George Horne, class of 2010

George Horne

I know people who’ve swept floors, blown up balloons and bought everyone’s lunch at some studios, for no pay and little respect. Honestly, some internships are nothing short of slave labour and unpaid internships should be made illegal.

Save a life, Stay Awake [HD] from George Horne on Vimeo.

I’m a self shooting freelance director, who’s worked for Awake ltd, Leicester City Council, Youths Sport Trust, Loughborough University and a few others. I was also recently employed a director for two studios and I’m about to start some new projects there.

My journey so far.

I left Lincoln a few months after my final hand-in and made sure to make the most of the University’s equipment that was still available to me. I managed to shoot a short film titled ‘Frank & Lucille’, a 3 minute doc about a small bakery, as well as a larger 30 minute doc about a WW2 bomber before my house lease finally ran out.

Soon after returning home I began professional work, initially starting off unpaid, but soon got up to £15 an hour. I worked from home for many clients and managed to get my fee up to £100 a day. With this money I bought my own equipment and started up my own business (with a website) called Paradime, to which I could now charge £200 a day.

From here I drummed up a lot of attention online as I would always shoot and edit short films on my own, with my new camera (a Sony EX1) and upload them to the internet. I got incredible exposure one day when I was ‘featured’ by Vimeo, and received 10’s of thousands of hits in a matter of days. From this I received 2 job offers as a director, one I accepted immediately, the other I never noticed as it went straight into my junk email and I was on holiday at the time – the offer had expired when I returned home and finally found it!

Finally I pursued and secured a final signing at The Phoenix Partners, a local marketing company who outsource all their video work to young directors like me. I used a brand new Showreel consisting of all my post graduation work and managed to really impress their MD with my productivity and independence.

I’m currently in the running for a large £9,000 pitch to direct a new BT Global Services ident, making it possible for me to charge upwards of £300 a day.

Advice.

1. Buy business cards. It’s unbelievable how many I give out when people enquire about what I do. People I meet on the train, business associates, friends of the family, friends of friends and many others now have mine, and I always get contacted as a result of it. There’s nothing less professional than writing your number on a scrap of paper, folding it up and passing it to a disappointed looking contact.

2. Create, maintain and add to an online portfolio on a regular basis. I owe just about everything to Vimeo, which has broadcast all of my work for 3 years now. Without it nobody would even know who I was and I would certainly not be in the position I am now. Put everything online! I don’t care if you think your brilliant new film is too good for the New Media, just put it on Vimeo and listen to what people have to say about it – whether they are good or bad comments. Don’t get upset if people don’t like it (as a director I will never work with someone who cannot accept criticism. )

3. Don’t expect to make much money in the first few months after graduating, and don’t be deterred if you don’t make any at all. You have to persevere, work for basic pay or for nothing at all and soon you’ll be able to use your body of work as leverage to secure ‘real money.’

4. Likewise, don’t move to London because you want to appear ‘a success’. Many of my friends did this as a totally uninformed act, as they felt it was the only place to go. Don’t get me wrong, London is the only place for film in the UK, just work you way down there when you’re ready to –  be it in 12 months or 36.

5. Nobody really cares about your degree (unless you want to carry on within education and do an MA.) But that’s not to say studying media at University is a waste of time, I certainly don’t regret it at all. University gives you access to brilliant equipment and provides you with the time to construct an in depth portfolio for yourself – which is infinitely more important than your degree. University also gives you a chance to network with others in your position, so be polite, do favours for others and offer help and advice whenever you can – those people can really “sort you out” after graduation.

I never tell employers or clients what grade I got at University as I know their response will always be “I don’t care.” In fact saying you’re a graduate at all can be damaging, your portfolio should say EVERYTHING about you, so it’s important to make the film you feel is best for you, regardless of University criteria.

6. Oh and check your junk mail.

My time at LSM

I’ve always believed that ‘creativity’ cannot be taught, it can only be learnt. By this, I mean you have to discover it for yourself and you can only do it through  repeated exploration; you need freedom, time and space to discover what you can and cannot do well – no lecturer, teacher or University can do it for you.

That said, thankfully Lincoln has a syllabus leaning heavily in favour of practical work, which gives you the time, facilities, encouragement and space you need to grow – and if they ever change that, it’d be the end of the University’s reputation as a top class media facility.

However, at Lincoln I didn’t learn a thing about budgets, talking with and finding clients, handling yourself professionally, seeking out funding, professional rates or launching your own business – which left me embarrassingly under educated when in certain situation.

This happened repeatedly to the point where I’d be talking to a client, they’d ask “how much do you charge per day?” and I’d have no idea – although if they were to ask me about feminism, semiotics, mise-en-scene or post modern horror I could spew an almost endless amount of useless information, none of which they’d care about.

