A Level Film Studies, Media Studies and Creative Media Practice students from Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College (QE), Darlington, have taken their studies to an international level with a thrilling visit to Prague. The four-day trip to the Czech capital saw students fully immerse themselves in the country’s thriving film and media industries, whilst taking in the stunning sights of one of Europe’s most visited cities. Beginning with a tour of the famous Barrandov Studios, situated on the outskirts of Prague, the group were able to obtain an overview into the scale of a huge production facility where many blockbuster films have been made. The students were offered a behind-the-scenes look at the makings of recent BAFTA and Oscar winner, All Quiet on the Western Front, in addition to other box office successes including Casino Royale, Jojo Rabbit and John Wick. Mark Dodsworth, Course Leader for A Level Film Studies at QE, comments: ‘Seeing the costume and prop departments, together with the vast sound stages, enabled students to grasp the realities of big budget filmmaking and the range of exciting jobs involved.’

The next stop was the National Film Museum which provided an interactive insight into the history of film. Mark adds: ‘The students produced their own soundtracks, trying their hand at Foley Aristry to make a soundscape for a clip by famous Czech filmmaker, Jan Svankmajer. They also used equipment from the early days of cinema and explored everything from experimental Czech film to animation. The fact that the museum was established by dedicated Czech film students gave an additional source of inspiration.’ The group’s visit to the Prague Film Institute was hosted by producer, Viktor Kristoff, who has worked with some of the world’s biggest stars on major Hollywood hits, as well as on independent Czech films. Beccy Vickers, Course Leader for Creative Media Practice, says: ‘Viktor revealed the behind-the-scenes realities of filmmaking which the students found incredibly eye-opening. He discussed everything from budgets and casting to marketing, offering insider tips to our aspiring directors and cinematographers.’

Before travelling home, there was the opportunity to explore everything the Czech capital has to offer, including its historic Old Town, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the medieval Jewish cemetery and the new developments in the bustling modern areas of the city. Jodie Freeman, Course Leader for A Level Media Studies at QE, adds: ‘The students thoroughly enjoyed the trip, as not only was it a fantastic cultural experience, but it also had enormous educational benefits which they can reflect on in their studies. Whilst there, we hosted a social media competition which challenged students to do some filming and photography, and they put together some beautiful pieces which we shared on the Media department’s Instagram account (@qesfcmedia). They really embraced this wonderful chance to learn new things about the industries they are hoping to enter after their A Levels and university, as well as making new friendships along the way. It is the first time we have visited Prague, but we are definitely looking to return in the near future.’

Second year student, Niamh Creaser, who studies A Level Film Studies, Media Studies and Textiles at QE, describes the trip as ‘incredible.’ The 17-year-old, from Bishop Auckland, who has applied to study Film Studies and Media at university, concludes: ‘Prague opened up a huge range of opportunities to learn about behind-the-scenes aspects of the film industry. The tour of Barrandov Studios allowed us to see key props and costumes from movies such as The Chronicles of Narnia. As the film industry is something I am passionate about, it was really interesting to take part in the trip as it helped me obtain a more in-depth understanding of the subject.’