Meet Kelli Weston, a PhD student of Film and Screen Media at Birkbeck, University of London!
Student Spotlight: Kelli Weston
Current academic pursuit: Enrolled on a PhD in Film and Screen Media at Birkbeck, University of London (started in 2015/16)
Master's Degree: MA Film, Television and Screen Media (2014-2015), Birkbeck, University of London
Why did you choose the UK to study film and media?
I chose the UK because I had done an internship in film marketing in London the year before. I fell in love with the city and I also wanted to pursue a career in film, which has long been a passion of mine.
Why did you choose this program?
I chose Birkbeck’s because their Master’s program promised an internship following the MA which I believed would be a good way to build my work experience in film. Following my MA, I decided I wanted to teach, largely because I had had such a good experience with my professors at Birkbeck. I also wanted to answer a particular research question and I trusted that my academic needs would be met.
What was your favourite class?
I really liked Birkbeck’s British Cinema and Television (1960-85) class and I thought it provided a nice context for British film and television as it stands now and it also helped me think about how reflective cinema is of its society and era. I also really enjoyed a London Film Cultures course I did at Kings, thanks to the intercollegiate studying that the University of London offers. That course allowed me to engage with not just cinema but films events based around London, which also opened me up to thinking about film beyond just the film itself. I also was able to meet many different people like film curators, critics, journalists, editors, and other film lovers like myself.
Do you have a project from your time as a student that you’re most proud of?
At the moment, I’m most proud of my PhD project. I’m genuinely very curious in this topic as it is very close to my heart and I feel as though I have made great strides in just the small time I have been here. For my PhD research I am looking at the distinction between 'classic' Female Gothic films that involve middle class white women and those that centre the black female experience.
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learned on your course?
Again, I learned how to organise, how to speak and communicate confidently, and I also learned to ask questions, because in fact the most interesting things come about not as succinct, clear-cut solutions, but the dialogue between multiple perspectives and subjective readings.
What advice would you give to other students who are thinking about studying film and media studies in the UK?
I would say keep an open mind, because as I mentioned earlier often film discussions are not about being right, but about sharing ideas. The beautiful, interesting thing about film is that two people can see the same film in different ways. The important thing is to have fun and if film is something you are passionate about, studying it - its history, its mechanisms, the impact of media on culture etc. - can only strengthen that passion.
Fact about the UK that you think people would be surprised to learn:
Even though it’s grey, the weather is generally quite nice and it is an easy place to fall in love with, from the beauty of its landscape to the range of people you find all over.
How do you think having studied in the UK will affect your future work?
Studying in the UK has provided me with a strong support system both academically and professionally. I have learned a great deal as part of the industry, but I also feel that I have made really strong connections which I hope to be able to use throughout my career.