Justin Drew on receiving a ScreenSkills bursary

Justin Drew was working as an edit assistant for a post-production company when a path to his dream career in editing became a little clearer. He knew he had to upgrade his PC in order to train and develop new skills but without the money to do so he turned to ScreenSkills. “My girlfriend, who was working for Film Hub Wales at the time, told me about ScreenSkills’ bursary scheme. I don't have much spare money so needed the bursary if I wanted to upgrade my home technology. I added some of my own money to the bursary I received and invested in a desktop PC that I specced up myself.”

The new desktop made a “massive” difference. “It's a powerful computer and I use it every day. I want to become an editor, and I needed a computer that can handle footage and allow me to work on it without glitching or running slow. I wanted to be able to take on projects for private clients outside of my full-time job so that I could build up editing experience. I've been able to do that.”

It soon became a purchase that extended its use further than expected: “As it turned out it's also been useful for my job, as I've been having to work from home during the pandemic. The new PC made it so easy.”

Justin felt positive not only about the bursary but of the application experience itself, “As application processes go, it was really good – it was detailed, but it breaks it down for you. You don't have to do it in one go, so you can go back to the application.  The challenge for me was in writing the application statement. You're talking about yourself – and that was hard. I had to do several drafts, and it really made me think about how to present myself. I asked my dad and my girlfriend to read through my application and give me feedback. I felt like ScreenSkills listened to my case – I was quite surprised that they understood it all. There weren’t even any delays in receiving the bursary. I'd got several receipts, as I had the PC built to the spec I needed.”

Justin highlighted other benefits from receiving a bursary, beyond the investment in a new desktop PC. “Even just getting the bursary gave me confidence – I've never got anything like that in my life – so that, in itself, was a confidence-booster. It was like someone taking notice that I was actually on my way somewhere. And I’m now much more aware of how I can present myself and my skills.”

He feels the new desktop made a major difference to his work and career progression. “The PC's been great. Before that the kit was very much a barrier for me.  I'm still at the start of my career and will need other kinds of help along the way – but, at that moment, the computer was the thing I needed.  If I'd been working on my old laptop I couldn't have done the things that I needed to do efficiently or to a standard that the client would like. So the PC’s allowed me to progress quicker.”

He added: “If you don't have the right equipment, you have to rent it – which is expensive – or you're working on below-standard kit.  It's like you've got your hands tied behind your back. Without the ScreenSkills bursary I think I'd have ended up taking out a loan, just to bite the bullet. I'd have been in a bit more debt, which I'd have worried about. Otherwise I don't know what I could have done, other than struggle for another year with out-of-date kit. I've been able to take online courses to help me: there are lots of them around, but I didn’t have the technology to do them before. And I can now really do a good job for people – I can compete.” 

It's clear to Justin how worthwhile the purchase has been in helping his career development. “Every project I’ve worked on, I would not have been able to do without the bursary – I was able to by a high-performance computer that can withstand playback of high quality video footage. In an ideal world, you could just use the computers and systems at work, but that wasn’t the case for me. And I knew that early on.

“The bursary allowed me to get the lift-up, that I think many people in the industry may have had at the start. It was a really proud moment when I received confirmation of the bursary – and I’ll always be grateful for what it allowed me to get.”