Caitlin Johnstone, from Gungahlin College in the ACT, is a 2018 Capital Chemist Scholarship recipient. She used her scholarship funds to attend a short course on Introduction to Screenwriting at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS).  Read about why Caitlin felt the course was a very worthwhile, rewarding and valuable experience.

I learnt lots about character and story development in both short and feature length films, including concept, theme, audience position, structure, big print, dialogue and suspense, just to name a small selection.  The first day was mostly theory, so I had the most fun on the second day when we did more practical work!  The information complemented and extended what I have been taught at school, and the topics relevant to short film making were particularly useful – I have already completed one assessment piece entirely about screenwriting for short films, based mostly on what I learnt at AFTRS, and my expertise will be a great advantage in our upcoming practical assignment, in which we will be making a short film.  

Dr Jonathan Ogilvie, the lecturer, was more than qualified to teach the course.  An internationally acclaimed filmmaker, his knowledge, skill and professionalism were obvious – he delivered the information in a clear and straightforward manner, answering questions comprehensively.  He was friendly and approachable, and I felt privileged to be able to learn from such an expert. 

The course was very much directed towards adults – a lot of the examples shown were from movies I hadn’t seen, which sometimes made it hard to understand the references and I felt I was missing out on seeing the theoretical discussions in context.  However, I felt very comfortable in the adult learning environment and I had no trouble being a little bit independent, which proved that college is preparing me well for higher education and the real world.  

Just two weeks before I went to the course, the year 12 media and drama students at my school were lucky enough to receive a visit from Alrick Brown, award winning short film maker and Assistant Professor of Undergraduate Film and Television at NYU, who ran an amazing workshop for us.  What he talked about was parallel to the course content in many ways, and I think the two experiences have given me a really good understanding of the creative process of making a short film.  After attending the course, I definitely think that if I were to go into the film industry, it would be as a screenwriter.  If I do end up deciding to pursue this, it’s great that I already have some contacts and experience at AFTRS. 

Once again, I would like to say thank you to the Public Education Foundation and Capital Chemist for making it possible for me to attend the course.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in something I otherwise wouldn’t have, which will benefit my education in the present and influence what I decide to do in my future.  The scholarship has been very empowering, and I can’t express my appreciation enough!