based written coursework and research at A2 provides students with essential study skills and a firm foundation for the independent study required at university. Help with coursework is provided every step of the way and we expect the highest grades from our students.

If you’ve ever watched a film and thought ‘I could do better than that’, then here’s your chance. The practical coursework – making a short film at AS and A2 Level – is a popular aspect of the course. There’s no need for any technical expertise as we show you how to use the digital cameras and editing on Adobe Premiere. We also have professional lights and a green screen for creating original effects. Recent student work has included stalking doppelgangers; voyeuristic horror; a martial arts showdown; and a love letter to London. If your creative talents lie more in writing, then there is also the option at A2 to write a screenplay extract where you can really let your imagination run wild.

Amores Perros

Students enjoy the interpretative nature of the subject and the discursive nature of lessons helps students develop their confidence in offering their own opinions. Lessons are far from the ‘chalk and talk’ of more traditional schools, with the style of teaching echoing that of universities with student contributions as valuable to learning as the opinions of the teachers. The exams are essay-based so structure and style are taught to help students prepare for timed writing. A number of the teachers are past and present examiners for the specification so we have a detailed understanding of the exam requirements and can teach accordingly.

Rob Byrne, a second year Sociology student at the University of Kent and an RIC A Level Film graduate of 2012-13, said that while Film was far from being easy, it provided him with an alternative to his more exam-based subjects and helped him to develop his own analytical voice academically.

As director Martin Scorsese notes: “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds.”

Studying Film at RIC can do all of these things and gain you the grade you need for your future.

Edward Smyth

Full Name: Edward Smyth

When did you study at Rochester Independent College: 2008-2014

Summary of achievements:
Worked with the BFI, Screen South, Viola Films, CTVC, The Grierson Trust & KM Group, with films shown in cinemas including Cineworld, The Quarterhouse in Folkestone and Rich Mix in Shoreditch. Curates short films weekly for the Rochester Film Society, and was recently featured in Digital Filmmaker Magazine. Acquired funding from IdeasTap for ‘Peculiar Tales’, a series of three short films he co-created, shot and produced. Recently worked as a Runner on Kickstarter-funded feature film ‘The Fitzroy’.

Tell us a bit about yourself
I’ve been creating films since the age of 11, and recently I’ve started to do it professionally. It’s cliché, but I’ve got a genuine passion to tell stories through moving images. To help realise this dream, I’ve attended over half a dozen filmmaking courses and countless masterclasses, where I’ve met the friends and developed the skills beneficial for my own projects.

What is it that inspires you?
Thanks to DSLR cameras, filmmaking has become far more democratised, and so when I’m watching films and TV, I often think “I can do that!”. Also, I’m inspired by the achievements of other young people, especially those who’ve prospered against difficult backgrounds, which encourages me to make the very best out of my opportunities.

What would be your top tip for other pupils hoping to follow in your path?
Start making short films with like-minded people, and try to build a community of student filmmakers locally. Apply to filmmaking courses, such as the BFI Film Academy, and submit your work to festivals. Offer your services towards other films in any way you can. Critique your own work and that of other filmmakers, so you know how to improve. Most of all, be creative and open-minded, make the best from bad situations and learn from your mistakes!

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