Meet the Team: Sadie

We thought we’d take advantage of the calm of January to revive our Meet the Team blog posts, so here goes and we hope you enjoy.

IMG_3404This week’s fortunate victim is… Sadie!

It’s great to see you Sadie, we hope you had a lovely Christmas?

Yes I did thank you. I watched lots of TV, ate lots of food and wore my Christmas jumpers, so lots of fun all round!

You can never wear too many Christmas jumpers. So Sadie, in traditional ‘Meet the Team’ spirit, I’m going to start with the second most important question. What’s your favourite film?

Well, if I had to choose just one, then I would go for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.


And now for the most important question, what’s your favourite Studio Film School film?

I would have to say Inside Once Upon a Time, which is a brilliant film created by our young filmmakers from our Summer Film Shoots in Balham last year. A group of children on a school trip manage to get stuck inside a storybook and then have to find clues and solve riddles to get back home. I won’t spoil it for you, but there are one or two creepy surprises on their way!

Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into filmmaking?

Well, when I was younger I used to watch Disney films every day. I really wanted to make my own, so I drew out all of the characters. I then began making comics as well- I had a really big passion for art and drawing, which then developed into a love of animation. I studied animation at university and started making my own stuff. I wanted to share that passion and some of the things I’d learned with young people who wanted to make their own films too. And a few years later, here we are!

Can you tell us about what you’re currently doing with us at Studio Film School?

So back in October I created an animated film called Zombie Boy for the film festival, Dr Hydenshriek’s Laboratory. That was great fun, because I collaborated with Ash and Nic from Studio Film School too. They performed the voices for me and we had a great time recording those. I also designed the promotional artwork for the event which was pretty cool. I’ve been leading Saturday Film Shoots, holiday workshops and after school clubs quite steadily since the beginning of the year, and now I’m the Centre Leader for Highgate. So it’s all very exciting. I also attended the Red Carpet Premiere event on Sunday, where a few of my after school clubs showcased their work, which made me really proud.

That is very exciting! And have you got any other projects coming up?

Well outside of Studio Film School, I’m also working on an animation about wolves, so watch this space, but until then I’m looking forward to working with my group in Highgate on The Camera Games challenges. I know they’re going to do some really amazing stuff this term.

Can you describe yourself in 5 words?

Bubbly, smiley, friendly, positive and sparky.

Great choices. Ok Sadie, your final question for today – get your thinking cap on. If you were stuck on a boat in the middle of shark infested waters and an enormous Great White is heading straight for you, what would you do?

I think sharks are friends rather than enemies, so I wouldn’t be too worried. Anyone who has seen Finding Nemo knows that sharks are vegetarians! However, I am scared of fish, so I would be more concerned with that.

Haha, very interesting!! Well thank you for joining us Sadie, and we can’t wait to see what your lovely filmmakers in Highgate and at your after school clubs create this term. 

Neither can I!


That’s all for this week – keep an eye out for the next instalment of ‘Meet the Team’!

Sarah @ Studio Film HQ 🙂

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Welcome to the all new…

Hello! And welcome!

It’s finally the day of our rebrand launch and we are so excited to welcome you to the brand new website, featuring our new name and logo design.

We’re saying a fond farewell to ‘Studio Film School’ and hello to our new look. This has been a long time in the making, as we explain in our video below.

We really hope you like the new look… We wanted something that could express everything we now do and everything we would like to become in the future. Hopefully you agree that the new name shows off the personality of our workshops – we love that we can feature our members as part of the logo!

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Liz, and to Paul and Paula from Form, who helped to guide us through the process and create our wonderful new images.

We’d also like to say a very special thank you to all of our members and families, who have always been instrumental in helping to develop our work over the last six years. Our members were the inspiration for the rebrand project and our new name and we couldn’t be here without you.

To evolution!

Dan, Donna and the Team at the newly named Sparks!

