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Saskia Mollen, alumnus Film Studies

How did you choose a Master’s after completing your Bachelor’s degree?

‘After my Bachelor’s, I didn’t know yet what kind of work I wanted to do. Because the Bachelor’s was a mix of television and film, I had the feeling that I still needed more in-depth knowledge before I could start working. I did know, in any case, that I wanted to do something with film. The Master’s degree that was linked to my Bachelor’s focused more on film, so I actually just continued studying, but then in a more specific direction. As a result of the Master’s, I also saw a whole gamut of films, which helped me form an extremely broad outlook. Because film is more, of course, than cinema alone.'

What aspect of the study did you find most valuable?

‘It is great that you can choose your own research topic in the Master’s, as you often need to stick to one theme during your Bachelor’s degree. I also learned to think analytically, which helps you to make the link between films, countries and culture. The nice thing about a one-year Master’s is that the length of time also allows you to do an internship without having to extend your study too much. It ultimately took me a year and half to complete. The people with whom I studied are still in my network and most of them also work in the field. This makes it easy to approach someone when you need a peer.'

What were your expectations?

‘That I would find a good job immediately after my Master’s. That was not the case. I had a lot of knowledge, but I didn’t have any work experience yet. I deliberately took on side jobs at film festivals, film sets and also theatres, in addition to doing internships in order to gain that work experience. My network of fellow students really helped me in this regard. From talking to each other, you know how difficult it can be and you’re much more inclined to help each other as a result.'

What would you have done differently if you had to do it again?

‘Personally, I’m a real advocate of taking a break to think something through. I would therefore advise everyone to take a gap year between the Bachelor’s and the Master’s in order to work or travel. In retrospect, I also would have liked to do a second Master’s or, for example, the dual Master’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough credits in film courses.’

What advice would you give to future students?

‘Continue doing a lot yourself, do an internship and make sure that you gain work experience. I didn’t manage to get a job straight away, but I think you will manage to do so quicker if you ensure that you gain experience during your study. To gain work experience myself, I started working as a volunteer usher and after that behind the counter at the Eye Filmmuseum. I subsequently got a paid job there as a print coordinator and then as a programmer. Don’t be too proud that you have completed a Master’s, because it’s ultimately normal that you have to work hard and continue gaining experience, just like everyone else. The Master’s definitely helped me to work my way up the ladder, because while they also look at your intellectual ability and knowledge, of course, candidates with work experience are given priority.'

How is the connection between your Master’s and the day-to-day work?

‘I am a print coordinator for the Eye, which means that I arrange all the film rights by contacting various distributors, sales agents and filmmakers. I subsequently ensure that all the paperwork is in order, so that we can screen a film. Print coordinator therefore ties in less with my study, because that is more about arranging things and production. Last year, I also started working as a programmer and that ties in one hundred percent. That is about the film knowledge that you possess, the theories that you apply, the analysis of films. However, it is also about making links between society and culture, as in the case of many films: from Hollywood to experimental and independent. In the Eye, we therefore programme films from all eras, regions and possible genres. In addition to the regular film programmes, we also have special programmes in which we present film in a certain context, for example in relation to art or a social theme. We also programme retrospectives and permanent curated series, with thematic programming. Furthermore, we have various in-house festivals every year and we give space to curated external programming. And that is just part of what we do here; there is so much to mention!’

Is there something else you would like to share?

‘Go and watch a lot of films! As a student, you think that you don’t have any time, even though all those films are actually knowledge too. Moreover, once you start working, you’ll have less time for that. Because I have watched so many films, I have a broad outlook on what is going on and what is important in the world. Therefore, as soon as I have to programme according to a theme in my work, I immediately have inspiration that I can use a springboard. And that doesn’t always have to be all that serious either. You can also just like your favourite film because there is a good memory attached to it. Because when all is said and done, films connect you to the world.’