Dan Martland studied BTEC Media in 1998 when these courses were run at the Chesterfield Road campus. He’s since gone on to become a successful cameraman for ITV’s DayBreak show in New York.
Here, Dan recalls his time at the college and the new skills he learnt.
On the BTEC Media course, I learnt pretty much every aspect of the media, from photography to radio and films to editing. With all the practical hands-on experience with equipment and facilities, you really learn a great deal at West Notts. For me this was a great stepping stone into the television industry.
Being a camera operator was always a lifelong ambition of mine. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be behind a camera.
At West Notts College, I had plenty of opportunities to work on a camera where I learned a great deal such as shooting techniques and working with others was a great way of getting a feel for real television production.
Despite the hangovers from enjoying a lively social life, everyday seemed great going to college! A new challenge every day kept the brain going and of course, meeting great, like-minded people who made my time at West Notts just brilliant!
After leaving college Dan took a number of freelance jobs, mainly as a camera assistant. He then started to get opportunities for proper camera work for large outside broadcasts such as music concerts and Premiership football matches.
I was fortunate to get a full-time job at Pinewood Studios, London, for a film company. Again I was assisting mainly, as the film industry is completely different to TV. I did this for about two years and worked on lots of music videos, commercials and feature films such as Bridget Jones's Diary. The film industry really wasn't for me so I got back into TV.
My first real full-time camera job was in Manchester working for Manchester United Television. Here I picked up many different skills from live studio work to electronic news gathering, hand held location work and shooting news stories.
After two years of experience as a cameraman Dan then became a live camera operator for SkyNews, living mainly in hotels and life on the road, where he followed large news stories around the country.
Live television is very exciting as you only get one chance at it, there are no second takes - it has to be right the first time!
I then got a job at ITN in London, as a live studio camera man working on ITV news, Channel 4 News and Channel 5 news. Here I worked in the studio department, using mainly studio peds and camera cranes. Operating swinging camera cranes on the 10 o'clock news with Sir Trevor MacDonald watched by millions can be very nerve-wracking. You don't want to get it wrong or hit Sir Trevor with it!
Dan’s career then saw him move to Los Angeles, working for GMTV covering news and entertainment. In this role, Dan was required to shoot and edit all of his own material for the main GMTV show.
I was involved in so much in LA - from the Oscars to the Golden Globes, as well as film set visits to behind the scenes of music videos. Meeting and working with ‘A list’ celebrities on a day to day basis was run of the mill for me, although I did get pretty excited when I met my hero Borat!
After almost four years working in LA Dan moved to New York. It was at this time that GMTV was renamed ITV DayBreak.
While I still have the opportunity to work with celebrities, working in the NY bureau has given me some new experiences that I’ve appreciated. I've been traveling the country working on hard news and human interest features.
I've covered some important world news stories like New Yorkers emotional reaction to the death of Bin Laden, traveling to Joplin MO to cover the tornado devastation and tell the peoples story of how they will try to rebuild their lives.
Working in the White House in Washington DC with our Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama was an amazing experience to be part of this from the inside. I also worked on a documentary telling the story of families who lost loved ones in the Lockerbie bombings called ‘Since’.
A day in the life of a cameraman can be pretty hectic, especially in the city that never sleeps, but I wouldn't want it any other way!