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Half Term at the Barbican Children’s Library

Last week I missed out on all the stunts fun at Stunt Trouble, but I really can’t complain because instead, Sadie, Emily and I were at the Barbican Children’s Library working on a dream of a project.

We spent three days with 48 children creating imaginative adaptations of some of their favourite books. Our time there forms part of an ongoing project to celebrate a love of stories, combining this with the amazing potential for video to communicate and share through storytelling. Each workshop takes inspiration from a different book and last week we looked at The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman, and Crow Boy, by Philip Caveney.

With each group, we looked at different elements from the stories, using them as inspirations to create films that captures and communicates the experience and enjoyment in reading the book. In particular, I really enjoyed creating animated ‘fire’ background sequences to represent the Fire Challenge of Lila in The Firework Maker’s Daughter. Each group we worked with took on a different approach, and in such a short space of time produced some fantastic work. I’m currently in the process of editing this together with some green screen work they produced and each time I review it, I can’t help but smile, because they’ve created something really charming, interesting and fun to work with.

Image of fire stop motion animation sets

Several groups made animated sequences to represent the Fire Challenge issued to Lila in The Firework Maker’s Daughter

It was an amazingly fun few days, and everyone participating contributed really well. We had a range of ages on each day, and very few children knew anybody else in the group, but everyone supported one another regardless and the strength of their teamwork and collaboration shines through in the quality of their footage. It was a real pleasure to shoot and I’m thoroughly enjoying cutting it together.

Along with green screen shots and animated backgrounds, the groups also shot several live action scenes, telling not just elements of story from within the books, but also about their experience of reading them. They crafted their own props, crewed several setups and also managed to deliver some intricate performances to the camera – it was a rich and varied few days and I think everyone participating took a lot away from the experience. I know I certainly did!

Last week follows on from October half term, when Sadie and Emily worked with a separate group to make a film loosely based on Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book:


We’ll be back at the Children’s Library over the Easter holidays and also in May half term, when we’ll be exploring new books and I’m excited to get started reading some of them.

This project has been a real reminder for me about why I got into filmmaking in the first place and why I’m so passionate about stories. A story, or a character can capture our imagination and take up a residency in our minds. Through them we can experience new adventures that we can learn from, discovering things about ourselves and about the world around us.

“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”
― Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind

In the last few days, I’ve seen faces light up as they remember a particular passage or description, words rushing out of children’s mouths so they can pass the story on to others, and queues for them to take the books out from the library.

It’s been incredible, and I can’t wait for the next one.

Donna @ SFS HQ

If you’d like to take part in one of the Barbican Children’s Library’s ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ workshops, please contact Amanda or Joel on 020 7628 9447.


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The Countdown Has Begun!

With just 7 days to go until the reveal of our big rebranding project, we catch up with company directors Dan and Donna to find out a bit more about the changes…


It’s just 7 days until the new branding is revealed!

“It’s time to say goodbye to Studio Film School and ‘hello’ to our all new image.

As you may already know, since August 2015, we’ve been busy making some pretty big changes here. Now, finally, it’s almost time to unveil our new name, look and overall identity. It’s a big change for us, and we wanted to share with you exactly what it means for us.

In May 2010, we sat down over lunch in a Pizza Express and legally ‘formed’ Studio Film School Ltd. This meant signing an all important form, and then just like that, we were a company. We were both 24 years old, which might explain why this life changing moment happened over a pizza.

That summer, we ran our first two Summer Film Shoots, two pilot programmes of workshops that looked and felt like we wanted them to: lots of creative fun. Both workshops went well, the first taking place in a village hall in Wilmslow, Cheshire (where Donna is from) and the second in Balham in London, where we were invited by the Exhibit cinema to run a partnership project. From that first workshop, some of the filmmakers became our first Saturday members: Jasper, Stefan, Rosa and Nathan. Rosa and Nathan are both still with us today after nearly six years and can attest to just how much we’ve grown in that time.

