Michelle Stein on the importance of high standards for educators

Michelle Stein on the importance of high standards for educators

“It is quite clear that since Covid, we are in a golden period for film, TV, content and audio visual production. The outlook is healthy for those students graduating around now and hopefully this will continue”. This is the positive outlook from Michelle Stein who not is only a ScreenSkills Select industry evaluator, she is a NFTS graduate, BAFTA nominated and BIFA winning producer.

She decided to become an evaluator because she wanted to help good screen courses be even better so they could benefit from industry insight. This would help themselves, their students and the industry itself. She also made clear that she is “adamant that when I am undertaking an assessment if they do not meet a certain standard then I will not be accrediting them.”

To Michelle, these high standards will bring clear benefits for educators teaching on endorsed courses. Firstly, it will help improve the numbers of applications because being an endorsed course is prestigious and that this will be used in the course marketing. Secondly it enriches the curriculum because it focuses the educators on analysing their course which in turn will help to improve it and ensure it is continually aligned with the latest industry standards.

She feels that ScreenSkills Select acts a good mechanism for showing students that the course they are studying on is vocationally orientated and is one that will give them the best chances of employment. With the level of tuition fees and student loans, and particularly for those from low socio-economic backgrounds, it is important that the course leads to employment. This is becoming more and more important as she reflects that “Studying on an endorsed course gives comfort to students that they are increasing their chances of finding work when they graduate and that they have been taught to industry-level standards. They also know that employers will have confidence that they have the skills for entry-level roles.”

As well as the quality of the teaching, one stand out difference that Michelle notices about students who are studying on endorsed courses is their level of self-confidence. She explained that she had recently met with students from a course that was going through the accreditation process and that were “just brilliant at talking and communicating”. She also further explains that “this is so important because there is risk that it is too easy students to hide behind a screen and therefore not feel confident in themselves and therefore are not confident in engaging on productions. To succeed, it is vital that graduates are technically competent and also self-confident.”

Michelle’s company, Escape Films, is a recent recipient of a Vision award, given by the BFI to aid her work in developing new talent and optioning and commissioning material. This sits alongside an impressive list of credits including recently Naptha (2019), To Know Him (2018) and The Big Day (2017).

Her experience is well worth listening to therefore when she states that new entrants have to take advantage of the opportunities they are given when they start their first roles. “Always do more than you are asked to do. Going above and beyond is industry practice and those who do are the ones who are favoured by employers and get the best jobs. Dedication and passion combined with always wanting to do, without being asked, really helps you stand out.”

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