My Time at Goldsmiths
Vicki Psarias contributes this guest post about her time at Goldsmiths and what she’s been up to now (A LOT!).
I studied a BA in Media and Communications for my first degree and an MA in TV Drama, where I wrote and directed a short film Rifts about warring kebab shop owners in London. I LOVED Goldsmiths, my time there was some of the happiest, most stimulating years of my life, I miss it even today. I didn’t ever want to leave (does anyone?). In fact, after my MA, I was asked to guest lecture there and I still get butterflies when I pass the iconic campus.
I distinctly remember how empowered Goldsmiths made me feel – the creative atmosphere, that buzz that anything is possible and of course the skills and confidence I developed thanks to my course, lecturers and fellow students resonates today.
Goldsmiths supports and harnesses ambition, it offers students the skills and also the freedom to be whoever they want to be, to break boundaries creatively and to make a career in the arts viable and successful. That unique ‘think out of the box’ mentality so specific to the Goldsmiths ethos is contagious and ultimately liberating.
That way of thinking and working is something I’ve done throughout my life and career. Since studying there, even on maternity leave with my first son, I came off set leading hundreds and started a blog Honest Mum, which surprisingly, within four weeks was nominated for a national award and later became a thriving business reaching hundreds of thousands.
The lecturers at Goldsmiths, in particular, the late and most beloved John Beecham, encouraged me to write unflinchingly and from the heart and to take real risks; to learn to deal and embrace criticism to help me grow, and he contributed and will always contribute to my creative work.
John took a punt on me when he accepted me onto his course as an MA student – I was someone who’d never written or directed drama before but he believed I could, and with his support and guidance, was confident I would shine (even when I floundered to believe it myself). It takes one great teacher to change a pupil’s life and I was lucky that he and so many others during my time there, did just that.
As soppy as it sounds, I’ve actually got tears in my eyes writing this. I suppose it’s the first time I’ve put it into black and white and acknowledged how much Goldsmiths means to me.
The friendships made at the University have also shaped me hugely and have been long-lasting. Some of my closest friends and colleagues are Goldsmiths alumni and when I meet fellow alumni through my writing and blogging work, we instantly share that knowing connection of having experienced glorious Goldsmiths (and Club Sandwich on a Wednesday of course).
My time at Goldsmiths quite simply nourished me and fuelled my ambition to leave uni and grab opportunities with both hands. I started at Redbus, now Lionsgate UK, soon after my MA and quickly learnt so much, the ins and outs of working from script to screen across all areas from development to press and advertising, before leaving to shoot my second short film Broken, which garnered many awards and led me to become a freelance director shooting TV documentary, drama, commercials, fashion films and music videos.
Now I use all those skills, as a director, producer, negotiator and focus my attention on my main career: my blogs and no day is the same, from working and featuring in campaign films for brands like NIVEA and bareMinerals to travelling the world reviewing holidays (it’s a hard job hey) to working with Netflix reviewing film and TV content, blogging for other sites like Time Out and Grazia Daily, and of course writing honestly about juggling parenting and freelance life.
I also have a TV series in development with a well-known production company, funnily enough, based on my short MA film (the cycle of creative life huh)!
And there have been so many highlights since Goldsmiths, my two beautiful boys and incredible husband of course and work-wise, seeing my pieces on TV around the globe, picking up awards at international film festivals and my blogs which surprise me daily.
With hundreds of thousands reading about my life and having worked with Google and Yahoo among others, as well as appearing in British Vogue and Grazia Daily, garnering modelling contracts for brands such as Nova Harley and being able to offer my children experiences they’ll treasure, I feel grateful to have a fulfilling job that offers me a great quality of life that works for my family.
Goldsmiths gave me the courage to constantly redefine myself and my work at different junctures in my life and blogging is no different. The uni’s goal was to get the best of you, nurturing you while pushing you out of your comfort zone which is something I do constantly. Studying there was about being true to yourself and telling the stories that matter to you – a running theme in my life and career now. At a time when many women fear their future, career-wise on maternity leave I ended up building a business.
My fellow alumni…
I’m deeply proud to be part of a huge body of talented, creatively courageous alumni. There are so many who inspire me, and not just alumni but also former lecturers who taught there, like Kenneth Draper whom I met by chance after uni, and I admire hugely: his art is so emotive and stirring.
The brilliant Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen is a shining star we’re all in awe of. Sam Taylor-Johnson too, whom I was lucky enough to meet. Her original art installations affected my own directing work, and now she is a powerhouse, leading Hollywood films. Someone unafraid of challenging preconceived notions and just being fearless and herself.
There so many Goldsmiths heroes: Katy B, Mary Quant, Lucian Freud, Alex James, Shazia Mirza! Then, of course, great friends of mine such as the brilliant feature filmmaker Amancay Tapia who encouraged me to start my blog in the first place, when I felt rather lost and alone; I have a lot to thank her for.
Pondering on what I would tell myself as a student now, looking back…
I’d reassure myself that things would turn out OK, better than OK: well in fact. But my career would always take new turns and twists…
It’s scary to pursue a media career after university, it’s unknown territory and it can be an unstable career, but had I known that everything which had come before my current career as a professional blogger, would have contributed and enhanced it, oh and that kids wouldn’t mean a career-fail (they’d, in fact, help you reach new creative heights and make you happier than ever), I would have felt a bit more relaxed and less in a rush.
Oh and that it’s OK if you don’t meet ‘the one’ at uni (thanks Mum for worrying me) because I met my husband after I’d graduated!
Guest post by Vicki Psarias (BA Media and Communications, 2002 and MA Television Drama, 2003), a 34-year old multi-award winning filmmaker, critically acclaimed professional blogger of Honest Mum and Mummys Got Style and mum of two.