In Department of Theatre and Media Arts, Experiential Learning

Film student Isaac Wright shares his experience while studying abroad in England

Wright poses for a photo in Central London. Photo courtesy of Isaac Wright.

Ever since graduating senior Isaac Wright heard about the London Film Study Abroad as a sophomore, he knew he wanted to participate. Because the Department of Theatre and Media Arts offers this study abroad every two years, Wright had to wait until this May, the last semester before he graduated.

“Attending this study abroad program was a lot of dreams coming true,” said Wright. “I’ve always wanted to go to London so I made sure I applied as quickly as I could.”

Wright said the emphasis of the study abroad was to introduce film students to an English culture and familiarize them with its art, intellectual achievements, and history. Wright said, “I plan to go into screenwriting, and that focus enhanced this experience. It was a great opportunity to be immersed in an entirely different culture, city and country.” 

The students stayed in housing directly across from Hyde Park. Left to right: Matthew Schaelling, Marcelle Leon, Abby Woods, Chastity DeMoors, Stephen Smilovich, Riley Jeffs, Lorenzo Hubbard and Joseph Seamons. Photo courtesy of Isaac Wright.

Living in England for six weeks gave him the chance to experience London in a way he would not have acquired through a short visit or trip. “This helped me expand my horizons,” said Wright. “I think the more exposure you have to new people, cultures and experiences, the better your writing, directing or whatever you’re doing is. That’s important no matter what aspect of film you’re in.

“The more involvement and participation you have, the more you can bring back to your own work. I felt very inspired by seeing everything there. It was definitely a good thing to do during my last semester at BYU. It was the culmination of a lot of years of learning and it was great to see it pay off.”

A typical day for Wright started with class at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Hyde Park Chapel. The study abroad offered five courses, and Wright participated in six credits’ worth of them.

His TMA 315R Special Topics British Life and Culture course gave him the opportunity to read literature by famous British poets and authors and to listen to the music of British artists and composers. Wright said, “I read Virginia Woolf and William Shakespeare. I listened to the ‘War Requiem’ symphony by Benjamin Britton and ‘The Queen is Dead’ album by the Smiths. British culture isn’t a small undertaking. It spans centuries.”

Wright enjoys tea time at The Shard, the tallest building in the United Kingdom, with his fiancée Savannah Tate. Photo courtesy of Isaac Wright.

Another class offered was the TMA 315R Special Topics Short Documentary Production class. The students were assigned to meet a Londoner, interview them and make a five-minute documentary about their experience living in London. “I think it encouraged students to reach out and embrace people from different backgrounds and experiences,” Wright said. “It built a lot of friendships that we’ve been able to take back with us.”

In his TMA 498 Film Topics class, Wright and his classmates studied film theory and critical analysis. “The program was challenging,” said Wright. “It was a full semester’s worth of classes condensed into a small amount of time. There was also the balance of seeing and experiencing London culture. I think our professors did a great job at giving us opportunities to do both.”

After class, the students would usually attend one big activity together and then have free time to explore on their own. They also participated in excursions. Wright travelled to Scotland, Windsor Castle, and Oxford. 

The White Cliffs of Dover are 350 feet tall and stretch for eight miles of chalk and black flint. Photo courtesy of Isaac Wright.

He said his most meaningful experience occurred at the Cliffs of Dover with some other students. “Having the opportunity to spend the day there was very special because it was a quintessential English town,” said Wright. “On a clear day you can see the beaches of France across the channel. During World War II, when the British civilian ships rescued the stranded soldiers at Dunkirk, this was where they left from. It really underscored how much history that area represented.”

Wright takes in the view from Arthur’s Seat, a small peak overlooking Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo courtesy of Isaac Wright.

“We went to many different museums and saw a lot of famous artwork. We also visited multiple historical landmarks and castles. But mostly we focused on international cinema. We spent time at the British Film Institute and watched a lot of movies there. My favorite film was ‘Lean on Pete.’ It was great to see movies that we would not have seen otherwise.”

One of Wright’s favorite parts of the study abroad was the London theatre. He attended as many shows as he could during his time there. “Some people say there’s a rivalry between theatre and film but there shouldn’t be. Theatre is just another fascinating medium to tell a story. London has some of the best theatre I’ve ever seen. I saw a huge variety of shows, including ‘Hamilton,’ ‘Young Frankenstein’ and ‘Red.’ They were all spectacular.”

Wright graduates in August and will continue working in script coverage for Endgame Entertainment in Los Angeles.

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