Elvina from Lithuania, cinematographer
Studied: BA Film at Middlesex University
UK graduate Elvina, from Lithuania, shares what she's learned about building a successful career in the film industry. Even as a student, her projects were grabbing headlines – scroll down to watch one of her unique documentaries, 33 Below Clapham!
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‘My career goal for as long as I can remember has been to be a successful filmmaker.
‘As London lies at the heart of independent European cinema, it seemed like the perfect place to start. But it’s not just cinema that makes England attractive – it’s the rich cultural scene in general.
‘At the university where I studied filmmaking, we had the opportunity to try our hand at a number of production roles and to use a variety of equipment and post-production software.
‘After a few months on the course I found, to my surprise, that a lot of my classmates wanted me to be the cinematographer on their shoots. I had never thought of myself as a camera person – to me the camera department had always seemed a male domain, even though that’s changing now of course.’
Elvina in the studio at Middlesex University
‘I have always had a fascination for the visual style of films, so I embraced the chance. I gained a lot of experience working with various cameras on both documentary and fiction films. I also directed a number of projects during this time, mainly commercials.
‘Before I completed my course, I was already doing freelance work in the industry under the banner of "Halfway West Films", an entity I created in order to market my work – directing and shooting commercial films.
‘At the beginning of this year I formed another production company with a business partner, with the aim of producing our own independent creative work. We now have a raft of new projects that will take us to next summer. In addition, I am continuing to work on advertisements.’
All in a day’s work: Elvina at work on a film set (left), and on location (right)
‘My advice to film students just starting out in the UK would be to build up your portfolio as much as you can while you’re here. Be sure to put yourself forward for industry jobs, paid or unpaid, even while you’re studying. But don’t do unpaid work for too long – once you make the transition to paid work, you don’t go back. And most importantly: don’t be afraid to take that job offer, even if you think you’re not ready. You may never feel ready!
‘Now that I’ve got a new company, my goal is to build up the brand name by getting our work out there – in festivals, online and on television. I am also keen to develop our team of collaborators, to work more with filmmakers like us who share our aesthetic. I plan to expand our work internationally, using my knowledge of my home country, and my contacts there, to forge co-productions – films that will be unique in their mix of two vibrant cultures and languages.’
33 Below Clapham, a film by Elvina Nevardauskaite:
‘I’ve found that I’m at my most productive creatively when I put myself in challenging situations, and when I’m forced to solve problems. Maintaining an open mind, keeping up with current events, meeting new people and having new experiences – these things also help to inspire me.’
See more of Elvina's work at Halfway West Films.