TALENTED media students have received prizes at Teesside University’s annual Journalism Awards.

The event, which was hosted by Jeremy Armstrong, The Daily Mirror’s North-East Correspondent, took place at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art as part of Teesside University’s School of  Arts and Creative Industries’ Degree Showcase week of events.

Journalism and Fashion degree  students received awards based on exceptional work produced during the past academic year.

The winners receive a week’s work experience at the company which sponsors the individual award.

Winners were commended for the skills learnt on the BA (Hons) Journalism; BA(Hons) Sports Journalism and BA (Hons) Fashion degrees

Among the awards were Multimedia Journalist of the Year, Best Sport Feature Writer and Blogger of the Year.

Prizes included a number of work placements with Teesside Live, The Hartlepool Mail along with work experience at BBC Tees and Bauer Media.

A number of special academic awards were also given out, including the award for the best degree Final Project.

Award’s host Jeremy is based in Newcastle upon Tyne and reports on the North East region for the Daily Mirror.

Host Jeremy Armstrong

He is also sports news correspondent and has worked around the world covering football World Cups, and Olympic Games, since 1998.

Jeremy was sent to report on the war in Afghanistan in 2001, covered the 2009 trial of Josef Fritzl in Austria, the story of canoe man John Darwin, and the hunt for Raoul Moat.

In 2020, he broke the scandal of Dominic Cummings breach of lockdown rules. Last year he travelled to Israel to cover the war in Gaza.

Jim Entwhistle, Course Leader for Journalism and Sports Journalism in the School of Arts and Creative Industries, said:

“These awards recognise the hard work and excellent calibre of our current journalism students and the students were thrilled to be awarded their prizes by Jeremy.”

“I would like to thank all of the media organisations who generously contributed prizes to this celebration of our students’ achievements.”

Here are the winners:

Vlogger of the Year – sponsored by Teesside University Communications and Development

Winner: Kanye Ochieng- Chambers

Content Producer of the Year  – Sponsored by Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA)

Winner: Thomas Hodgson

Feature Writer of the Year –  sponsored by The Northern Echo newspaper

Winner: Roaa Mohammed Elhag

Multimedia Journalist of the Year – sponsored by Teesside Live

Winner: Ben Sedgwick

Community Reporter of the Year, sponsored by The Hartlepool Mail newspaper

Winner: Rory Clark

Rory Clark with Hartlepool Mail Editor, Gavin Ledwith

Audio Journalist of the Year, sponsored by Bauer Media

Winner: Ashley Stone

Ashley Stone with Eleanor Kumar from Bauer Media

Video Journalist of the Year, sponsored by UK Local TV

Winner: Ella Wilson

Ella Wilson with The Daily Mirror's Jeremey Armstrong
Ella Wilson with The Daily Mirror’s Jeremy Armstrong

Digital Communications Student of Year, sponsored by Harvey and Hugo PR Agency

Winner: Gemma Woolston

Ali Brownlee Sports Coverage Award –sponsored by BBC Tees

Winner: Ben Rowell

Creative Communications Campaign – sponsored by Durham County Cricket Club.

Winner: Danny Nicholson

Public Relations Student of the Year – sponsored by DTW PR Agency

Winner: Maddy Hockborn

Maddy Hockburn with Karen Westcott from DTW

Portfolio of the Year – sponsored by Great North Air Ambulance Service

Winner: Jacob Raw

Fashion Journalist  of the Year – Sponsored by Sunday Girl Magazine

Winner: Eleanor Cork

Best Newcomer – Sponsored by Teesside University

Winner: Melissa Wade

Melissa Wade with Senior Lecturer, Paul Bailey

Best Final Project – Sponsored by Teesside University

Winner: Josef Murray

Find out more about studying journalism at Teesside University

BA (Hons) Journalism

BA (Hons) Sport Journalism

To Create is Great!

Being creative is important…in fact, it’s great! Creativity can help to reduce stress, make you feel calmer, improve your wellbeing, combat depression and anxiety and generally alleviate stress, leaving you happy and content. In fact, entering our MIMA Great Create competition could be just the tonic you need – here’s what you need to know.

The School of Arts & Creative Industries  and MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) are celebrating the third birthday of our MIMA Great Create competition, and this year’s theme is sure to prick your social conscience. This year we’re challenging entrants to submit a creative piece that responds to the theme of ‘creating a sustainable future’.

MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art)

The creative piece, which must be developed solely for MIMA Great Create, could be a painting, an illustration, a comic, a piece of music or a film. It could be a model, a photograph, a fashion item or a piece of creative artwork in any form.  All shortlisted entries will be featured in a special pop-up exhibition at MIMA and the winner of our special People’s Champion category will be displayed in Teesside University’s Net Zero Centre for all visitors to see.

The competition is open to anyone aged 16 or over and this year entries will be judged in three categories:

  • School or college student
  • Current Teesside University student and
  • Creative in the community.

There will also be an exciting opportunity for everyone to vote for the ‘People’s Champion’ from the shortlisted entries.

Judge Drucilla Burrell

The MIMA Great Create judges come from across the creative industries, and this year include magazine founder and fashion academic Abigail Dennison, artist and curator Bobby Benjamin, children’s art charity Theatre Hullabaloo chief executive Ben Dickenson, Professor Dawid Hanak of the Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, photographer Drucilla Burrell, artist and illustrator Errol Theunissen, MIMA artistic director Elinor Morgan, and last year’s Great Create winner Hayley Harris.

MIMA Great Create winner, 2023 – Hayley Harris

Hayley was announced as the second winner of the World Book Day themed MIMA Great Create in March 2023 with her illustration inspired by her favourite book The Secret Garden. Speaking when she was announced as the winner, Hayley said:

“I feel a strong connection with the book and characters, having lost a parent and being surrounded by wildlife and nature has helped to heal, give guidance and comfort. The scene that I chose to encapsulate is when the robin shows the way to the door and sadness is given some light and healing through nature.”

2023 winning entry, The Secret Garden

Haley’s advice to anyone considering entering the MIMA Great Create was:

“Let your imagination run wild and don’t be afraid to let your artwork out into the world. It helps others in giving encouragement and a bit of inspiration.”

The standard of entries gets higher every year and entries already received for this year are no different. With a closing deadline of Friday 29 March 2024, there’s still time to get your entry in, so if creating a sustainable future matters to you, then get those creative juices flowing and head to  The MIMA Great Create | School of Arts & Creative Industries | Teesside University

Judge Errol Theunissen
Judge David Hawak
Judge Ben Dickenson

Study at our School of Arts & Creative Industries https://www.tees.ac.uk/schools/mima/

National Apprenticeship Week

This week at Teesside University we are celebrating National Apprenticeship Week and highlighting the positive impact of apprenticeships on individuals, employers, and the economy.

Apprentices in the MIMA Gallery

It’s a very exciting time for the apprentices on the Curator Degree Apprenticeship MA, because they are spending their week at MIMA on our Teesside University Campus for one of their intensive weeks of learning. This course is the first of its kind in the sector and offers a unique approach to learning by combining online seminars, on the job learning and 3 intensive weeks across the 24 months of the course.

What is it like to be on our blended, unique learning model?

Curator apprentices in MIMA

We asked some of our current apprentices to tell us…

Alice Wilde is a Talent Development Producer and Curator for Visual Art at HOME in Manchester.

My favourite thing about the course has been learning from one another I think it’s a very special environment. Everyone is coming to the subject from very different backgrounds and disciplines, but there’s a universal language and a way of understanding one another.

The course is for someone who wants to expand their practise, hone it and work out what your values are as a curator and the direction you want to go into in the future. One of the main priorities of this course is thinking about access and inclusivity – who our audience are, who encounters our spaces and institutions. Just having the time to reflect and discuss all of this together has been really amazing.

Adam Rose is a Trainee in the Exhibitions Team within Wellcome Collection, 

The thing that’s really stood out for me has to be these intensive weeks in my daily working life as an apprentice curator we must think of delivery all the time you very rarely get that space to hold conversations with like-minded people and that’s a really nice thing to have.

Why not sign up to one of our webinars to find out more about our Curator Degree Apprenticeship MA?

MA Curating apprentices at MIMA

Find out more about Degree Apprenticeships available at Teesside University – Teesside University is an outstanding provider for Higher Apprenticeships (Ofsted further education and skills inspection report 2019).

Art Psychotherapy at Teesside

In September 2023 the School of Arts & Creative Industries launched a new Arts Therapist apprenticeship. Here we catch up with Course Leader Dr. Kelly Jayne to find out a little bit more about the course.

Could you give a brief overview of the course?

I’m very proud to be the Course Leader for such a rich and innovative course. Our course, carefully designed within the School of Arts & Creative Industries, is currently the only MSc Art Psychotherapy Degree Apprenticeship in England and has the potential to offer a dynamic, exciting, and personally rewarding career. The course offers a broad understanding of Art Psychotherapy, covering a range of clinical, theoretical, and practical components. Furthermore, pioneering Art Psychotherapists such as Prof Val Huet, Dr Jed Jerwood, Dr Simon Hackett and Dr Chris Wood (to name a few) contribute towards to the delivery of the course, adding value and expertise to the apprentice’ experience  The course is Health and Care Professions Council approved and on completion, apprentices can register with the HCPC as a qualified and professional Art Psychotherapist, ready for practice.

Art Psychotherapy materials

Tell me about the benefits to learners (apprentices)

Our course is a blended low residency model of delivery.  This means learners can attend lectures and seminars online in the comfort of their own home or employment setting. This also enables inclusivity as  people from anywhere in England can access our training.  Learners also attend three 5-days, in-person, intensive experiential weeks over the duration of the course where they can emerge themselves in the learning without distraction, meet their other cohort group members, meet Art Psychotherapist Guest Lecturers and access Teesside University facilities and MIMA, our amazing art gallery which is part of the School of Arts and Creative Industries.  As well as completing with an apprenticeship, they exit the course with an MSc Art Psychotherapy degree, and they will also have the additional opportunity to engage in the delivery of arts research projects within our upcoming Arts Research Clinic (ARCH) and even co-write articles for publication!

Learners engaging with course activities

I’m interested to know, what is the impact of an Art Psychotherapist?

An Art Psychotherapist’s task is to support processes of emotional integration by providing a safe, reliable, and therapeutic environment within which the patient or client can create and use art-making to express thoughts and feelings, leading to personal insight and positive change. Sometimes talking therapies are not appropriate for a patient or client due to a variety of reasons. An Art Psychotherapist offers an alternative intervention where words are not the only form of communication or expression. The creative process offers a non-intimidating way for a patient or client to start exploring their thoughts and feelings, building confidence and choice in how, what, and when they share. The image can hold the material until a patient is ready to discuss is.

Dr Kelly Jayne introducing Guest Speakers during an intensive learning week

So, what advice would you give to someone wanting to study the course?

The requirement is that if you wish to engage in our apprenticeship programme, you must be in full-time (30 hours min.) employment for the full duration of the training and have your employer’s full support. You must have either a BA (Hons) degree in an art subject, or, be able to demonstrate a long standing relationship with art making. You must have an understanding or eager interest in how art can support healing or expression and be passionate about the profession.

Art Psychotherapy intensive experiential week

Finally, what advice would you give to an employer looking to send their employee on this course?

If you are an employer considering this option to either upskill a current employee, or to create a new post, you won’t be disappointed! Not only will your employee bring new, rich learning each week that will enhance their role, but their training will also benefit your service users. You will be able to offer your service users an intervention that is highly in demand, is evidence-based and it is extremely good value for money. Teesside University is proud of how we support employers each step of the onboarding process and throughout the programme. I would advise potential employers to attend one of our webinars where we provide lots of information about the course and there is an opportunity to ask questions. You can also contact us here with any questions apprenticeships@tees.ac.uk

Learners engaging in art psychotherapy activities

Find out more about our

Arts Therapist apprenticeship here


Other apprenticeships available to study at

Teesside University can be found here

Is experience more important than qualifications?

That’s a good question isn’t it. Can we do what we want to do without qualifications? Can we work as a lawyer; a doctor; an architect without qualifications? Of course not, but we certainly couldn’t work in those professions without some experience as well.

by Paul Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Media

As Julius Caeser once said: “Experience is the teacher of all things.” And he should know as he conquered country after country. Clearly for Caesar simply having a qualification in Latin was not enough. Most successful job candidates have both experience and qualifications, and both contribute to their ability to perform their job well. Qualifications show that you have the knowledge necessary for your profession, whereas experience proves that you’ve practiced working in your field. Which brings me to an anecdote about a boy from South Shields who wanted to go to university but hadn’t quite figured out what career he wanted to do. He did get to university – the first in his family to do so. He studied politics and history because that’s what he was good at while studying his A-levels. While at university he had to complete a 12,000 word dissertation for his final project. He decided he would write about the recent miners’ strike that had just finished. He thought it was a good idea to spend summer in South Shields talking to former striking miners, newspaper reporters, the general public and many other people about their experiences of the year-long strike. He came away thinking how much he had enjoyed meeting these people and listening to their stories. What job entails meeting people, interviewing them and finding out about their lives? Well journalism of course. So, after three years at university studying politics and history he decided he was going to be a journalist.

