John's Story

The skills I picked up were invaluable. Suddenly I had the groundwork to make films on any platform, anywhere.”


When I walked through the doors of the Camden Roundhouse for the first time, I was about to start the Bloomberg Broadcast Programme. After a few years through school making music videos for local bands, short promos for local companies and, in hindsight, quite cringey personal projects, I needed to find a way to take my career to the next level.

Coming from a working-class background, the course being free was a key element. It was also a course that was ‘set in the real world’ – i.e., we were producing real content for real people to watch with real industry professionals working their real jobs alongside us. So many of these types of courses are done within a bubble – an instructor, some cameras and a project with no outside world value. This one was different.

It was a transformative experience. As well as being exposed to industry standard kit in the Paul Hamlyn studios like the C300 and the Alexa, and being able to shoot and edit things way beyond what I was doing up until that point, the real value came from the industry pros we worked with. I’d spend every day picking their brains – How do you make money doing this? How did you start out? What lens would you use here?

There was also a real sense of being supported, but not coddled. Given help and advice whenever we needed it, but still being expected to be depended on, and given real responsibility. I also made some amazing friends – people I’m still hanging out with today!

The skills I picked up throughout those three months were invaluable. Suddenly I had the ground-work to shoot on any platform, anywhere. I had a heap more technical knowledge. I also had a mind that had developed to solve problems creatively on the fly, and most importantly a few solid contacts who had seen what I could do. This would prove to be key in my career going forward.

Back to the Roundhouse

Over six years later, I stepped back into the Roundhouse albeit in a very different capacity. The video production company I work for, Social Films, had been asked to produce a series of interviews with Roundhouse alumni who had gone on to be successful in their field. Being so familiar with the space, the charity, and what they do, meant that I could pinpoint the look and feel of the films much more faithfully, from one young person to another.

As I sat behind the camera listening to the alumni tell their stories, it was clear that every creative has their own path to wander. It can be very scary and often lonely, especially when all your friends are going into set career paths – which is why I think these films are so important. Young creatives listening to these successful people will be comforted by the diversity of how they came to be where they are. Returning to the Roundhouse was a nice touch for me, and a reminder of my own twisting, unpredictable path – although, at 25, I still have a long way to go.

John Harding is a Filmmaker at Social Films, a video production company based in London.

You can see the film John made with us, featuring Resident Artist Chisara here:

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