The following summer, we remember an argument we had, in a hot car, stuck in traffic somewhere on the M6. We both wanted to change our name… We had a feel for our own workshops now, and both felt that the ‘school’ part had the wrong connotations to it… It felt too long, too ‘proper’, but despite six long hours, we couldn’t reach any agreement. We decided to stick with Studio Film School for the time being. That conversation came up occasionally over time, but without that Eureka moment we were holding on for.

Last year some new (and important) people came into our lives. We met Liz, who helps us with our expansion plan for lots of new centres, and then we met branding experts Paul and Paula from design agency Form.

Paul and Paula tend to work with music artists and the entertainments industry, so they were able to guide us through the process of what we wanted to achieve. They helped us to think about who we were, why we were different and why it is we do things the way we do them. They helped us to see all the things we actually offer: the reasons why we love what we do. And from there, in August 2015, we finally reached a decision…

On 1st March, after we’ve shared it with our team and our members, we’ll be announcing our new look to the world. We can’t wait, and invite you back in just a few weeks for the big reveal!

In the meantime, stay up to date with our countdown at”

Dan & Donna @ SFS HQ


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Video of the Week: Virus Attack

This week’s Video of the Week is ‘Virus Attack: the Infected Dead’.

To celebrate the success of this week’s Stunt Trouble workshop, we wanted to throwback to another very successful week of half term workshops. This horror film trailer was shot, directed, crewed and performed by the brilliant film crew in Balham during October’s Aliens vs. Zombies workshop.

‘Virus Attack: the Infected Dead’ is a great example of a successful horror trailer. It draws viewers in with its camera tricks, strong shot choices and its fast pace. The crew shot some fantastic wide shots that gave the audience a good view of the gore on screen; when combined with filters and slow motion edits, it became even more tense. There is also some fantastic panoramic CCTV style footage that gave the trailer a unique edge, which alongside the brilliantly disgusting special effects make-up and creepy acting, made the trailer a favourite here at Studio Film School.

Not seen your favourite film featured on Video of the Week yet? Get in touch and tell us which film you’d like to see featured next week!


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Meet the Team: Joel

It’s time for another instalment of Meet the Team. This week’s fortunate victim is… Joel!

Hi Joel, we hope you’ve had a great time at our Stunt Trouble workshop in Hampstead this week. So, what is your all-time favourite film?

My all-time favourite film has got to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I read the books as a child, and I just think that the films are epic. The cinematography and the costume and production design is immense.

Great choice. And if you had to choose, what would be your favourite Studio Film School film?

I worked on Aliens vs Zombies in Balham during October half term, and I have to say that I thought ‘Virus Attack: the Infected Dead’ was an awesome film.

If you had to describe yourself in 5 words, what words would you choose?

Outgoing, hipster, relaxed, creative and fun.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’re currently doing with us at Studio Film School?

Well for the past three days I’ve been at our Hampstead centre for the Stunt Trouble half term workshop. I’ve been assisting with Dan and Sarah, and it’s been great fun. We did so much including green screen effects, stage combat and special effects make up and prosthetics. Although I’ve helped assist half term projects in the past, I think this week was definitely my favourite.

And can you tell us about any other projects you have coming up?

I’ve been shooting and producing a music video for a band, as well as doing some photography for a local charity. I’m also currently writing a short film about a Saturday morning football coach who is having a mid life crisis.

That all sounds really interesting. And how exactly did you get into filmmaking/media arts?

When I was 12, I was cast as the lead in a short film called Little Boy Zero. I really enjoyed the experience, and it made me realise that I wanted to make films myself. So I decided to study Media at the Brit School, and then went on to study film at University.

And finally, imagine you’re caught in a fierce storm during a flight, during which your plane crashes and you become stranded on a deserted tropical island. Your only companion is a volley ball, which you name Wilson. How do you bide your time?

