Life after LFA: Graduate Susanna Newman's Guide to Becoming a Filmmaker

18 July 2023

Life after LFA shouldn’t be a prospect met with apprehension. Handing in final submissions and closing the laptop on two years’ worth of filmmaking and studying should be a relief-inducing experience, coupled with a real sense of achievement. 

This is something BA (HONS) Filmmaking graduate Susanna Newman can concur with. Susanna graduated from LFA in 2022, where she successfully directed and produce everything from short films to commercials. 

Now, one year after graduating we wanted the latest on life after LFA and where her filmmaking journey has taken her. From producing the short film L’Hypermnesique to gaining her first professional credits as 2nd AD and production assistant, Susanna tells us all about her next steps and some top tips to help ensure you make the most of life after university. 

Why did you choose LFA? 

I wanted a course that would show me how sets run as a whole, so I could experience everything and narrow down my interests. I scoured the internet until I found, and its course breakdown seemed like it would provide all this and more. My first year confirmed that I’d made the right choice, as we undertook roles across multiple disciplines, something I enjoyed, before honing our interests and skills in the second year. This variation and emphasise on understanding how each department operates is something I appreciate hugely now I’m working in the industry. 

Whether it’s navigating the sound department or helping with camera setups, I can now use my varied experience to be more considerate and better at planning while on set.

Susanna Newman

What was the biggest challenge you faced before starting your studies at LFA? 

I wish I could tell my younger self to worry less about the fear of not belonging and that grappling with imposter syndrome is an ongoing process but one that gets easier. Thankfully, LFA was a nurturing and kind environment that allowed us to grow into collaborative and confident filmmakers. It gave me the tools to overcome these challenges, with support from tutors and fellow students that always made it feel like a place you could be your true authentic self.  

What did you appreciate the most during your time at LFA? 

At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think it’s having built a family around me, one that’s made up of amazing friends, collaborators, and tutors. You don't come up on your own, no one comes up on their own and now I get to say my greatest skill in my toolkit is my incredible network of people.

Susanna Newman

What was your experience like at LFA? 

Exciting, multicoloured and diverse.  

You’d go from working on scripts alone to seeing your vision become a reality on set, in the most fun, interactive and best way possible. Then the following term you’d be undertaking a work placement and getting hands-on industry experience.  

How did you find transitioning from being a student to the workplace? 

It initially felt daunting to transition from the structure that LFA provides, with clear goals and specific deadlines, to being independent and having to find your projects and path. But it’s what you’ve been preparing for, with two years’ worth of studying and experience, so I applied this knowledge and began to find more contacts, paid roles and bigger sets to work on. It felt like small but substantial steps towards my bigger ambitions coming true and confirmed I’d made the right choice by coming to LFA.  

What are your upcoming projects? 

I worked on a film after leaving LFA called L’Hypermnesique, which proved to be fun. It’s also one that we’ve had a successful Kickstarter campaign, where we secured some funding and an amazing kit with the promise of industry professionals attending the premiere, set to follow in the autumn. Aside from this, I’m also working part-time for a film composer, which has been a great opportunity to diversify my skillset and interact with fellow creatives from different walks of life and industries like video games, tv and film, commercials and entertainment.  

I also continued running for different sets, with my first industry credit for an upcoming film called Waterhouse set to premiere later this year. The film’s director, Samuel Clemens, was a regular teacher of mine while studying at LFA, which made it feel like a circular moment to go from student to graduate to on set and working together.

Susanna Newman

Has the course at LFA provided you with the skills you need to succeed within the industry? 

It gave me a greater appreciation for the value collaboration holds, it taught me how to be an effective communicator and how I’ll be constantly learning in this industry. LFA provided the right people and showed me that with hard work and a great attitude, as cliché as it sounds, anything is possible.  

LFA makes you a strong filmmaker if you take everything it has to offer and everyone is certainly there to provide you with the support you need.

Susanna Newman

What advice would you give to those considering applying to LFA? 

Cliché again but believe in yourself. Enjoy the people around you and the power of storytelling. It’s an exciting industry to be in and as Tarantino said in one of his famous interviews… 

If you want to make a movie, make it. Don't wait for a grant, don't wait for the perfect circumstances, just make it.

Susanna Newman

A huge thank you to Susanna for offering her time, insights and knowledge. We hope it proved helpful and that you’ve gained more insights into life after LFA and the filmmaking journeys our alumni take. We’re excited to see what’s next for Susanna and wish her every success in her future filmmaking roles.