Young Brits are proving digital dunces??

This is a response I wrote to an article by Arvind Ethan David in Screen International, a little while ago (Sept. 09). He argued that:

“UK undergraduates aspiring to film industry jobs lag dramatically behind their international peers in their understanding of the online world and of technology in general…Film, English and drama students who comprise the vast majority of entry-level applicants to UK film companies are total laggards – downright tech-dunces. Muggles, basically. Moreover, many of these youths take some strange, rueful pride in their lack of tech skills and experience – a mutated version of the “chatrooms and computer games are for geeks, we read poetry, drink wine and wear polo-necks while trying to sleep with each other” attitude that I remember from my own university days, a dozen years ago.”

I obviously disagreed…

Hi Arvind,

I just read your article in the last edition of Screen and I have mixed feelings.

As a 20-something myself, and someone who has every intention of one day managing to infiltrate the film industry, I disagree that “youths take some strange, rueful pride in their lack of tech skills and experience”. Perhaps I’m not the best example – I blog, play MMORPGS, use my iphone for almost as much as it is capable of and spend much of my day using a computer in one way or another. However, any lack of experience in using programs such as google docs, wikis, and “everday software packages” such as Excel, Powerpoint and Project is derived simply from a lack of necessity to use them! Unless you are already in the industry (or in any office industry) the circumstances just don’t arise. Perhaps you are right and that these skills need to be taught earlier in school and college and I wouldn’t debate that, but since we’re not really in control of our educational curriculum would it not be unfair to hold it against us?

In addition, I can’t speak for my peers, but my attitude is more along the lines of: Is learning each new technology and keeping up with the technology race really the best spent use of my time and energies? Should I not instead be watching the movies I aspire to one day be making, writing the screenplays that I hope to get read and produced, or even totally unrelated – learning an instrument, a language…?

I initially wrote my feelings were mixed, which they are. For instance, I agree with the link between artistry and technology and the examples you gave, and I also liked your referencing Whitney Houston, when the sentiment expressed is so true, “Teach them well…let them lead the way”. But do you really consider that you are backing that ideology, helping teach and helping lead, when your next line is: “we’ll continue to recruit our interns from the US”?

Thanks for a thought provoking article either way. I’ll look forward to more!


You can read Arvind Ethan David‘s blog at and the full Screen International article can be read HERE

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