As part of a new end-of-the-year series we are launching, The Verse’s Alice Pierre had the opportunity to interview (via email of course, we didn’t break any social distancing rule) a few students who graduated this June 2020 from some of Brighton University’s arts programs. Today, we are talking with Alice Giraudi, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Digital Film and accepted to talk to us about her time at Brighton University and her art.
The Verse: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, your interests, how you got into illustration?
Alice: My name is Alice Francesca Giraudi and I am half Italian half Scottish. I have lived in different countries throughout my life, from Iran to Pakistan to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, but my hometown is Turin, Italy.
After taking IB Film at higher level at my high school in Jakarta, Indonesia, I decided that I wanted to continue to dive deeper into this subject area, so I chose to take Digital Film as a Bachelor’s degree.
I chose to go into film because many of my interests and strengths overlapped with filmmaking, such as writing, photography, editing, and organization, collaboration, and creativity in general. I also was not entirely sure about what I wanted to do as a career, but I knew that a film degree would open many different career routes, especially in today’s digital world, since videos have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives.
The Verse: What can you tell us about your time at the University of Brighton?
Alice: I am so grateful that I chose to take this course, because it really helped me figure out where my interests lie and what I could see myself doing in the future. It helped that this course was quite broad for the first 2 years, since it gave us a chance to try out and learn about the many different aspects involved in filmmaking: everything from marketing to documentaries to experimental film, taking projects from the pre-production stage all the way to distribution.
This prepared us for our final year, during which we were able to specialize a final project and dissertation. This would be on any topic of our choice involving digital film, since we were given the opportunity to find our strengths and our voices. Apart from the course itself, I met so many people that I will definitely want to work with again in the future, and friends I know I will have for a long time, not just from my course but others as well.
The Verse: What can you tell us about your practice, where you get your inspiration from, what themes you work around, etc.?
Alice: For my final year, I chose to overlap both food and film within my dissertation and my practical project. I am especially interested in the impact globalization has had on food as a cultural artefact and a commodity. I explore both these aspects within my final year projects. My short documentary, “Il Giardino” or “The Garden,” highlights chef and entrepreneur Maria Zingarelli, who owns a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Turin’s old town.
I was largely inspired by the Netflix docuseries Chef’s Table, as I love how they highlight amazing food while also bringing awareness to socio-cultural, economic, and political issues. I wanted to follow this example and use food as a platform to uncover issues that are apparent in Italy but that I believe are not talked about enough, such as gender equality, sustainability, excessive meat consumption, and overall the rejection of innovation to maintain tradition.
While I could have easily made a 30 minute to 1-hour film from the 10 hours of footage we shot, our assignment limited us to 10 minutes. My biggest challenge was to convey the story I wanted to tell in that short amount of time. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the themes involved within food, globalization, culture, and sustainability. I definitely think I would like to continue exploring these themes in my work in the future. However, I also know that I would love to delve into other uncovered issues that are present in the world, and use my documentary filmmaking to expose truths about our society.
The Verse: I think we can all agree this year has been quite strange, with the strikes and mainly lockdown, which resulted in online classes, as well as Graduation shows, and ceremonies being cancelled. What has it been like for you?
Alice: This year has been challenging to say the least. The strikes were particularly frustrating, even for the professors, since they were unexpected and not planned ahead for. However, what especially frustrated me was the fact that we had scheduled breaks from lectures in our schedule for the semester which were not used to recuperate on missed lectures. It was also difficult to keep up communication with my supervisor and I felt that I did not have as much support in the first semester.
This was the case even when the lecturers did come back. Since my supervisor was also the course leader, coming back from strikes often meant he was bombarded with work, which made it understandably difficult to have in-depth meetings with everyone. Summarized into one word: the strikes were frustrating.
The coronavirus outbreak also did not help, since we were promised that everything we had missed out on during the strikes in the first semester would be recuperated in the next semester. That did not really happen since uni closed in March, which, again, was nobody’s fault because no one expected an outbreak of a global pandemic. In terms of finishing my work, I was luckily in a very good place and was able to finish work largely independently during lockdown.
I was very lucky to have filmed my final project, a short documentary named “Il Giardino”, earlier in the year, because strangely I had a gut feeling that it was the right thing to do, even if it went against lecturers’ advice. It was filmed in Turin, Italy, my hometown, and I had chosen to film it with my course mates in November in order to give me enough time to edit and make a story out of the footage later in the year, even if it compromised on time I could have used to plan it.
Since I decided to come back home to Italy to be with my family during the lockdown, I was able to see the stark contrast between life in November and life in March, and it made me quite emotional to think that what we were able to do just a couple of months ago would have been impossible in so many ways. Even now that restrictions have been lifted, the regulations that have become a part of our new normal would not have made my project easy to make.
While doing meetings with my course mates about the edit, or with my supervisor about my work was not as easy, comfortable, and time efficient as it would have been if we were in the same room together, especially for the edit, I was in a way happy about being stuck at home because it made me fully focus on finishing my work. This was especially relevant for my dissertation, which I had been putting off working on for a while since I had been very busy the months leading up to the lockdown, and it was easy to put off since the deadline was so far in the future. In lockdown, I had no excuse, and for months I dedicated every day to uni work, which I definitely think helped me gained the grades I have received.
The cancellation of graduation was definitely disappointing. For many people, graduation is a moment you look forward to even during your first year. It is an opportunity to celebrate your achievements, to feel proud of yourself and your course mates of our success, and to have closure at the end of a phase of our lives. The aspect of closure was definitely apparent for me around May. I had been fine with lockdown until then, but since I knew that around that time all these events and experiences that would have happened was not going to, I felt more upset about it.
When I submitted my final assignment, my dissertation, there was no celebration. It felt as if maybe I had forgotten something, that I had not actually finished my degree. But I had, and I had not forgotten anything thankfully, and I had to accept that this was going to be the end of my degree, since there was nothing I or anyone could do about it. Our course decided to carry through with our end-of-year annual film festival, which showcases films from the School of Media from first years to final years. It was really nice to see everyone again and to have at least some form of celebrating our achievements from this year, which were made even more impressive due to the circumstances we had to work with.
I was happy to hear that the ceremony has been postponed to February, however. We will be receiving our certificates this summer, but we will also be able to say goodbye to our friends and professors, and ultimately have that closure.
The Verse: So, what’s next?
Alice: Next year, I will be completing a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking at Goldsmiths or Edinburgh University, or in gastronomy at the University of Pollenzo, in Italy. It all depends on how the pandemic will impact the courses’ themselves and issues concerning travel and safety. I chose this path because I knew that I would like to continue my studies and specialise in subjects I am interested in, that will also aid my future career choices; however, I was also considering working straight after uni and then going back to studying in the future.
However, due to reduced job opportunities within every industry because of the pandemic, since many companies are going bankrupt and are being forced to let many people go (therefore, no one is hiring), I decided that I would rather use my time next year productively rather than taking a longer break. For these Master’s courses, I will definitely need to take reduced opportunities due to limited contact and practical experiences, as well as whether I would prefer to be away from my family during this uncertain time. Once I receive acceptances, I will need to take many aspects into consideration which I would not have had to before the pandemic.
Here is the link to follow Alice on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alice.giraudi/
Sophie’s Graduation Show on the University of Brighton’s website: