Meet our graduates: Harriet Warman
Based in the Scottish Borders, Harriet completed our Film Studies MSc in 2010 and is now Partnerships Coordinator at Regional Screen Scotland. She is also the founder of feminist film project, Behind the Curtain.
Harriet Warman gained a degree in Fine Art, and spent a year juggling work and independent projects, before enrolling on our MSc in Film Studies in 2008.
She completed her masters degree in 2010 after two years of part-time study, and is now Partnerships Coordinator for Regional Screen Scotland (RSS), working on both screen provision development and the growth of the Screen Machine programme, while continuing to run her own projects.
Being based in the Scottish Borders, Harriet is well located to look at screen provision and developing screen networks outside of Scotland’s ‘central belt’, for example in Orkney, Dumfries & Galloway, Argyll & Bute and the North East of Scotland, "connecting exhibitors of all kinds – full-time and part-time venues, community cinemas, film societies – to explore how collaborative working and communication can improve provision and audience development.”
In addition to managing RSS' Local Film Festival Challenge Fund, she's also working on ways to broaden the Screen Machine (Scotland's mobile cinema) programme and thereby reach audiences who don’t normally attend, such as with new strand, Films We Love, where the first season was world cinema.
Putting theory into practice
Harriet came to Regional Screen Scotland after many years of producing and co-ordinating film festivals, programming for Edinburgh International Film Festival (where she started as a student volunteer), working as a freelance film critic - mainly for Sight & Sound magazine, and temporary, project-based working.
Asked how and why she moved into the RSS role, and in what ways her MSc is useful to her, she says: “I was ready to apply my skills to thinking longer-term and I was excited to look at screen exhibition across all of Scotland.”
“The Film Studies MSc challenged me to really think critically about film, and not just the film itself, but the way it is exhibited, and that was the focus of my thesis, to look at the experience of viewing film. What I was thinking about then, and writing about, has become so much of the focus for exhibitors and curators.”
“I went on to put that theory into practice, and that analytical way of approaching film has been so useful for my work as a critic, a programmer, and now in taking a wide view of screen provision, communities and audiences.”
The MSc was definitely my first real taste of being among peers who share the same passion and commitment to working in film, and that really prepared me and gave me the confidence I needed when I started working in the Edinburgh International Film Festival staff team.
Across her roles, from the Edinburgh International Film festival (EIFF) to RSS and Behind the Curtain - a feminist film project raising awareness of intersectional feminism and bringing screenings to communities - Harriet has achieved plenty to be proud of.
Her professional highlights include securing funding for community filmmaking and feminist film screenings; delivering 16 events in 12 days during EIFF; and bringing local film festivals together from all over Scotland to meet and discuss their work, as RSS did with ‘Your Festival Your Community’ last year.
“If I’m honest however, being a person who graduated into a financial crisis, and worked really hard to prove my worth, and invested in professional development, perhaps my biggest achievement (so far) has been finding balance in my work and life”.
“I care about what I do, but I don’t have to overwork to feel valued. And no small part of that is due to how supportive and responsive Regional Screen Scotland is as an employer.”
A complete experience
Talking about her time in Edinburgh, Harriet says: “I knew the facilities were great and the teaching very strong and that I’d be among students who wanted to look at film with the same depth as I did. I also knew that [the city] was a brilliant place to study film, that the main film festival and the high quality of the course would be a brilliant combination.”
“I liked how much the lecturers cared about giving us a complete experience. There was the thought-provoking choice of film and fascinating film theory of course, but also brilliant guest speakers like Michel Chion, opportunities to hear from PhD students, networking, recommended events around the city, and the chance to audit other classes (I did a class in Visual Anthropology).”
“I enjoyed the challenge from the lecturers to re-examine what we thought we knew about film, and also the theories we were perhaps more familiar with than others. It was such a pleasure to spend that time totally focused on learning and seeing as much as possible.”
“Even though a lot of my focus now is on how to get audiences to see and benefit from cinema, I’m so glad I spent time studying films themselves, their making and what they tell us about the world, politically and philosophically.”
This industry is so much about developing your knowledge and your network, so my advice would be to follow connections with people whose work and work ethic you admire; develop a peer support group – some friends or colleagues you can meet and talk with about your work – and keep watching films, as much as possible!
Are you interested in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh?
Our one-year MSc in Film Studies explores crucial concepts in the development of film theory and film-philosophy, with an emphasis on European and American auteur cinema. The programme can also be completed on a part-time basis over two years.
Regional Screen Scotland (RSS) is dedicated to the wider spread of film exhibition culture, and to enhancing the engagement with cinema of communities across Scotland. We are delighted that, for the 2019/20 academic year, the organisation is generously funding a £4,000 scholarship towards the study of our Film, Exhibition and Curation MSc.
The Scholarship will contribute to the continuing expansion of film exhibition to audiences across Scotland; and to strengthening possibilities for applied exchange in the fields of film exhibition study and practice. Preference will be given to candidates who have been domiciled in Scotland for at least four years.