We Are MA: Emmaalouise Smith, MA Moving Image and Sound
Emmaalouise Smith completed her MA Moving Image and Sound in 2018. We catch up with her to discuss her MA experience and how her practice has developed.
What drove you to study MA Moving Image and Sound at NUA?
I’d been in Norwich for a couple of years after living in London, where I’d had the chance to start building a body of work with both stills and moving image mediums.
I’d gained print publication, and had short-films broadcast worldwide. I’ve always done extremely well at film festivals within the experimental film categories, and I was keen to expand on my film aesthetics into more of a narrative world. I joined the MA in Moving Image and Sound at NUA part-time, because I wanted to dedicate myself in generating new work in the genres I aspired to.
Can you tell us a bit about your practice and how it’s developed?
I am very much a mixed medium practitioner. Photography is an important aspect to my work, although I’ve never been taught the medium, and I often find myself employing photographic techniques within my moving image. I am a writer-director, a visual storyteller, with a strong interest in the traditional approach to filmmaking. Colour and texture are key themes of exploration, embedded within my personal style. Since graduating from MA Moving Image and Sound I have seen my grad film Two Tickets, Please? travel the festival circuit, having gained Official Selection at The London Short Film Festival earlier in the year.
I am now a full-time freelancer and have been commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of short portrait documentaries. I am also a representative for the arts with a regular slot on Radio Norfolk.
I am represented on the BAFTA Crew roster for the second year in a row and the programme is supporting me in the pre-production of my next film project – which is entirely Norfolk-based (and I’m extremely excited about!). My photography sideline isn’t doing so bad either; I’ve just been shortlisted as a winner of the British Journal of Photography: Portrait of Britain 2019 which culminates in a UK-wide exhibition and a beautiful book produced by Hoxton Mini Press.
Can you tell us about your journey from NUA to working freelance?
It has always been my ambition to become self-sufficient in the film industry. I’d been hanging onto a part-time job for a while, but having worked hard to continue churning out personal work alongside commercial projects I found I’d begun to build some great contacts and collaborators I now often call colleagues of my own.
I’ve seen a huge boost in my freelance work in the past few months, I’ve had the chance to crew up on film and TV productions broadcast both in the UK and the USA, I am working as an AD and jumping from shoot-to-shoot between Norfolk and London whilst I develop my own directorial work.
"I think it's important to remember how important everyone is on a film set, I take my job just as seriously when I'm working lower end roles as in the higher commissions. "
What advice would you give to someone looking to become a freelancer?
Just keep your options open, and be resourceful with your skills. Freelancing wasn’t an option I took lightly- I am a working parent and find it extremely difficult to juggle my aspirations whilst enjoying family life.
Depending on the project, I’m genuinely happy to assist and get involved as much as possible- I started out running on productions, and I’m currently training as a 2nd. I think it’s important to remember how important everyone is on a film set, I take my job just as seriously when I’m working lower end roles as in the higher commissions.
Reflecting on your time at NUA, what do you value most?
My final masters project was a huge highlight and inspiration to me. It taught me that I can achieve what I set out to, even amongst the pressures of academic life. I value those that gave me their time and input in making it, and overall, I have always been inspired by the creative environment that an arts university brings.
At the end of the day, it’s the students and their work that drive an institution, and having that space to interact with others is something I wish I had more of an opportunity to delve into. The MA gave me a massive amount of confidence in understanding that I can push on past a student-level of working, and I definitely honed my own skills and made a few steps in understanding where I fit in on a professional level.
What do you think about the creativity at NUA and in the region?
There is so much potential for artistic collaboration, my practice often blends mediums so it was great getting to know some really amazing students of all ages and specialisms.
I spent a lot of time teaching myself skills I was interested in learning- the animation studios for example were a great place to experiment with ideas. I really enjoy the studio environment and would have loved more time working hands-on in some of these spaces. I learnt the most from my peers, from working with others, and my final film was made up of an all student-crew of both BA and MA level.