I would make musical instruments out of bamboo, twigs, brambles and coconuts. I would also build a raft to try and escape. If I was unsuccessful at escaping, I’d then make characters out of the trees and coconuts and make up stories to keep myself entertained.

Brilliant – let’s hope you’re more successful at escaping the desert island than Tom Hanks was! 

Join us next week for more ‘Meet the Team’, and enjoy the rest of your February half term.

Sarah @ Studio Film HQ 🙂

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Updates from the Set: Stunt Trouble Day 2

Day 2 of Stunt Trouble has been even more adrenalin fuelled and action packed than Day 1. We’ve had a busy day at both our Balham and Hampstead centres and our films are beginning to take great shape.


We began the day with a prosthetics and special effects make up workshop, which our young filmmakers loved! They learnt to create their own edible fake blood (which of course looked gross but tasted awesome), and created their own grazes, bruises and gruesome wounds. Our crew members did a great job at making them look gory and realistic.


After perfecting our prosthetics, we played around with different ways that we could shoot these on camera. We planned a four shot scene to give some thrilling back story to our oozing wounds. Our young filmmakers had some really creative ideas, and we got some great close ups for our film, including earthquake disasters, explosion scenes and even some zombie apocalypses.

After lunch, we brainstormed what else we could use within our film to make it even more action-packed. Our Balham centre decided to have a go at creating some classic ‘Spielberg faces’ (reaction shots) to pump up the adrenalin for our viewers. On the other side of the river at our Hampstead centre, our young filmmakers were shooting individual push in and pull out shots to capture some tense on-screen footage.


It’s been a busy and productive day with our young film crews, and we’re really looking forward to our final day of Stunt Trouble. See you tomorrow for our final Update from the Stunt Trouble Set!

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Updates on the Set: Stunt Trouble!

We’ve had a flying start to our three day Stunt Trouble workshop, with plenty of thrilling footage on our SD cards already. Our Balham and Hampstead centres have been hard at work, and we can’t wait for what tomorrow’s workshops have in store.

At our Hampstead centre, we started the day by breaking the ice. Some of our 16 strong crew knew each other already, so we played a few team bonding and camera based activities to relieve any first morning jitters for those who were new to the crew. The ice quickly broke and we became quickly confident with the filming to come.

We ran head first into filming with story boarding and planning our own high energy chase sequences and scenes. We split into three mini crews and began shooting. There was so much variety in the footage, from apocalyptic finale scenes to traditional ‘good cop bad cop’ chases. We saw silhouettes against the sky, POV tracking shots and CCTV style high angles. We shared the footage back which was loved by the rest of the crew. 
After more team activities and games, we had a chance to rehearse and shoot our very own green screen diving shots. Our young filmmakers did an excellent job of varying the shots – we managed to capture footage of dives, jumps, rolls and leaps before editing them into explosion scenes during tomorrow’s workshop. 


tomorrow: cuts and bruises makeup!

Today has been action packed and despite the name of the workshop, we’ve had no trouble coming up with ideas for stunts, chases and adrenalin fuelled explosion scenes. 

Stay tuned for more Updates from the Set tomorrow!

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Video of the Week – Origins of Heroism

In the build up to next week’s Stunt Trouble workshop, we’re throwing back to last year’s Superhero Film Shoot.

This week’s video of the week is… Origins of Heroism!

Made by the brilliant Superhero Film Shoots crew in Balham last year, the film features some brilliant stunt tricks, special effects and of course slow motion moments. It combines the different elements of action films brilliantly and is a great inspiration for any white-knuckle action film.


The film gives a really nice introduction to each our main characters, something that is vital within any thrilling action movie – we need our audience to invest in our main character(s) in order to build suspense (will they/won’t they defeat the enemy) and to create the overall ‘hero’ effect. Origins of Heroism also has some great on-screen illusions and camera tricks to create effective fight scenes and stunts.