Lincoln needs to sort out its priorities. Media is not and never will be an academic subject so stop treating it like one. It’s an art and a highly profitable one, if only you would tell us a little bit about real life professional practice.

If I were to take over Lincoln University’s Media facility, I’d ban staff ties and suit jackets. I’d tell everybody to log onto Vimeo, subscribe to some recommended channels and watch 1 or 2 short films a night. I’d create a non-profit DVD swapping subscription service where films of lesser known brilliance were traded between students, and also encourage a relationship between Media students and others from Graphic Design, Advertising and Contemporary Lens Media – all across Lincoln University.

Finally I’d get rid of The Shed (do you know how many students don’t turn up to lectures because they’re waiting for food there?) I’d empty it out and turn it into a studio workspace for media students giving them both creative space and an opportunity to talk, compare work, share films and bounce ideas off each other. Every other creative course at Lincoln has this facility and because of it they are far stronger, I was actually so sick of not having this room that in my third year I worked at Thomas Parker House and studied with their graphic design students –  a course which has been ranked as one of the best in the World.

It’s worth noting that neither the Library nor the Atrium can provide this space. 

What I’m most proud of.

Walking home through Soho after a 13 hour shift. I had just finished working with one of the top animation directors in England and produced a great 5 minute video pitch for her next project – I wasn’t paid and I didn’t care.

What I feel strongly about

Internships - they are basically a form of exploitation. It’s disgusting, you don’t get paid, you do brainless and meaningless jobs and people really do take the piss. I know people who’ve swept floors, blown up balloons and bought everyone’s lunch at some studios, for no pay and little respect. Honestly, some internships are nothing short of slave labour and unpaid internships should be made illegal.

George Horne

Director at Irresistible Films

George on Facebook



10 thoughts on “George Horne, class of 2010

  1. Congratulations on having one of the most sophisticated blogs Ive come across in some time! Its just incredible how much you can take away from something simply because of how visually beautiful it is. Youve put together a great blog space –great graphics, videos, layout. This is definitely a must-see blog!

  2. I was amongst the same batch of Media Production graduates as George and I actually found his blog entry rather useful! Obviously, it is HIS opinions and HIS experiences so I wish people wouldn’t get so jumpy about every bad word said against the university. The fact is – the course has flaws, but what course doesn’t? I was constantly complaining about all the little things that were wrong with the course to the tutors because it drove me crazy to know I was paying so much for the course and yet I wasn’t getting quite what I expected. However, I made the most of the good parts of the course which is what most people do (I hope).

    “if only you would tell us a little bit about real life professional practice.” – I agree with George’s opinion about certain things that could be focussed on throughout the course such as budgets, funding and appearing professional. Even though these things are exercised in the research and development part of the course, I feel it could be taught much earlier like at the beginning of the second year. On the other hand, that’s what the guest lectures were all about! You know, when those semi successful past students come in and talk about their experiences for an hour or so. Ok, they don’t exactly show you slides of figures and tell you about how they budgeted for each project but they certainly give you tips and ideas on what it is like being a media professional.

    My response to this blog is partial because I’m in George’s position and an ex LSM student but at the same time, I feel that the course was designed to cover a lot of the aspects that George claims it does not. Perhaps it simply wasn’t as accessible throughout the course as some people expected.

    Overall, George – I think you have some really interesting points and I thought your blog entry was an interesting read. Some of your experiences even inspired me to reflect on my own. Good luck with your career in film directing.

  3. George has always been confident and has a clear view in his mind as to what he wanted to do; and in a hurry to progress. He is currently on the books at irrisistable films as a Director. He is certainly entitled to state his views. One of the great things about Universities, is that they encapsulate the broadest range of people, experiences, attitudes and expectations.

    His (occasionally scurrilous) comments are personal and of course do not represent a definitive analysis of what we offer – rather a snapshot of his own mind – and I feel certain that many will think him rude and disingenuous to the institution that has so far fared him well. On this occasion it helps to know the person, to make sense of the comments.

    I suspect that much of what George has learnt here at Lincoln will prove extremely useful over the coming years as he forges his career. Of course he is wrong to say that there’s no place for Academic teaching in Media, otherwise all our Universities would be closing down courses across the country, and he in a stroke is maligning a large community – and here at Lincoln we do focus heavily on professional practice. We have regular visits from guests who are active in a wide range of disciplines, many of our staff have come to teaching having had careers in all forms of media output, and still freelance.

    Other members of staff have valuable perspectives on the study, analysis and theory of media in its widest context. Rather than there being a ‘damaging academic divide between staff and students’ students are able to distil what they need from each area of study. I do agree that staff should always keep their finger on the pulse and make sure there is collaboration wherever possible.

    George said recently “Lincoln really does need to teach students more about professional practice. I know this not only from my own experiences, but also from several other students I stay in contact with who have since been exploited as they didn’t know how to stand up for themselves.”
    Unfortunately the climate at the moment is a very tough one, particularly for young people trying to start their careers which will by necessity become ‘portfolio’ careers.

