Graduate profile – Christopher Briggs

Being able to get my hands on a camera and get stuck in with filmmaking was the best feeling in the world. Writing and making stories then being challenged by fellow students and lecturers was transformative.

What are you doing now?

After I finished with a First in Film BA from the University of Kent I knew my goal was a Masters at the NFTS (National Film and Television School) I made for the big city and lights of London. I had no one to fall back on financially so I had to make it. I joined the hundreds of thousands that flock here for opportunities like the lepers did for the Cathedral in Canterbury hundreds of years ago. It was tough and I was barely making ends meet, but every night I thought about that masters. Eventually my hard work paid off. I now work full-time job at the Harrods bookshop and was recently promoted to Luxury Book Seller. Alongside this I’m studying fashion with London College of Fashion (UAL) and Institut Français de la Mode (IFM). Just before Christmas I had an interview with the NFTS and got accepted onto the Certificate in Filmmaking. I’m so excited that I get the chance to study with the best and brightest in both fashion and film!

What made you choose your course, and Kent?

I picked Film at Kent because I believed and still do that it’s a fantastic school for film. It ranked highly and when I spoke with lecturers it seemed like a place I wanted to be. I went to Kent on a college trip back in 2015 and I was like a cat being distracted by a light. The range of practical and theory modules and the opportunity to use the studios and facilities was a great opportunity. At one point studying at Kent seemed impossible for me, but the opportunity to study film was a desire that thankfully was to powerful for me to deny. I took a chance at Kent and it definitely worked out.

Which aspects of your degree did you enjoy the most, and why?

I’m not the best academic but I grew from learning about film theory, as it forced me to read and learn knowledge that I may have otherwise passed up on. Being able to get my hands on a camera and get stuck in with filmmaking was the best feeling in the world. Writing and making stories then being challenged by fellow students and lecturers was transformative. The lecturers, especially my microbudget lecturer Lawrence Jackson, were also eager to answer my questions and push me and my creativity. The technicians at the studio of arts (Heather and Dan) offered their knowledge and expertise, giving me practical advice and solutions to my naive creative questions. I was also lucky enough to apply to study abroad in my third year, in Hong Kong. Taking that opportunity at Kent gave me one of the most valuable experiences of my life that I will never forget.

Are there any aspects of your degrees which have influenced your career?

I learnt so much of the dos and don’ts of practical filmmaking. I learnt prop making, screenwriting and directing. But most importantly my failures were my best influences. Kent allowed me to make mistakes and boy, was I scared to make mistakes but that’s how I learnt. I encourage everyone to try and fail because there is no better teacher. My year abroad in Hong Kong is one of the highlights of my degree. Imagine playing a video game and you die or you don’t like the way you’re playing and you decide to restart the game. Studying abroad was like playing a new file game from scratch. I could reinvent myself and I grew exceptionally – professionally and personally. It gave me a taste for travel and everything I do now is impacted by that time.

Contact the lecturers and alumnae, go to open days and see whether the courses fit you.

Did you undertake any work experience whilst at Kent?

I volunteered while studying at Kent with organisations such as Dover Community Radio, Dover Tales and Deal Radio. I volunteered my time in film roles such as directing, cameraman producing, and most of the time I felt I was a dogsbody. But I worked with local community charities, organisations, musicians and historians. I took part in music festivals, start-up promotions, local poetry readings, walking events and social media campaigns. I did a lot of what you call the pub circuit and learnt a lot with indie musicians. I met the weird and the wonderful and it made me appreciate the efforts of my grafting.

Could you describe a typical day in your current role?

I work full-time at Harrods which involves retail duties but on a higher profile – I’ve met and got to serve some celebrities! After work I have a three hour zoom class for the NFTS, some of the guest lecturers have been David Puttnam, Rachel Robey and Michelle Stein. I also study fashion part-time.

What is your favourite memory of Kent?

My final year was odd with the pandemic and lockdowns but despite this I have fond memories of the Microbudget module with Dr Lawrence Jackson. I was able to learn so much from him in terms of my approach to screenwriting. After studying abroad I went at this module differently than anything else. I guess you could I say I felt like I had grown. I loved the script I wrote for this module, the people I worked with and all the heart and soul that was poured into that project by so many. I also enjoyed spending time with the props department discussing how to create the colourful characters and working closely with the technicians to create the overall visuals with cinematography.

What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent?

Do it! The film opportunities are brilliant, and Kent have some fantastic lecturers and technicians who teach screenwriting and microbudget filmmaking. Contact the lecturers and alumnae, go to open days and see whether the courses fit you. Also, apply for a course with a year abroad and go where your heart tells you!

How would you describe your time at Kent in three words?

Ask stupid questions!

Are you currently working on any interesting projects that you would like to tell us a bit more about?

We had to create a short script for the NFTS and I feel as a screenwriter I have grown by leaps and bound, but it all begins from my foundation learning at Kent. I know now that I can take what I have done before and take it to another level. I am working on a few scripts with the NFTS so please check in on me now and then because as David Bowie once said ‘I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring’.