For more inspiration in the run up to next week’s workshop, you can check out our YouTube channel.

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Video of the Week

This week’s Video of the Week is ‘The Abductor’, a short thriller made by the brilliant students at Dulwich College. The film is full of nail-biting suspense, an absolute must for any white-knuckle action flick. In the run up to our February half term workshop, Stunt Trouble, we thought this film is a great example of why suspense is vital in any action film.

‘The Abductor’ is inspired by the re-defining Spielberg classic, ‘Jaws’, exploring ways to build up suspense by not revealing the monster in a film. Anticipation is key in building suspense, and allowing our viewers to use their imaginations to predict the worst (e.g. what the monster looks like), for as long as possible, is a great and simple way of pushing viewers onto the edge of their seats.

So why is this important for an action film? If you’ve ever seen an action film (let’s face it, who hasn’t seen Batman or Mission Impossible?) you’ll more than likely remember the shocking plot twist that leads to the climactic action sequence, where the bad guy is beaten and peace is restored. In order for these factors to be so thrilling, we need to create a build up – and that’s where the suspense comes in. Viewers need to feel anticipation and confusion in order to get them ready for the final battle. And ‘The Abductor’ just does that – it keeps us on the edge of our seat, dazed and confused (in a sophisticated and intelligent way).

If you’re joining us for our February half term workshop, Stunt Trouble, we highly recommend you sit down to watch ‘The Abductor’ ready for the workshop to come!

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Meet the Team: Sheena

Welcome back for another ‘Meet the Team’ special. This week’s fortunate victim is…

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 15.01.14.png

… Sheena!

Thank you so much for joining us, Sheena. So let’s start with the ultimate question – what is your favourite film?

My favourite film would definitely have to be Elf – I know it’s a Christmas film, but I love it all year round. I’m also a very big horror fan.

Good choice – Elf -who needs to wait til Christmas?! Now Sheena, what’s your favourite Studio Film School production?

I really love ‘Busker’, a film made a couple of years ago by the Studio Start Ups. I also really like ‘I’ll Be Back’, a film noir masterpiece made by one of my Saturday Film Shoots crews in Balham. It’s a classic mystery and explores light and dark really well on camera by playing with shadows and black and white colour contrasts. I was really proud of it.


We love the costumes! Sheena, can you tell us a bit about how you got into the world of film?

When I was little, I used to make plasticine stop motion animations with my Dad. It probably started there. As I was growing up, I used to watch a lot of horror films, and eventually started to dream of making my own.

And what are you currently doing for us in the world of Studio Film?

I’m very busy with my Saturday Film Shoots and Studio Start Up crews as we prepare for the many Camera Games challenges, which is really exciting. We’ve just finished shooting an atmospheric black and white mystery in Start Ups, which looks awesome. I’m also working with Dan on a lovely documentary project with Year 11s at Burlington Danes Academy in West London. And I’m about to start working with on a lovely collaboration between Studio Film School and Kids Inspire – a charity that works with teenagers affected by mental health issues.

Wow, aside from all that do you have any upcoming projects we should look out for?

I recently made a short horror film which is being entered into film festivals at the moment, and will also be premiering at the London Short Film Festival this month.

That’s really exciting, we’ll definitely be there! Can you describe yourself in 5 words?

Northern, crafter, fun, sparkly, nerd.

And for your final question: your family have forgotten to take you on their holiday over the Christmas period, and you’re stuck at home – alone. You notice funny noises downstairs and realise that your home is being burgled. What do you do?

I would go and hide in the loft with my pet mogwai and its babies, feed them all after midnight and let them deal with the burglars.

Brilliant answer *googles mogwai*

That’s all for this week – let us know if you’d like to hear from a particular member of the team who hasn’t been featured yet on ‘Meet the Team’. Or similarly, if you have any particular questions you’d like to ask, simply comment below or send us an e-mail!

Until next week, Sarah @ Studio Film HQ 🙂


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