But how do you become a journalist? The university career advisor was very helpful. “It’s very hard to get into”, he said.

Student in the recording booth at Radio Tees
Student gaining work experience at Radio Tees

Undeterred the youngster went along to the nearest college offering journalism qualifications. He was accepted for an interview to get a place on the course. Things were moving in the right direction – it wouldn’t be long before he was reading the news on television to an eager audience.

What journalism experience have you got?” asked the tutor.

None whatsoever,” the youngster retorted.

Sorry you can’t have a place on the course then. There’s plenty of other people who have done work experience who want to come on the course,” the tutor replied.

The youngster had the right degree qualification but didn’t have any experience. So, he spent a year working for any media organisation who would take him – radio, television and newspapers.

He returned to the college a year later and was offered a place on the course.

One year after that he got his first journalism job as a trainee reporter on a local daily newspaper.

So – two years after graduating and five years after starting his degree he was finally a journalist.

Student in our recording studio at Teesside University

Wouldn’t it be good if you could get a degree and do some work experience at the same time? Doing it all in three years instead of five.

The BA (Hons) Journalism and BA(Hons) Sport Journalism degrees at Teesside University allow you to do just that.

Just look at what’s been on offer to the students since September:

  • Working with BBC Tees
  • Working with Reach plc – publishers of The Mirror
  • Working on the university’s in-house radio station – Tuxtra
  • Working with the commercial radio station Radio Hartlepool
  • Working for an international news website with a chance to visit America.
  • Three journalism students recently flew to Spain to report on an international quiz event – producing videos and written news stories about the occasion.

All great work experience opportunities available to students in first year; second year and third year in the last three months.

Ultimately, neither experience or having qualifications is more important than the other. But having them both can really make you go places.

Courses in the School of Arts & Creative Industries


BA (Hons) Comics & Graphic Novels

BA (Hons) Fashion

BA (Hons) Fine Art

BA (Hons) Film and Television Production

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

BA (Hons) Illustration

BA (Hons) Interior Design

BA (Hons) Journalism

BA (Hons) Music Production

BA (Hons) Photography

BA (Hons) Sport Journalism


Art & Design

Media & Journalism

If you’d like to speak to a member of our team to find out more about studying in the School of Arts & Creative Industries, email saci-school@tees.ac.uk and we’ll get straight back to you.

Art & Design Facilities video

Media Facilities video





Better the Devil You Know? Meeting our Movers and Shakers.

Dr. Laura Sillars, Dean of the School of Arts and Creative Industries and Director of MIMA, shares her thoughts on students who join us part-way through a degree course.

Every year students switch to study with us moving from where they began their studies to one of our undergraduate degree courses. I asked them how it had been and what we could learn from the experience of these brave movers who shake things up by taking a bold step and shifting institutions midway through their course.

Let me begin with a caveat – there are many amazing places to student creative subjects across the UK and beyond. While we all want to promote our own unique institutions, we do not want to do this at the expense of our valued colleagues labouring elsewhere. Education, particularly creative education, is an eco-system and most of us know each other and care about each other! Nevertheless, each place has its strengths. A series of discussions with students who have moved to study on our creative courses midway through their studies in their second year or third year gives them perspective on the differences between institutions. It has helped me understand some of the inherent qualities that our courses, location and institution can offer.

Here’s what I learned that our students valued:

  1. I see you …

Some of the very large providers can be great for gregarious, self-starters who don’t mind being in big groups and who can forge their lives very independently from their University life. Don’t get me wrong, we have many outgoing, self-starting students! However, I’ve learned that we are also a great place for quieter students. For those people, big impersonal environments can make them feel lost and they feel anonymous.

The overwhelming feedback our movers and shakers gave me was that at Teesside University they felt seen and heard. They were not remote from their teachers but were connected and coached. Their ideas could come through and they developed projects that genuinely helped them find and grow their creative voice. Treated as a unique individual they felt seen and heard.

  1. Staff
Associate Professor Richard Sober talking to a student

Linked to the point above, a third-year graphic design student fed back that even in his first meeting with an academic staff member he had the most meaningful and useful conversation of his higher education experience to date. Our staff listen to their students and are great at tuning in to what makes them interesting and special. Gently and carefully our staff challenge them to produce their best work.

This nurturing and creative care-taking is visible across all of our courses. It shines out in student module feedback and our student surveys, but it’s a value that is easy to miss or misunderstand. In short, our staff are particularly good at helping creative students become uniquely their best selves. This links to the students’ ability to get into the career of their choice – they stand out.