    It will be fascinating to follow his progress and keep in touch.

    This years batch of 3rd years are about to have their degree show – see their work here http://youtu.be/EfnxhDRrZ9Y

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    I’m not surprised that this has all blown up on me but I’ve had my 2 cents and I stand by what I’ve said. I’m not here to endorse the University as my allegiance lies with students, I’m therefore just expressing my experiences honestly and realistically and whether they be positive or negative is of no concern to me.

    Also comments like this can only destroy the alumni blogs impartialness:
    ‘It seems obvious to me that the function of this blog should be to nurture affirmative and supportive feeling with regards to the degree’

    I’m also not going to defend or counter argue anything I’ve read in response to my blog, but I do hope you take my feedback into account.

    Although, I will say that this is a blog about my experiences and my opinions. Of course they only apply to those in a similar position to myself – that goes without saying. Ultimately, my words are only applicable to those students who want to work creatively as freelancers, especially as Directors.

  5. George Horne’s comments reflecting on the Lincoln Media course were an interesting and thought provoking read. An element of his critique that stood out for me, however, was that he is a graduate of the 2010 class – merely a year ago and I might suggest that the passage of time would lead to a kinder re-assessment of ULH.
    I disagree strongly that “media is not and never will be an academic subject”. The study of media practice and film criticism has strongly influenced the past two generations of film makers from the 60s new wave in the US which range from Hopper, Spielberg, et al., to the 90s era of Tarantino and Soderberg in the US and the likes of Edgar Wright and others in the UK whose post-modern influences are defining marks of their creativity.
    There is the need for a teaching of critical, academic analysis of film from a creative standpoint but also the same from a business perspective. To imply that media is “an art and a highly profitable one” is a good discussion starter but I would argue misleading and borderline niave. Firstly, by “media” is such a broad descriptor that one would be wise to narrow down the field. Second, in retrospect, for me one of the strengths of the ULH Media course was in fact the emphasis on the theoretical economic and political underpinnings that deeply impact all areas of media. I speak from my own meandering experience of eight or nine years in the television in the UK and US that many – too many in my opinion – people enter both media courses and the film/TV industry with highly admirable creative goals but are naively not tempered by the hard, honest reality that money, ratings and commercial forces are what drives the business. A creative passion to make art is very important. Aesthetic skill is vital. Nonetheless, one has to honestly evaluate the feasibility of producing triumphantly worthy piece of film or TV that does not find an audience. The TV/film industry is fiercely and intensely competitive and with severe limitations to what an artist can professionally produce going solo, the need for financial backing will bring the grim (at least to the zealous, creatively un-compromising artist) but honest questions: How will your work bring a return on investment? How will what you create draw in massive viewers (who’ll watch the commercials that will pay the way for your film)? How can we recraft your vision to fit the budget and keep the sponsors happy? It is at times difficult not to have creative enthusiasm diminished by the cynicism of corporate, economic rationale dictating creative choices but (unless one is a very rare and extremely successful or financially independent artist) this is “real life professional practice”.
    Ultimately, I feel the spirit of Horne’s comments and indeed I almost quit the course after the first four months out of disappointment that my cohort did not do the practical elements in the first semester. Instead, over Christmas/New Year I found two weeks work experience (unpaid) at a London TV production company. While grunt work is to be expected (don’t let a degree give you any sense of entitlement) it was immensely rewarding and the contacts I made led to paid work eighteen months later.
    I am glad that I stuck the Media course out and didn’t quit. If anything a worrying prospect might be that recent Tory backed initiatives enabling universities to charge will lead to high education becoming more of a competitive market-place and recruitment high-lighting the “sexy” creative, practical side media courses at the expense of making sure would-be students are aware of the rigorous theoretical and academic side to the course. The course should not be mis-sold. There are short media practice training schemes out there and options to learn on the job (if you are tenacious and lucky). University, however, leads to a degree which – we should not be misled – is an academic qualification given to reward not only creative skill, but moreover the thorough development of analysis and independent critical thinking. It is arguably a credit to the university that Mr. Horne has benefited from three years of study enabling him to give a thoughtful appraisal – although perhaps he will find time and experience in the industry lead him to view ULH more fondly.

  6. Thanks for your balanced comment Joe – interesting to have another view from the coalface. Fancy sending in your alumni story for a separate post?

  7. Although an interesting blog entry – and containing some valid points – this is rose tinted and personally biased. I can appreciate that this is an adequate guide for someone leaving Lincoln looking for work as a freelance director, but the author fails to appreciate that not every graduate of LSM is looking to do so. Neither does he manage to create a convincing argument for the outlawing of unpaid internships; after all he freely admits that he too started off his own company by working unpaid, in fact point 3 in his ‘Advice’ clearly advocates working for nothing. There is no argument that him working for himself for free is any more commendable than working for a production company or studio. In my experience, the person working for free, who still applies themselves 100% to the blowing up of balloons or sweeping of floors is the person most recognised by the appropriate people. Word of mouth is priceless in this game, hard working people rarely go unnoticed.

