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Welcome Pack: Behind the Scenes


A map showing some of the key places for Film Studies students

This year I had the pleasure of working on the 2015-2016 Welcome Pack. This is the first time that we’ve provided a welcome pack for new students and so I had to think carefully both about what to include and how best to present the department to new students.

Step 1: The Meeting

When I met with Dr Rice and Dr Donaldson to discuss what we wanted to do, we were all really excited and had lots of ideas. Soon we realized that we were about to create a 600-page document and so decided that we needed to focus on a few key bits of information. Thus began the selection process.

Step 2: The Selection Process

As much as I wanted to make that 600 page welcome pack, I knew that we had to include only the absolute essential information. It is helpful for a new student to know who the Head of the Department is and see the school president in advance and so we included welcome letters from both. Likewise, the Freshers’ Week with its 1001 events can be a little overwhelming, and so it’s helpful to know where the film events will be in advance. I remember that during my Freshers’ week I discovered that the Department of Film Studies was holding a welcome drinks party only about 10 minutes before the party. Joining in was a last minute decision, but I’m so glad I went along. I got to know most of my lecturers at that reception and met some of my best friends, whom I might not have had the chance to interact with under other circumstances. It was also a great place to talk with older students who already had some great advice to give!

Step 3: The Quote Board

Speaking of advice—I wanted to make sure that the incoming students had the chance to hear some other student opinions before starting their Film Studies journey. This meant going out and asking both sub-honours and honours students about their opinions before presenting them in a more appealing way. A lot of people (whether I knew them personally or not) provided really helpful comments. Some of the best advice came from Grace Card, who said:

“When you start writing about film, don’t think of it as just a story but as a text, with many different elements providing meaning. Take away sound, movement, colour or image and there will still be something vital remaining of the film. What do each of these parts contribute? How much can you remove before it is no longer the same film? And try to read almost as much as you watch. A film is one critical text and an article or a textbook is another, and they can be thought and written about in the same quantities (although your own ideas are just as important!).”

Step 4: The Map

As everybody soon gets to know, it is practically impossible to get lost in St Andrews—and yet as everybody knows, it is very easy to get lost in St Andrews as an incoming student. The general university map is amazing; but it rarely shows where exactly your classes are.

Given this, I had to make a map specifically tailored for Film Studies. I greatly enjoyed photographing the town for this purpose. St Andrews indeed looks beautiful under any weather conditions. (Special thanks to Dana Friedkin for all her help with these!)

Fidan Gasimova