Study master’s in Film Studies at UCC

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Meera Sankar

Government of Ireland (India) scholar 2014-2015

MA in Film Studies

Cork is one of the most welcoming cities that I had ever been to….But the highlight of it all was the atmosphere at UCC.

Getting the Government of Ireland (GOI) scholarship and getting to attend UCC was one of the most unexpected but exhilarating moments on my path towards studying and making films. I had barely set foot back in India after a year in Prague studying film when I received word that I had been accepted into UCC and had been awarded the GOI scholarship for the year ahead to do a Masters in Film Studies. It’s been an adventure from the get go. I began repacking my bags and set off for another adventure in one of the countries I’ve always wanted to live in, Ireland.

Cork is one of the most welcoming cities that I had ever been to. The people on the street smile at you and the baristas at the coffee shops and the bartenders at the pubs remember your name after a few visits. But the highlight of it all was the atmosphere at UCC. The staff at the film studies department even before my arrival in Cork had been extremely helpful and had abated all my fears with respect to suddenly reintegrating myself into an academic career after having only been into the practical elements of filmmaking. The international student’s office never tired at my endless questions of possible localities to live in while I searched for accommodation back in India and answered all my (now seemingly ridiculous) questions about life in Ireland, making it all seen less alien and more like home.

I suppose one of the biggest things to get used to when you come to Ireland for the first time is being prepared for any kind of weather. But over the course of a year you begin to get used to it and can just take a peep out your window and know if it is going to rain or stay clear and sunny for most of the day. One of the bigger challenges coming from India was getting use to the local prices being in Euros because your mind automatically converts it back into your native currency, but a month of mild fretting and you get used to it and 2 euros for a cup of coffee doesn’t seem as expensive anymore.

Life at UCC is one of challenges and great fun. You are expected to work had on your course work but the course allows for so much independent thinking that you suddenly feel so overwhelmed at the possibilities of what you can explore. The faculty encourages the students to think within and outside the box. As an Indian studying cinema in Ireland it was very exciting to be able to share aspects of Indian cinema that are not commonly known abroad and to have the faculty equally intrigued by the same. I also managed to meet a lot of filmmakers form Cork, Dublin and from across Ireland and Europe during the various film festivals that were held in Cork and across the country. Being in the film studies programme at UCC also made accessing such events a lot easier and faculty encouraged students to go and acquire as much experience as we liked. The two highlights of my stay were getting my film screened at the Fastnet Short Film Festival down at Schull in West Cork, and meeting Bond villain Mathieu Amalric and almost convincing him to act in my first film, possibly. I also managed to work as the second camera operator on a short film set in Cork, getting the Irish filmmaking experience as well.

But none of that would’ve been possible if the Government of Ireland Scholarship hadn’t been so encouraging and provided the opportunity and the means for international students to come to Ireland to study. The scholarship also puts you in touch with people from other nationalities who are on similar scholarships or opportunities from across the globe, making it more than just the Irish experience but a melting pot of international interests.

I was recently offered a job as the Technical Head for the Post Production and Cinematography department at a new film school starting in Mumbai in India; the school is called F.A.C.E (Film Academy of Cinematic Excellence). I was actually offered the job based on my Masters at UCC so there is so much that I owe to UCC for having gotten this job. Even after I move back to India, I’m hoping to work on a few Irish productions that I have been keeping in touch with during my time here in Ireland.

I’ve attached a few pictures of me on set working here in Cork. It was for a short film called Receptive, Totally Receptive. All the pictures were taken by Izabela Szczutkowska.

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