We recently caught up with Film alumnus, Arnold Voysey, who has recently created his own production company called ‘Uncut Artist’, and worked as a Location Marshall on Avengers: Age of Ultron. Arnold gives a really great insight into the UK film and television industry, and shares his tips on how to break in and starting your career.
Where has your career taken you since leaving Kent?
During the summer after the first year of my BA Film degree at the University of Kent, I worked as a Location Marshall on the Marvel Studios film Avengers: Age of Ultron, and then after my second year I worked as the Production Runner on the Kudos television drama, The Tunnel, which were really fantastic opportunities that allowed me to experience working in the industry at the same time that I was studying.
I graduated in 2016 and after having worked on set, I really wanted to work in a full time role in London. In September, I started working as an Administrator at ScreenSkills (a charity that supports the screen based creative industries), and in 2017 I started working as the High End TV Coordinator, where I was responsible for supporting the work of the High End TV Skills Fund and the crew that work in various roles on television drama productions across the UK. In 2018 I started a new job at the British Film Institute in the Film Fund, where we support the development, production, distribution and exhibition of films (and also lots of other funds, such as the BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund and the Young Audiences Content Fund).
I currently work as the Operations & Database Manager, where I am responsible for managing the operational processes for each of the funds and over the past year I have helped with the management of the Culture Recovery Fund and the Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Since I graduated in 2016, I have directed 3 short films and I studied a degree in Directing Commercials at the National Film & Television School, which was a really fantastic opportunity to learn more about the commercial industry in the UK.
You mention having worked a couple of summer jobs – how did find out about those opportunities?
When I was a student in my first year, I talked with the Kent Film Office about my ambition to work on film productions and it was through their connections with productions shooting in Kent that I was interviewed and employed to work on Avengers: Age of Ultron. The next summer, it was honestly from sending out hundreds of emails to production crew who work on television dramas (IMDb is the best place to look for crew) that led me to getting offered an interview and them employed to work on “The Tunnel”. It was an amazing opportunity to get to work on film sets in the summer breaks, as it allowed me to apply my knowledge about film that I was learning from my degree towards working in the film industry.
How do you feel your time at Kent prepared you for your career in the industry?
It was because of the University of Kent (and the School of Arts) that I learnt about the film and television industry. It was from my connections and advice from my lecturer to contact the Kent Film Office that I managed to get my first job on a film set. I feel that the academic focus of the degree provided me with an amazing knowledge about the history of film (in the UK, Hollywood and across the world) and that without this knowledge, I would have missed out on having an understanding of how the film industry began and about what advances in technology and creativity have been made over the past century of making films.
Where would you recommend current film students looking for similar placements/opportunities?
I would definitely recommend that sending emails to people who are working in the industry and who are in the department that you are most interested in being a part of would be a great way to start networking. The best websites for finding crew are IMDb and The Knowledge, but also watching the end credits of films and television dramas is a great and easy way of finding out who is working on which productions and in which roles. I would recommend that you look at the opportunities provided by ScreenSkills, such as the Trainee Finder scheme and to also look at opportunities at BFI Film Academy, BFI NETWORK and your local Film Hub. Also, I had such a great experience at the National Film & TV School, I would definitely recommend that you take a look at the courses that they run in case there is anything that interests you.
What advice would you give to a prospective film student, or current film student about working in the film industry?
I would want to reassure students that the UK film and television industries have grown a lot over the past decade, due to the talented producers, writers, directors, actors and crew who are working in the UK and also because of the Film Tax Relief, which has attracted a lot of large productions to shoot in the country. My best advice would be to make sure that you have a solid knowledge about the departments and roles that work across film (the ScreenSkills website has a great overview of each of the roles) and to also be aware of the different roles in film and television, whether you are working in development, production, post-production, distribution or exhibition, as they are each very important stages that require different skills. Importantly, if you want to be a writer, director or producer, then start making your own short films right now, as these will be the calling card for you to start talking with executives at production companies.
What was your favourite module during your degree, and why?
It was actually the module ‘The Gothic in Film’ that I found the most interesting, as it explored the trend within Hollywood film that began in the 1940s with the cycle of ‘Women’s Gothic’ films that had similar themes, narratives, characters, visuals and tones and later developed into the ‘Gothic’ style. The reason why I found it so interesting was because of the way this style had evolved from literature into cinema and how the trends had recurred not only in selection of films that were all made within a few years, but also how the “Gothic” style is still at the core of lots of films and television dramas that are being made today.
What’s your favourite memory from your time at Kent?
I really enjoyed getting to be a part of KTV and working on our student features films and short films. It was amazing to have been involved with over 100 students who were passionate about filmmaking (and films) and to have learnt about the filmmaking process together by making films. The students at KTV where studying a wide range of degrees so it was really nice to get to meet with lots of different people and to work together on the massive goal of making a film. We would screen our films at the KTV Film Festival and they were always really fun and a great way to celebrate the end of the year.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
The scale of the shoot (with more than 100 crew on set) of Avengers: Age of Ultron was really exciting and on The Tunnel; it was really interesting to get to work on blocks of a shoot, where new crew would start and finish and you would get to see the different approaches to filmmaking. I really enjoy getting to work in the Film Fund where we support the first feature films of exciting writer/directors such as Francis Lee, Rose Glass and Michael Pearce while also getting to support the new work of talented writer/directors such as Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Clio Barnard.
Have you got any upcoming projects or news you can share with us?
I have recently setup a new production company called ‘Uncut Artist’, where our focus is on supporting the work of talented writer/directors across the UK. We have started the development of our first slate of films and we are looking forward to going into production of our first film in October. At the BFI, we are looking forward to launching the UK’s Global Screen Fund next month and continuing to support emerging and established filmmakers through the Film Fund.
You can find Arnold on LinkedIn, Instagram and IMDb to keep up to date with his latest work.