  1. Students
Students working with staff in the printroom

The safe-space studio culture that is developed in our school across all subjects means that movers and shakers can quickly make friends. Everyone I talked to had been made to feel welcome. They felt like they were a positive addition to the group rather than a latecomer interloper.

Also, while many creative universities have large inner city campus venues in high value real-estate locations, one of the huge benefits of our locations is that we have spacious facilities. This means that students can enjoy an environment which isn’t under too much pressure from other groups. There is dwell space and students can drop in and use facilities out of class time. Our movers and shakers really enjoy this capacity and it’s not standard provision across the sector.

Because students are focused on being their best creative selves, the working environment feels supportive rather than competitive. This is really important to our movers and shakers who reported feeling anxiety due to competition in other settings.

  1. Smaller groups
Staff and student in our Graphic Design studio

Even when we have larger groups, our students are predominantly taught in small studio groups and work together on projects. For some students who love the scale and energy of a massive studio culture this would not matter. For others, however, they feel that the calmness and connectedness of a smaller group can allow them to create their best work. This was a theme throughout.

Movers and shakers enjoyed being in an environment where they knew the people that they were working alongside. They noted times when they’d worked with the support of their peer group and had gained useful advice and feedback.

  1. Space and Facilities
Film and TV Production facilities

We have brilliant facilities. This is something that is easy for us who are immersed in the place can take for granted. Movers and shakers love the access to our wood and metal workshops, fabric printing, paper workshops through to green screens and high-tech studios. They also love working with our specialist technicians who helped them develop their wackiest of ideas.

There are many other reasons to study one of our creative courses, these conversations really helped put into perspective what we offer both new starters and movers and shakers. I have learned a lot from the conversations with this group of students about what makes our learning community and environment work for students. Thank you to those who spent time talking with me.


Find out more about courses available in the

School of Arts & Creative Industries

Undergraduate Study:

Art & Design    

Media & Journalism 

Music Production

Postgraduate Study:

Art & Design

Media & Journalism



Booming Film and TV industry in the North East

Charlotte Nicol is Associate Dean, Enterprise and Knowledge Exchange in the School of Arts & Creative Industries – here she talks about the wealth of opportunities in our booming North East film and tv industry 

Charlotte Nicol

If you’re studying film and TV at the moment in the North East – great work! Now is the time to be studying this course, congratulations on choosing a booming industry and an incredible place to live

Studying TV & Film Production

The BBC has made its biggest investment in the North East for decades as part of a new partnership with the region, and will be spending a minimum of £25m over the next five years to fund network TV production, talent development and support for the creative sector.

All of the local authorities and the combined authorities in the region have supported this financially (which, having come from a local authority I know is no mean feat, particularly as there’s 12 of them!)  The North East Screen Industries Partnership will jointly invest £11.4 million, over a five year period to deliver a new Screen Industries Development Programme, maximising opportunities for significant growth within the screen industries sector and developing a thriving and sustainable ecosystem.

Creative Cities Convention at Teesside University

My experience of speaking to industry partners mirrors this – at the Royal Television Society awards, I sat next to a colleague who told me that the number of entries had grown exponentially in the past few years.   The region held the Creative Cities Conference at the Boilershop in Newcastle, and Teesside University hosted the Creative Cities Convention masterclasses.  Our guests included ITV Signpost, the BBC, Chanel 4, Middlechild, and gaming company Ubisoft. Our students even had the opportunity of meeting Johnny Moore, the Chief Executive of Fulwell 73 Productions, possibly the most in demand man of the moment to speak to our students.  A couple of weeks ago I also had the pleasure of meeting the most down to earth and lovely Franc Roddam, acclaimed film Director, businessman, screenwriter, television producer and publisher, best known as the creator of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and the director of Quadrophenia (check out our scholarships here).

Franc Roddam scholarships for Film & TV Production students

My biggest take away from all the interactions I’ve had with people from this industry has been that not only do students need to be connecting with these amazing industry opportunities (first have a look at North East Screen) anyone hoping to enter this industry needs to build their soft skills as well as screen skills.

After reading ‘Tools of Titans’ which outlines the routine of super successful people, my favourite question to ask successful industry partners is ‘what do you do to make your life manageable?’ (I once asked Tony Hall from the BBC this when I met him and he told me he loved to garden and that’s what kept him going!)

In the film and TV industry it seems that resilience is absolutely key.   The wisdom that partners have shared with me is that any students considering going into the film and TV industry need to get thick skin and get it quick!

