Capturing Success: Bootcamp Alumni Stories

22nd December 2023

Former Filming Performance bootcampers Jack Richardson, Hayley Salter and Debbie Hartill talk about the opportunities that have opened up since finishing bootcamp and how they have been practicing their newly acquired skills by filming the MBCC Awards 2023 in Birmingham.

Jack Richardson was already the Creative Director of his production company, Run Home Productions when he joined the Filming Performance Bootcamp in 2023. With a background in theatre, the ex-actor had found his passion for filmmaking as an escape from uninspiring acting auditions. He had successfully bridged the gap between theatre and commercial work by providing filming services and film archives for West End shows when he applied for the Filming Live Performance Bootcamp. Being primarily self-taught, he applied “to see how I could evolve my skills and find out what skills I was missing.”

student behind the camera
Students learn a wide variety of skills from industry professionals

In November he enlisted a team of fellow bootcampers to help him film the MBCC Awards live in Birmingham. “I have been filming the MBCC Awards since 2021, and each year, things have scaled up, and I’ve had to bring in more and more people,” he explains. “The 2022 Awards were a big success, which led to more funding for this year, ever-expanding aspirations, and a much bigger brief. I knew I could rely on Debbie, Haley, Lori, Robbie, and the people I had worked with filming the UniSlam live stream event at Birmingham Hippodrome as part of the bootcamp. When we pulled it off, I was thrilled because, as you can imagine, it took a lot of planning and preparation.”

Beyond filming awards ceremonies, bootcamp has opened doors to further unexpected opportunities for many of our former students. For Debbie Harthill, a visual artist, it has opened up new work opportunities within the creative industry: “I can’t recommend it enough. I now work as a marketing manager for a sewing and craft company. I can use my experience to storyboard the videos for events and workshops and promote them with really good content. I think that’s the biggest benefit for me – just learning all of those skills within the bootcamp and then being able to apply it to a real-world situation.”

Hayley Salter, a photographer and content creator for the arts, cultural and creative sectors, saw the bootcamp as an opportunity to expand her skills when clients asked her for videography services. “It was a really good introduction to the world of TV and film as well as the actual filming live performance and all the different roles within that,” says Hayley. The experience has enabled her to offer a more comprehensive package of services to her clients, encompassing photography, videography, and behind-the-scenes event filming for marketing theatre productions.

student editing footage
Student taking part on one of the College's Bootcamps

One of the unexpected advantages of the bootcamp was the industry networks and connections it opened up to the students. Since completing the course, Jack has been a videographer for Theatre Director Robin Winfield Smith, a visiting tutor on the Filming Performance Bootcamp. “She hired me to film her ScreenSkills course in London, and that was hugely beneficial to me. I also got to go to Target 3d Studios and see a working virtual production.” He has also returned to Solihull College several times to speak to current bootcamp students about his experience.

Haley agrees: “I feel like there are still things to do, like building my network. It’s quite a small world we’re in, and once you get to know the right people – like Eight Engines and the production companies we met on the course – you need to make sure you make the most of those networks and connections.”

Jack, Debbie and Haley’s stories illustrate how the College’s bootcamps effectively prepare professionals for the ever-changing landscape of live performance filming and provide a platform for ongoing professional development. Motivated by his recent achievement at the MBCC Awards, Jack echoes his fellow bootcampers’ sentiments: “I want to do more of this in the future. This is the legacy of the bootcamps. This is what it prepares you for. Here’s the success story.”

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