Newcastle University

HASS Series

Title: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Series

Delivery: 5 Films

Talent: Creative, pre-production, direction, location filming, post-production

What was the brief?

A member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities, Newcastle offers a wide range of world-class courses to a diverse student community.

In 2012, Newcastle and Spectrecom Films embarked on an ambitious and wide-ranging project to produce a multi-part series for the university’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS).

Each video in the series covered a different HASS course, and needed to showcase Newcastle University’s extensive links in the city and region, as well as how these links help provide hands-on experience for students in their area of interest.

And of course, the university’s videos all also needed to showcase the excellence of the university’s facilities and the enthusiasm and expertise of its academics.

How did we approach the brief?

Spectrecom filmmaker Matt O’Brien spent 18 months working on this Newcastle HASS series, initially as camera operator and editor before swiftly assuming the role of director.

The project was a major undertaking for Matt and the rest of the team, and required an approach that would be consistent without being formulaic. We’ll let Matt explain further…

“I felt a big sense of responsibility to make sure the films struck the right balance between appealing to potential students, whilst conveying Newcastle’s key messages.”

“We would shoot a film a day in three-day blocks, going up every few months. Between these shooting blocks, I edited the films whilst simultaneously planning the next shoots. With each new shoot, I got to know the city better and better. So when it came to planning the next film, I was able to suggest locations I already knew would be great to shoot in.”

“I carried out recces, allowing me to meet each course leader and the students I was going to be filming. This meant I already had a relationship with the contributors by the time it came to shooting, making them feel much more at ease by the time it finally came to press record. This in turn meant the limited shoot time we had could really be maximised, which translated into a better series of films.”

“I probably know more about the city now than most of its residents! When we were shooting the Urban Planning and Geography films I learnt a great deal about the history of Newcastle, which gave me a good understanding of how the region has evolved into the multicultural city we know today.”

“Another great aspect about working on these films was that I’d often find myself shooting in a certain room or building that not many other people get to see, which was pretty cool.”

“The end-result is all the schools at Newcastle HASS now have a set of films they’re proud to use across social media to attract new students.”


The series has been performing well online. Just the five videos featured on the playlist on this page have attracted nearly 10,000 YouTube views so far.

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