At Creative Cities I spoke to a screenwriter who told me about a very detailed morning ritual that involved getting up at 5am, exercising, having a cold water shower, and meditating.  I spoke to Franc Roddam about his experience of failure and he said ‘fail, fail harder and fail faster’, Franc said he had developed such resilience from all the rejection he received.  Charlotte Broadley at Channel 4 said that the best piece of advice she got was to be yourself be authentic and not to be afraid of getting things wrong.

Creative Cities Convention at Teesside University

It’s quite easy to talk about but hard to put into practice, the combined wisdom of all of our industry partners was that you can’t learn to fail if you don’t try things, get it wrong, and try again. 

Interested to find out more about our courses in Film and Television? Further information at the links below:

BA (Hons) Film and Television production

MA Producing for Film and Television

Chefs you’ve got 2 minutes: 5 lessons from the Master

Dr Laura Sillars, Dean of the School of Arts & Creative Industries, reflects on discussions with Franc Roddam about opportunities in the Film and Television production industry.

Renowned for cult-classic Quadrophenia, Auf Wiedersehen Pet and MasterChef, film maker, director, producer and one-time Norton-born Franc Roddam is a titan in industry. He is also known for his work capturing the complex lives of individuals who break the mould, such as the story of Michael ‘Mini’ who tried to burn down his own house as a child.

Scholarship Celebration Event (Laura SIllars, Franc Roddam, Charlotte Nicol, Lauren Bradshaw, Joanne Bulmer)

Franc generously supports a scholarship programme for Film and TV students at Teesside University and recently  returned to meet some of those he supports as well as a wider cohort of students from every level. Each session involved coaching and mentoring. Franc was honest, engaging and insightful drawing on his experience of working inside institutions such as the BBC or industrial systems such as Hollywood. Below, I’ve tried to capture the questions our students asked and our shared learning …

Question.1: How do I get my first job?

It’s a question that many students have when thinking about their first steps in the industry. From day one, our courses demystify the process of working in the creative industries, but nevertheless, jumping out of uni and into the world is daunting.

Franc says: Do the Hustle

Franc focused on the reality that hustling – for work, for your project to be commissioned, funded, developed, repeated – is a reality throughout your career. Developing hustling skills is central to all creative industries. That doesn’t mean you have to holler like a market trader. Hustling is about building relationships, pitching in small and larger ideas to other people’s project, always having your pitch up your sleeve and getting involved. In the early days, really, you’re pitching yourself – can I work on this film? Is there a role I can progress to? If this seems off-putting, think of it like this, if you’re always working in the service of a film or tv project, then you’re offering to serve not to self-aggrandize.

The more experience you have the better service you can contribute to the community. So, keep up with the hustle! And don’t let rejection put you off. You’ll be hustling throughout the whole of your career in any career, so get started now! Hustle your tutors for extracurricular opportunities, or people you’d like to hear from in class who aren’t yet on the speaker list; attend the early career sessions run by the North East Screen agency and make sure they know you’re up for opportunities; hustle your local film festival to create a student slot … whatever it is don’t wait for something to be delivered on a plate … be proactive, go and ask for it

Question 2: How do I find the area that will suit me best?

It’s important to know what you want, where you are trying to get to – but how do you find this out in the early days of your career?

Franc says: ‘Know thyself’

Franc asked the group, are you a ‘top down’ person who is great with ideas and likes leading a band of creatives? Do you want to focus on writing/directing? Or are you a ‘bottom-up’, skills-based person who seeks to perfect an aspect of the craft (camera, sound, light, editing)? Yes, to make it work, you might need to become both for a time! But, if you have a sense of your direction, you can build the bank of evidence that you need to share with potential supporters (employers, commissioners, funders). This will also help you focus. Franc suggested to the group that they think about the areas that they naturally like doing, ask their classmates, ask their tutors where they seem to excel.

Apply self-reflection skills. What do I like doing? What am I naturally good at? Think broad here. Are you the one who makes tea and solves conflict?  Producer! Are you the one who can problem solve the camera/screen/computer? Editor/Camera/Technical! Are you the one who goes behind the scenes and gets the props, costumes sorted? Art director! There are so many roles and routes, but finding one that connects to your inherent personality will let you thrive and enjoy your job. It will likely mean that you can excel.

Franc Roddam Scholarship students Jack Simmons and Louise Strike meeting Franc

Question 3: How do I build my career direction while making a living?

Your career will be long and rich and yes, you need to keep afloat and make a living.  Most successful people had their own challenges in the early days.

