Published: 18 November 2021

Day in the life of a Film and Video Production Technology student

Hear about a typical day on the Film and Video Production Technology course at Surrey, from final year student Emily Milward-Cooney.

Emily Milward-Cooney

A day for a Film and Video Production Technology student is really dependent on what project you’re working on. I’m in my final year, so my two main projects are my technical and creative projects, and both are very different. The technical project normally involves me looking at a screen and typing, the creative one tends to be more dynamic; I’m sure you can guess which one I prefer. 

“Variable” would be the word I would use to describe my average day. Two words? “Variably intense”. Three? “Variably, intensely, fun”. I would say that time management and planning are key learning curves for this course. Actually, you develop a lot of skillsets as the modules are so varied. Let me give you a little insight to what I mean by sharing one of my days with you: 


Aside from my undeniable love for sleeping, I try and wake up and go for a 10-20-minute walk, as I find it’s a good way to really get the blood pumping and brain going for the day.  I’m definitely a breakfast person so at 8:30am you can find me devouring a good bowl of porridge while I go through my priorities for the day (note to self: if I’ve got a really busy day and I miss breakfast I may or may not get a bit ‘hangry’ - which is always best avoided).


On this particular day, I have a drama production rehearsal directed by a colleague. My role on this shoot is sound engineer, and although I do prefer being on camera or directing, I like to try out different roles and learn as much as possible about each one. I’m hoping to work freelance after I graduate, so a varied skillset is a must. 

From the call sheet I’m given, it says I’m supposed to be on set at 10:30am, which gives me about an hour to focus on some of my technical project. At the moment, I’m writing a literature review on how screens affect human health - while looking at a screen. Ironic!


I arrive at 10:20am because when you’re working on set, arriving on time actually means ‘arrive early’. I meet the Director and Assistant Director in the Performing Arts Technology Studios, where our equipment is stored. We then load it onto a big trolley for transportation as we’re filming on campus today. Student films can be a bit hectic sometimes. Although we are taught how to use all the equipment, you only get really comfortable with it with use, so the more you use it, the better.

...since we are still learning, everyone helps each other with everything.

Setting up for filming is very teamwork orientated. I’ve heard that in the film industry, people can be a bit selfish in their roles: the rigger does the rigging, the Cameraman and Assistant Cameraman sort the camera, the sound engineer sorts the mics, etc. But since we are still learning, everyone helps each other with everything. Sharing is caring!

Once everyone has set up, we get into our positions and work for the next seven hours, with a break for lunch! Although in a student film no one normally gets paid, food is a good way to keep everyone satisfied with ploughing through the day. The morning tends to be pretty slow paced, but by the afternoon we really get into the rhythm of things. 


At the end of the shoot, we all help gather the equipment safely back into storage and go home. By this point I’m pretty tired… but the day is still young! I eat some more and go for a climb. For me, sport is a good way to destress and relax the mind, I always feel better afterwards and it makes me enjoy my night’s sleep way more, plus sport is a good way of socialising at Surrey. 

9pm – 10pm

As you might have guessed, I like food, so I eat again and maybe check social media. I look over to my laptop, maybe I should do a little more research for my literature review?   I finally get to switch off, and a productive day makes relaxing all the sweeter. I like to read as I slowly nod off to sleep. 

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