Oscar-winning film producer inspires students

The film industry came to Gateshead College thanks to a visit from an Oscar-winning film producer.

Lord David Puttnam attended Gateshead College’s Baltic Campus to take part in an afternoon of events hosted by staff and students.

The British producer spent 30 years in the industry creating classic movies including Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express and Bugsy Malone, earning 10 Oscars and 25 BAFTAs throughout his career. He now dedicates his time to educating the next generation on film and associated technologies whilst chairing Atticus Education, an online company which delivers interactive seminars on film and related industries. 

The college’s creative industries students joined Lord Puttnam for an inspirational talk and Q&A on his career so far. The film producer surprised the group with an exclusive preview of his next film project.  

As part of the visit, which was organised in parternship with Business in the Community, Lord Puttnam attended an interactive workshop delivered by Gateshead College IT students to help pupils from Colegate Primary School learn about the existing pathways into coding and software development. The computer whizz kids passed on their skills to the next generation of experts through robot programming and a range of fun activities including games and quizzes.

Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College said: “Lord Puttnam is a truly inspirational professional within the film and creative industry, and so we were obviously delighted to welcome him to Gateshead College.

“His presence and involvement in the afternoon of activities has been encouraging for all of our students. It is important that we do everything we can to encourage young people to follow their career aspirations, and with the help from visitors like Lord Puttnam, mentors and guidance we can help students realise their potential.”

During the afternoon’s activities college students from across creative, media, art and design, games, performing arts, A Levels, computing and IT and business courses were invited to a question and answer session, where they could discuss opportunities in the industry and gain career advice from the world-renowned producer.

The college’s games students showcased their projects, which included Lord Puttnam trying out a virtual world developed by the students for Oculus Rift.

Catering and hospitality students were also given the opportunity to showcase their skills on Lord Puttnam’s arrival, serving lunch to the special guest, principal Judith Doyle and local employers.

Lord Puttnam said: “Education is one of my passions, and I really enjoyed seeing the work the college does to encourage young people from all backgrounds to learn new skills from a young age. The team at the college are clearly very dedicated to inspiring not only students but the wider community.

“The staff and students at Gateshead College were fantastic hosts and it was great to speak to the students and take a look at some of their projects.

“I was very impressed with the games students use of technology to create a virtual reality platform. They are developing skills that will give them the edge when it comes to moving into employment or starting their own business. Virtual reality is certainly part of the future of the moving image.”