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Posted 22.05.19

Making films with The Agency

By Lauren Taverner Brown

Image credit: Chelsea Benwell, BA (Hons) Photography

Patryk Swiatczak is a second year BA (Hons) Digital Media Production student, originally from Poland. Moving to the UK when he was 16, Patryk spent a couple of years living in Leeds and learning English, before moving to the South West and deciding to study at Plymouth College of Art.

Alongside his degree, Patryk has been working with the college’s in-house creative studio The Agency, and has created adverts, promotional films and more for external clients based around Plymouth and beyond, getting paid for this client work whilst he has been studying. We caught up with Patryk in one of our film edit suites to chat about what it’s like working with The Agency.

Image credit: Ben Wheeler (Fab Lab Plymouth)

How did you choose Plymouth College of Art for your degree?
When I came for my interview, I showed the programme leader the film work I had already done and we talked about the kind of stuff I’m interested in - film, commercials and music videos. Before uni I didn’t have any formal film training, I was just working in a regular job and making films with my friends - I have a friend who is a skateboarder, so I was helping him shoot and just discovering what we could do - exploring and experimenting for fun.

During my interview, we talked about what I wanted to do, and why I wanted to join Plymouth College of Art. The staff were so helpful, I didn’t have any problems doing my application as they helped me with UCAS - there were no issues at all.

"With The Agency [...] the commercial experience is so valuable - you’re working with clients but you’ve got the safety of The Agency backing you up, and they really look after you."

What made you choose BA (Hons) Digital Media Production, rather than BA (Hons) Film?
My ambition at the moment is to become an independent filmmaker, so even though Film might seem like the obvious choice, on Digital Media Production you have a lot of chances to experiment with different media - I can do photography projects, film projects - you are given the freedom to do whatever you want to do to fit into each module. If you are smart and creative you can fit whatever you want to into your practice. For example, we are working on a module about kids TV at the moment. We were told we could create whatever we want, so I made a short film.

I am aware that becoming an independent filmmaker is the most difficult thing in this industry, but I am very ambitious and I have big visions for the future, and I am determined to make films for cinema independently.

Have you been working on any projects outside of your degree?
Yes - I have been working for The Agency, the college’s in-house creative studio, since my first year at the college. We found out about The Agency during a talk in our classroom - The Agency is a place where students can work on real client briefs for external businesses. The first job I did for them was for a charity, so we didn’t charge a fee, but the other work I have done for them has been paid. I’ve made films for Mega Reach Charity, YMCA Discovery College, Host student accommodation, and FCS Premier Card.

Tell us about your latest project with The Agency?
We worked on a big project at the start of the year, making a promotional film for student accommodation company Host. The jobs we do with The Agency are such good opportunities for professional practice, and the good thing is that you can earn a bit of money whilst getting more experience. I have learned so much from working with The Agency. One of the most important things I’ve learned is how to manage clients, and I have gained a much better understanding of the industry, as well as understanding how to communicate effectively with clients, and how to manage my time well.

Image credit: Nea Suurhasko, BA (Hons) Digital Media Production

Do you have any advice for other students looking to work with The Agency?
Yes, definitely - they shouldn’t be scared of client work, it’s worth a try, even if you only do it once, it’s good to try to fit it into your practice.

What kind of support do you get from The Agency?
Well, it’s nice to get paid for the work you do obviously! But it’s also great to get feedback and support from Kamal, the Account Manager, and clients are generally really happy with my work, they always seem to come back for more work.

In lectures you’re learning all the theoretical and philosophical parts of your subject, but with The Agency it’s all really practical. The commercial experience is so valuable - you’re working with clients but you’ve got the safety of The Agency backing you up, and they really look after you, you pretty much always get a chance to redo things if the client isn’t happy, which might not always happen in the real world. Clients are aware that they are working with students, so they know that sometimes they have to give us different feedback, but it feels like you’re in a safety zone because you have the constant support of the Account Manager.

Image credit: Marek Kawula, BA (Hons) Film

Have you got anything else coming up with The Agency?
Yes - I have some big projects coming up, including making adverts and instructional videos for a coffee company.

Can you tell us anything else about any awards you have won for your other work outside The Agency?
My film Next To You, a documentary about a nomadic, free spirited musician, was chosen as the winner won Best Cinematography at Cinefest in Middlesborough - a student-run film festival. The documentary delves into the life of unsigned musician Jamo Hope, discovering how music has saved him from hardships in his life. You can watch it on my Vimeo here.

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