Franc says: Take calculated risks!

Things have changed now, but when Franc started he faced the chicken and egg problem that you needed be in the right union to get a job, and to get into the right union you needed to have a track record. So, instead he joined an advertising firm. He explained that as well as being a junior advertising executive he would also need to gain production credits. When he was offered a role at the BBC for a 9-week contract, he resigned from his well-paid advertising job and took a risk. This was the flip he’d been waiting for – the move from making a living while building skills to making a career. Note here the hustling, the self-awareness, but also, the risk taking.

If you want to be a director/writer you need to keep making things even as you’re making a living. This can be challenging, so think carefully about which skills you seek to develop to make your way. Focusing on skills such as production (from runner to catering) might be better than going for the technical areas where it can take years to build up the skills. If you’re a technical skills-based specialist by nature, you will need people to feed back on your work so you can progress. Ongoing specialist technical mentoring through experienced members of your field is invaluable, so look out for people who will give this to you.

Question 4. What about when things go wrong?

The students talked about the fear of making an error, or how to come back from a rejection or having genuinely made a mistake.

Franc says: We all have moments when we fail, get a kicking or have to take feedback. Learn to listen and reflect … move on and learn.

Failure is part of learning. This does not mean that you fall flat on your face and can never get up again. It might be learning that a certain shot doesn’t work, that you’ve invested in a scene that falls apart because of the weather, the equipment, the actors, the camera, and you didn’t have the tool kit to sort it out. Franc talked about some of his early experiences in Hollywood where he wanted to make auteur-led, politically charged films that changed the world. He was, he realised, in the wrong place. In Hollywood, you do what Hollywood wants. He talked about getting great reviews and dreadful ones, often written by the same critics. Developing a thick skin and not defining your success by external markers.

Yes, criticism stings, but learning to fail better is about learning to work out what you can extract from the feedback you’ve received … however brutal it might be. Get back up. Dust yourself down. Collect your friends around you. Take a deep breath. Keep going.

No. 5 – How do I stand out from the crowd?

There are so many people who seek to work in this field and our students wanted to know how they could make themselves distinctive.

Franc says: Don’t we all want to be special?

Don’t worry about standing out. Work in service of the film or project that you’re ushering into the world. You might rise into the spotlight or become one of the many thousand of brilliant people who contributed skill and excellence to make something happen that is bigger than all of you put together. Find satisfaction in being part of the bigger whole: the film, the industry, the community.

Franc had been reading a book by the art editor of The New Yorker magazine Adam Gopnik on turning ideas into reality in The Real Work. Gopnik notes that there are masters everywhere – not just the celebrated names, but swathes of people. You might become a well-known person in your field, but this might not translate into fame that goes beyond that field. This does not mean that the work you’re doing is not important. Far from it, excellence depends upon a community of professionals dedicated to excellence. So, don’t chase fame, chose instead to seek solid, meaningful experiences of contributing to projects that excite you and which will live in your imagination for the future. If you can tell a great story about your contribution to a project, that is a marker of success.

To conclude, our sessions with Franc were inspirational. I watched first year students have their concepts coached and creatively challenged by a master in the field. I heard second year students critically reflecting upon their productions. Final year students talked positively about the next steps in their career, and masters students spoke confidently about how they could influence change in their sector. I heard our students talking about their work, their careers and their collaborations with each other. They were just amazing.

I left feeling enormously hopeful about the future of film and tv!

Find out more about our  courses:

BA (Hons) Film and Television Production

MA Producing for Film and Television


MIMA Great Create Finalists revealed

We received over 90 incredible entries to this year’s MIMA Great Create competition, with some outstanding creativity expressed on our theme of the wonderful world of books. Difficult as it is to choose finalists from such an outstanding pool of creativity, our judging panel have decided upon the following 5 entries to go through to the finals on Saturday 18th March.

(finalists listed in numerical order of entry)

Entry number 25, by Hayley Harris

My illustration is inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book, The Secret Garden. I feel a strong connection with the book and characters, having lost a parent and being surrounded by wildlife and nature has helped to heal, give guidance and comfort. The scene that I chose to encapsulate is when the robin shows the way to the door and sadness is given some light and healing through nature. In my illustration, one side represents the four seasons in black and white, to show sorrow and grief. This gradually transforms into colour where nature heals the pain and shows light again.

