Next month I will be graduating. Over the past three years I have been studying Literature at the University of East Anglia (UEA). For me, this has been a transformational period of my life, stirring me intellectually, creatively and emotionally.
Whilst I studied Literature, in my first two years I was allowed to choose one module from another school and I naturally chose film modules. My second year film module was ‘Film Adaptation’. I admired the seminar leader, Michael Lengsfield, and the module content. Having previously dabbled in adaptation, this was an exciting opportunity to expand my understanding of film structure and adaptation theory which has laid the foundations for some of my recent creative ventures.
One of these ventures is my adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’. But I really can’t say anymore at this point in time because it is still very early days and it is still coming into its own fruition. I started working on the adaptation as my creative writing dissertation which I was allowed to do in place of a traditional literary dissertation due to my first class grade in the second year adaptation module. I worked under the supervision of the great Steven Waters to create something really special and I am so thankful to him and proud of myself. It is my most accomplished piece of writing yet it still feels like I have barely scratched the surface of this project.
In my first year I was introduced to Judith Butler. The first half of her text ‘Gender Trouble’ is filled with my scribbles of frustration and disregard as she beautifully deconstructs the status quo and lays the foundation for new wave feminism. The second half of the book is filled with ticks and ‘smiley faces’. By the end I wanted to read the book again. Its disgustingly wordy but wonderfully eye-opening.
Along with this profound reconsideration of gender norms and societal construction of gender, I was exposed to so many rich stories, texts and literary movements which have, as I look back over my bookshelf (which has doubled in size over the three years), had an immense impact on me and pushed me communicatively. By this I mean that despite the topics getting bigger (ending with the never-ending plethora of Virgillian research) I have finessed, but by no means perfected, myself as a communicator. The parallel between filmmaking and essay writing seemed to me to become tighter and tighter over the three years. There is a vastness to the world which requires an acute and directed vision in the world of cinema. One must be punctual, confident and purposeful with each and every stroke of cinematic form, ensuring that even ambiguity is artfully reflected and directive. I could babble for ages. The point is that I don’t.
The first day I arrived at university I met some of the people who I now consider amongst my closest and most loved friends. I hope that my occasional retreat into my room to work on a screenplay or develop a film idea was never considered a reflection of my affections for my friends. I remember thinking in first year that we must all be pretending to like each other, and secretly we couldn’t wait to leave halls. But then, after speaking with some other UEA friends, and learning of their less than enthusiastic inter-flat relations, I realised that what we had in Paston House, Flat 25, was genuine.
Whilst I still have friends at UEA who will be studying for their masters or are in their fourth year, it pains me every time I remind myself in my head that it is over. Even when I visit. I will never get a casual message asking “who is on campus” again, or “who wants to chill for a film night”, or “who wants to go to a house party”. I hope you see the trend of non-academic related activities. None of us studied the same subject. We all had very little in common. But boy did we fucking click.
I’m not going to name anyone because there were so many friends, film comrades, literature buddies and LCR party pals who made my university life. You literally made it. If you’re reading this and thinking “I knew Dan, but he’s probably not talking/thinking about me”, you are exactly who I am talking and thinking about. You were part of my time at UEA and I wouldn’t change a second of it for the world. None of it. I made sacrifices and tough choices along the way. Some of love. Some of pain. But all of which made me who I am now. I have so many fond memories. I have a whirlpool of experiences that I can only hope to be able to give some of it back to you all in the form of film and storytelling, the way I can.
In the mean time, Thank YOU.
PS. Stuff I made whilst at university: