Occasionally I am asked why I have failed to list my qualifications on my resume. The reason for this omission is simple and obvious; I don’t posses any qualifications and I wouldn’t falsify my very lengthy CV.
Trust me I’m a highly intelligent person, offered entry to MENSA after taking a preliminary test, truly the reason for this lack is not because I didn’t have the ability to gain the bells and whistles of academic excellence. At every opportunity I was too busy, too young, or too old or not simply too tired to be bothered enough. This lack is entirely my own fault and responsibility but I did have good reasons at every stage.
As I’ve written previously in various other articles and blogs I dropped out of school early to rush headlong, and somewhat blindly after a career in film production. I was exactly 16, which was the first legal age you could leave school in those far off days. My father, who apparently had turned down an opportunity to go to Cambridge when he was very young prior to the war to pursue his original career as a structural engineer was more than keen that I went to university. To that end he insisted I qualified to enter higher education and then could take a year out to find out the realities of employment.
Following the line of least resistance and being a lazy sod, I discovered that you could then take the necessary tests to get into the California education system over the road from where we lived in the American Embassy. I remember my joy at discovering how comparatively easy it was and I was offered the chance at an American university, which I deferred. Approximately forty years later I think I’d better tell them I wouldn’t be taking it up!
I went on to start my career at the run. Working on wonderful films and for the Ministry of Defense via a small Soho media production company called Searchlight and even more fun, the Avengers TV series. From this run of work I found a friend called Mike Lytton, and together we started making small documentaries. Before we knew it the films were getting bigger and we even got cinema distribution internationally.
Now I was about 21 and had a burgeoning career. I thought it was high time I had an education to go with it. I applied to be amongst the first intake for the National Film School (it didn’t add the word television to its name for a few years) but was informed that I needed to have qualifications prior to obtaining entry. However I was offered the opportunity to teach one of the classes. I remember them telling me that the pay for the job was less than I then paid to my own assistant!
Years of a productive, creatively satisfying and remunerative career followed. I was in my middle forties before I returned to academia.
I found myself working at the Bournemouth Film School, first as an Associate Lecturer, then onwards in many roles including lecturer, Acting Course Director, Course Director, then moving to the Northern Film School at Leeds Metropolitan University where I was Course Leader and Head of Production for the MA Film Production and led the putting together and validation of their Foundation Degrees in Media Production. I sat on the validation and academic committees and then moved on to the University of East London where I was Director of the Media Production Centre. In addition to this I had two other academic and research Directorships and then became an External Examiner for the Open University Validation Service at various higher education establishments in this and other countries.
During this period I delivered academic papers at conferences and became National Secretary of the Association of Media Practice Educators and organized and hosted their conference at my university. I felt that the time had come for me to finally obtain some higher education of my own; after all I had been giving out degrees for about a decade!
I saw a Masters degree in scriptwriting at Salford advertised and applied. I was invited to come and sit their entrance test, which I did. I was taken into the room with the lecturing staff that told me that although I had passed the test with flying colors I should be teaching the course. They intimated that it would be silly, and faintly embarrassing for them if I took up the place on offer, so I didn’t. It was then proposed that I pursued a practice-based doctorate to accompany the film I was then making, called Full Circle. This would have involved me in running three university Directorates, making a film, serving as National Secretary of AMPE and now writing a few hundred thousand words for the doctoral thesis. I declined this opportunity.
So here we are, making films, writing books and screenplays, doing a bit of business and serving the Open University Validation Service, but still with not a qualification to my name but giving them to others. Life is awfully strange sometimes.