Why did you pick this university?
I moved to Bristol in 2007 and after living here for a year I decided to apply to University of the West of England in Bristol. It was the only Uni I applied for and thankfully I got in.
How would you rate the course? (for example facilities, how much time you had with your tutor, library and exposure to other people’s works)
I think it is a great course and there is a lot of creative freedom, which worked for me as I decided to start making films. We have really excellent facilities and our technicians and tutors are fantastic and bend over backwards to help us. Over all I feel the course is very good and I am glad I went to UWE.
The best brief you were given during your course?
If I can remember correctly it was called “beyond the frame” and we were encouraged to explore other mediums and different forms of printing. This led me to make my first short film and changed my practice completely.
The brief was open for us to come up with our own concept and I always preferred open briefs as they are more challenging and the work produced by people was usually better and more personal.
What inspires your works?
My work is mostly inspired by folklore and fairy tales and being from Iceland I try to use my heritage as inspiration and have done so in most of the projects I have produced at uni. Icelandic folklore is in many respects untouched and there is so many untold stories that I would love to bring to life.
How would you describe your works?
My films are narrative based and I enjoy telling stories, which is probably why I feel my projects work better as films. My photographic work is more editorial and has a certain quietness about it that I really like. Both parts of my practise have a certain style, there is a cold quality to them and also this quietness, very northern European I think. As a style I feel it comes naturally to me. Colour and atmosphere is what I focus on a lot when I produce my work and when people comment on my use of colour I feel happy that my efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
Tell us about the obstacles you faced when shooting in Iceland.
The biggest obstacle was the scale I was working at, I had only one assistant and I think that limited my production. I went to film in a very remote location in the east of Iceland, in a fjord that has no electricity and can only be accessed by boat in the winter, I went there in February. I had very little equipment with me but I feel those shots are some of the best ones in the film.
It was the biggest challenge I have taken on during my time at uni and I knew it would be, but it felt like the right time to do something bigger than I had ever done.
Your dream job is?
My dream is too direct my own feature films and have my own production company.
The most useful comment a tutor has said to you?
I think this is a particularly difficult question. I think the most useful comments I got during this course was when I was giving a presentation of my work to a panel of tutors and Julian Lass (photographer). They all thought I should become an independent filmmaker. When I heard this I thought, “well I can’t do that, I need to get a job that pays”. But since then I have come round to their way of thinking and am currently writing new scripts and looking at collaborations with other screenwriters.
And what advice would you give to people looking to start a degree in photography?
I would tell them to make sure this is what they really want to do as it isn’t easy, you have to have thick skin and be open to critique and it’s not for everyone. I would advise them to find a course that suits them, there are lots of different courses and all of them seem to have a different agenda.
Hugrun Dunn graduated with a first class degree. Contact Hugrun Dunn to offer her first job.