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With lockdown restrictions forcing the majority of university education online, Television Production students at Solent have found creative ways to continue their learning and develop their skills during the Covid-19 pandemic.

11th March 2021

With lockdown restrictions forcing the majority of university education online, Television Production students at Solent have found creative ways to continue their learning and develop their skills during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The television industry had to act swiftly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic”, says Kate O’Driscoll, Senior Lecturer in Television Production. “Overnight, productions came to a halt. Schedules were filled with repeats and very little new content was appearing. As restrictions continued the industry was forced to get to grips with new ways of creating content in a Covid-safe way”. She continued.

“By the end of the summer, we were beginning to see some exciting things appearing on our screens. The brilliantly funny Staged (BBC1) with Michael Sheen and David Tennant playing fictionalised versions of themselves trying to rehearse remotely for a play. Documentary content has also flourished again - Surviving Covid (C4), filmed over the course of six months at King's College Hospital, London.

In the same way as the TV industry has rapidly adapted to these challenges, so too have Solent BA (Hons) TV Production students. On an 80% practical course, Solent television students have continued to produce innovative and inspiring content - proving they can work flexibly and creatively, despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

The students were tasked with developing and producing short videos that reflect the weird and wonderful ways that Covid has become part of our everyday lives. The client for these films was Solent TV - the university’s own web channel. Projects included 2-4-6 - a moving journey through the first term of the 2020/21 academic year for four second-year students, one of whom was studying remotely from Costa Rica.

One student that worked on 2-4-6 was Daisy Cross, who shares her story below of how working on this production helped overcome her fears about online working;

“At the beginning of last semester there was the feeling of fear, 'how was I going to form friendships?' 'What if my work isn’t good enough because of the pandemic in the way?' With such a group orientated course I was really panicked that online learning wouldn’t work well.

The initial idea for 2-4-6 came to mind pretty quickly. As soon as I was told about the brief 'weird and wonderful' I just knew straight away that the weirdest part of this, is the fact that my group were all in different countries, this way of group work was new to everyone. And in complete honesty... we had no idea how it’s going to pan out! But no matter what I had faith, I was hopeful, I knew it was going to be a great piece of work and that’s why this film fits the brief so well. Our lives right then as we knew it, that’s what you call ‘weird and wonderful’ it would have been silly not to tell our stories. The film is about four students just being themselves, and that’s what we did. the emotion, the passion the friendships… it’s all real.

Even though it was all over Zoom our group had so much guidance and feedback. Every single week our lecturers would spend time with us helping develop our ideas and put them together. Of course online learning was a struggle, but I don’t think any of us on this course would have done anywhere near as well, if it wasn’t for the passion and commitment our lecturers have.

Being able to sit here and say I successfully submitted a piece of work during a pandemic, for it then to be shown as an example and bring tears to people’s eyes... it honestly fills my heart and completely sums up the reasons why we chose to do 2-4-6, like I said in the film... ‘we are in lockdown but coronavirus is not going to stop us, and we are going to be amazing.’

It was a challenge, it still is challenging, being in lockdown is mentally exhausting. But I’m grateful for the chances we get to interact as a course in the week, its a breath of fresh air and I’m not sure how I’d cope without it! I’d much prefer to do it all online as opposed to not doing anything at all. Plus, this is life now, we’ve learnt something no one else in the past years ever had to, although it seems like a disadvantage now, its a life lesson and when we go out there and get our first jobs within the industry we will take everything we learnt this year and realise the positives, and actually that’s what’s going to make us stand out when we apply for these jobs.

No matter what obstacles are in your way, as long as you’re passionate and you believe in yourself then others will too."

This project and more can be viewed on Solent TV when it relaunches at 7pm on 22 March.