    That said, I’d like to agree with the author to some extent, unpaid internships are biased towards the rich and don’t allow the average graduate a secure route in to the film industry, I personally was not interested in this route, preferring to take an entry level paid position and work my way up. (This I appreciate is not now as easy as it was) My point however is that in the current climate often work experience and internships are all there is on offer, and rather than outlawing them, I would encourage those who are able to give it their best shot and seek to impress employers.

    I could not disagree more withe the ‘Advice’ section. I would consider myself to be an average graduate from LSM, I went from university to working in London via a short stint at my parents. I didn’t move to London in the hope of appearing ‘a success’, neither did I move here Dick Whittington style with my worldly possessions over my shoulder, in search of riches and fame. I moved to London because I got a job here – I got a job here because it’s where 90% of the jobs are. It’s a simple equation.

    I obtained a job in a very reputable company, with the aid of my degree, this I know because they did ask about it, and were interested in my result. I stress, they were interested but it was not a prerequisite for the position. Astonishingly I didn’t even have a portfolio for them to view. However neither was this a prerequisite for the runner’s position I secured.

    Some of his points in the the ‘My Time at LSM’ are valid. I agree that there should be more emphasis on professional practice and advice for the real world. I also agree that collaboration between the different courses should be encouraged. I work in Advertising, but was never given the opportunity to make an advert at Lincoln. However I don’t see the harm in treating a percentage of the course as academic; I disagree with the author that Media is and never will be an academic subject, some of the great directors were scholars in media theory aside being creatively brilliant. Ultimately this is a description of what the author specifically liked and disliked about the course, poorly disguised as an objective piece of criticism. It’s rude and inaccurate, we have all been provided with a sound and rounded education by LSM, for which I’m grateful. If you want to find out more about crew rates, funding and business management I’m sure you needed only to ask your tutors.

    Anyway, obviously LSM didn’t teach me to be succinct. If I’ve bored you, blame them not me! I’m off to burn my tie, swap some Wim Wenders DVD’s, subscribe to Vimeo and gather an angry mob for a flash refurb of the shed and some stern words with the chef about timekeeping.

  8. I graduated from the course a few years before you and have few issues with your post.

    After reading your comments I would agree on a number of points, most notably that gaining production experience, experimenting regularly and making use of the equipment and facilities is a key element in developing your creative and practical skills, as well as highlighting the importance of networking and learning to work and communicate within groups of other practitioners. However, a number of your points do raise a concern and it seems to me that you must have missed the relevance of a number of the modules throughout the course.

    You state at one point that you “didn’t learn a thing about budgets, talking with and finding clients, handling yourself professionally, seeking out funding, professional rates or launching your own business” – could I respond to this by asking, “where were you throughout the third year Research and Development module which is designed for enhancing your knowledge in precisely these areas?” This unit helped me tremendously in learning about the inner-workings of the industry and seemed to work perfectly in developing an understanding and researching pitching, budgeting, funding, logistics and production costs, as well as enabling a chance to make industry contacts. A large number of graduates from my year group even managed to secure employment after their time at university directly from the work they produced and the contacts they made in this module, so to reject it outright and not illustrate any understanding of the relevance that the range of different skills learnt on the course seems a little ill informed and fairly dismissive to me.

    Anyway, you clearly have some talent as displayed in your range of work so good luck in the future. It’s just a shame that you appear so conceited and apathetic to purpose and relevance of what the Media Production course at the University of Lincoln has to offer.

    • On behalf of Nigel Morris:

      How’s this for a potential response? Discuss.
      GH: Media is not and never will be an academic subject so stop treating it like one.
      NM: Then it has no place in Universities.
      (BTW, I happen to disagree with this!)

      Nigel

  9. It seems obvious to me that the function of this blog should be to nurture affirmative and supportive feeling with regards to the degree, its graduates and prospective applicants; even if criticisms are voiced, they should be sensitive to, and grounded in, an understanding of the ethos and raison d’etre of the course. Your comments are somewhat dismissive and negative about the aspirations of the degree. They seem designed to undermine, and it would be a shame if they put anyone thinking of coming to LSM off.

    I think university education should aspire to produce graduates who can think and do, where thinking and doing means making a difference, engaging in a transformative encounter with the world, in whatever field. Making a difference – being able to do what you can do – is inseparable, in my view, from questions of power. To interrogate these questions is the critical responsibility of the university. Its integrity rests with this critical responsibility, not in any rehearsal for industry. Anything less is just training.

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