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University of Portsmouth Film and TV student directs Pixie Lott music videos

James directing Pixie on set. Photo credit – Paul Meacham.

James Dunlop, a University of Portsmouth MSc Film and Television student has just directed two Christmas music videos starring Pixie Lott.

James Dunlop is a 31 year old part-time Masters student, and has directed the two Christmas music shoots starring the well known popstar. Featuring the ITV The Voice Kids judge and musicians from The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, the music videos are a welcome addition to the examples of professional work from the talented student collective at the University.

James says: “Working with Pixie on these two music videos was an absolute privilege, it makes my job incredibly easy when you’re in the company of such a hard-working professional on set. She was open and receptive throughout to the ideas presented, and willingly took part in the ‘journey’ we’d devised for her to act out over the course of each video. Abiding with COVID guidelines certainly made filming trickier but with a dedicated, and fantastic, Production Manager as well as an additional COVID supervisor the challenges were overcome. I hope the fun and festive cheer we had on set really shows in the final release. It was a pleasure working with Pixie, the production team and the musicians on these films.”

Filming on set for approximately three hours each shoot, James directed two music videos – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Fairytale of New York – both Christmas classics and licensed with Sony and Universal Music. The latter utilises a traditional wine bar set, appropriate for the style and lyrics of The Pogues’ popular festive song, but designed to work within the current COVID guidelines. In stark contrast, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas sees Ms Lott descend a grand staircase to an impressive, decorated Christmas tree and fireplace which allows her to toast marshmallows at the end.

James has directed and produced many music videos and broadcasts, with millions of views to his name, and continues to develop his skill set whilst jointly studying on the Film and Television MSc under the direction of Course Leader, Dr Searle Kochberg.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying the Masters course”, says James. “Joining in September and studying part-time whilst also working in the industry allows me to develop both professionally and academically at the same time, and at a fantastic rate. The possibilities and avenues to study on the course are endless, be it drama, documentary, factual, script-writing; and to have the freedom to individually develop and flourish at the level required for that chosen professional industry is truly a career booster. With personal projects undertaken alongside the opportunity to give the University’s lecturers a grilling on their first-hand knowledge, it’s playing out to be a safe space for myself to develop new methods during both the creative stage and through to production and fruition. I’m already able to apply skills learnt in only a few months under Searle’s leadership and I’m excited to progress through my studies and career development with the University’s guidance.”

Dr Searle Kochberg, who leads the Film and Television MSc course at the University of Portsmouth, said: “We are so proud of James. Not only is he a dedicated student, but he brings added value to the University with his substantial professional background in TV and Broadcasting directing and producing.”

James lives outside Portsmouth with his wife, young daughter, dog and three chickens.

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