Entry Number 25, The Secret Garden

Entry number 45 by Megan Keedy

I have created a photography piece relating to the books of the Twilight series. I have taken photographic images to inspire a dark setting with roses and gore/blood. Additionally, I have displayed my piece with dark red lights and more flowers . It relates to the book, by the end of the last scene with the fight of the vampires and the Voltari, and also the black and red robes.

Entry number 45, The Twilight Series

Entry number 53 by Rebecca Fletcher

This oil painting is based on the autobiographical book ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath. I was inspired to create a piece representing Esther’s descent into depression and regression into madness, to encapsulate the feelings in her book that could not be described. I intended to capture her breakdown, the horror and tragedy of her life and the societal expectations placed upon her by imprisoning the face with fingers. The possessive hands gripping onto her and confining the face were used as symbolism for the entrapment, anxiety and isolation that Esther felt at her lack of freedom.

Entry number 53, The Bell Jar

Entry number 61 by Tony Hamill

This is my entry for the book “Diary of a Young Naturalist” by Dara McAnulty. The book is written from the author’s perspective of an autistic young adult and is replete with scenes told from a unique perspective full of wonder and magic. This image is of grasshoppers and dragonflies in the undergrowth and is intended to capture the scene through the author’s eyes.  It was digitally created, allowing me more control over the process of layered objects and background details.  I used a process of pen and eraser to get a strong depth to the vines and undergrowth and make them appear intertwined.

Entry number 61, Diary of a Young Naturalist

Entry number 81 by Ayebabeledaipre Sokari

The illustration is for the book titled, Notes on Grief, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The scene is portraying the author writing down her thoughts in phases. It hopes to capture the forlorn moment of her pouring out all she felted about the death of her late father. The window representing a reflection of the past and present where she stays in-between thoughts. “Grief is forcing new skins on me, scraping scales from my eyes…. I cage my thoughts, I torque my mind firmly to its shallow surface alone. I am unable to quiet myself until I look away.” She speaks.

Entry number 81, Notes on Grief

A huge thank you to all entrants – the submissions were quite outstanding, making the judges jobs incredibly challenging. Our finalists’ work will be displayed in a pop-up-exhibition in MIMA (Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art) along with a showcase of all the 20 shortlisted entries from Saturday 18th March, when the overall winner will be announced at 4pm. If you would like to come along to the finals event from 3pm – 5pm please contact us on thegreatcreate@tees.ac.uk 

Take a look at our courses in the School of Arts & Creative Industries


Art & Design Courses

Media & Journalism Courses

Music Technology Courses

Performing Arts Courses


Art & Design Courses

Media & Journalism Courses

An Artist in Venice

Our partnership with the British Council Venice Biennale Fellowship programme opens up a unique opportunity for  students in the School of Arts & Creative Industries to apply for British Council Fellowships. Fine Art student, Leah Roberts tells us all about her fellowship in Venice

Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Venice Biennale, La Biennale de Venezia, is recognised as one of the most famous and prestigious cultural institutions in the world, standing at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends – the Art Bienelle is a world leader in contemporary art exhibitions with over 86 countries represented.

The legendary canals

Being given the opportunity to apply for a fellowship was incredible – the Fellowships programme is there to enrich the biennale exhibition, and Fellows are given the opportunity to spend a month in Venice during this phenomenal cutlural event, all supported with a grant to cover travel, accomodation and living costs.  For me personally, I wanted to be part of it because I knew that Sonia Boyce was exhibiting – I love Sonia Boyce and everything that she stands for as an artist, but also as a black female.

Photo from Leah’s Degree Show project

I ended up applying at the last minute and stayed up the night before the deadline, completing my application form, so I was shocked when I found out that I had been awarded a Fellowship.  During my time as a Fellow I received training on invigilation and public engagement in exhibitions and worked as a steward around the British Pavillion, helping to guide visitors and conducting tours to explain the work on display.  It was an incredible opportunity to develop a creative and professional network and I was fascinated to find out about different artists that I had never seen or even heard of before, and observing their perceptions of the Milk of Dreams.

Leah’s art
Leah’s art








Without doubt the experience has really helped me to develop my dissertation and my degree show project. I feel that I have grown as an artist as I’ve been able to see first hand people who create work like myself. I’d like to think that the experience will also help me moving forwards, to communicate my ideas to a more diverse and international audience. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’ll always remember it as the thing that I have loved most about my time at Teesside University.

Leah telling us what she has loved most about her time studying at Teesside University in our “Have a Heart” competition

Find out more about Leah’s course, BA (Hons) Fine Art here

Find out about our MA Fine Art here

Follow Leah on Instagram @Leah_roberts99