Taking part in film festivals in Venice and Berlin is part and parcel of David Bakum’s drive to gain as much industry experience as possible while studying at Queen Margaret University. He is a passionate film buff who has been determined to make the most of every opportunity which comes his way throughout this four year BA (Hons) Theatre and Film.
During his final year, David found himself representing his home country of Germany at the 2022 Venice Film Festival after being encouraged to attend more local film festivals by his university lecturers.
David was initially attracted to the course at QMU for two main reasons: He wouldn’t have to choose between his passions for both Theatre and Film but also because the University seemed like a welcoming place where he could grow into his profession.
During his studies, David’s lecturers encouraged him to attend local film festivals, and this has grown into a portfolio of festivals that has taken him to Berlin, Venice and even Iceland.
David’s story starts just before the pandemic in 2019 when his lecturer suggested he and his classmates volunteer at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival – it was the first film festival he’d ever attended. While the Covid-19 pandemic put festivals on hold for some time, the experience David gained at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival helped his application stand out when he applied to the German film festival, Berlinale. He was snapped up as a volunteer worker as a festival in 2022 and has never looked back!
David speaks about his experience applying for Berlinale: “It definitely helped that I am German. So, I have all this experience - I study film internationally, but I also speak German and I don’t need to apply for special work visas or anything. It was a great experience.”
After Berlinale, David was encouraged by his lecturers to attend the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival in Bo’ness, which involved volunteering in Scotland's oldest cinema.
This volunteer work really started to pay off. With his developing experience, David was now standing head and shoulders above other candidates and was selected to attend 27 Times Cinema.
27 Cinema Times Cinema brings 27 film lovers, one from each EU member state, together at the Venice Film Festival. Participants are also invited to critique the applicants for the Venice Days film awards.
David said: “I sent my application away and I had no idea if it was going to work out. Eventually I got the response that I was going to be in the jury - it was so exciting!
“It was an amazing experience; I am now the ambassador for the Lux film award for the European Parliament for one year. I do social media posts for them to promote it and attend events.
"Through this experience, I got to meet Céline Sciamma - writer and director of ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’. It was just crazy to me when I found out she was going to be the president of our jury because she is a real hero - I'm actually writing my dissertation on her work."
“I submitted my proposal before I found out about Céline’s involvement, so it was amazing to meet her in person and spend so much time with her discussing film. I even got to interview her for my dissertation and it’s just amazing to be able to have that resource - something that just wouldn’t have been possible without being involved in the film festival.
“I also got to meet a lot of professionals from different organisations, including the European Film Academy. We asked them if we could attend the European Film Awards in Iceland, so in December, I got to stand on the red carpet and interview the nominees. That was really exciting!”
With Berlinale 2023 just around the corner, David is currently getting ready to head off to another film festival and clock up yet more industry experience. However, he says that the support from academic staff at QMU has been crucial in allowing people to pursue opportunities like this alongside their studies.
David said: “The lecturers encourage and support students to do things that will enhance their studies. There’s always enough space to let us explore things related to our degree, as well as an element of flexibility as to how we get course work done.
“The staff at QMU have been so important in making this experience special - my programme leader in particular. I don’t think my course would have been the same if they weren’t so willing to provide me with such excellent support.”