A former soldier who left the army to pursue a career in film and is now working for Pinewood Studios has won the Learning through Arts, Craft Skills and Culture Individual Award.

Dean Short, 24 and from Manchester, left school with one GCSE but later returned from the army to start a film and television foundation degree at The Manchester College in 2010.

“I didn’t have a great time at school because I was getting bullied and I didn’t really socialise with anyone. I really didn’t open up and begin to discover myself until after leaving school,” said Dean.

But, Dean said, he wasn’t nervous about returning to education, because his time in the army had helped him to “open up”, and given him the confidence to go after his dream job.

“I had a lot of enthusiasm and passion because I wanted to get into the film industry so much. Everyone was saying ‘slow down a little bit’, it was kind of like shooting a gun — I felt like ‘I’ve got to do this, got to do that, right now’,” he said.

“I found the practical learning on the course more helpful than the classroom stuff because I’m an outgoing person compared to how I was at school.”

Danny Boyle was the person who inspired me to get into the film industry”

While doing his foundation degree, Dean was diagnosed with dyslexia for the first time.

“That was very intriguing because I didn’t realise what effect it had been having on me throughout my life but when I was told the symptoms, everything that I was confused about when I was at school and in the army made sense.

“It was this hurdle, this invisible wall that I’d never seen before… and it made me think ‘OK, what do I need to achieve to get over those hurdles?’”

With support for his dyslexia and a speech impediment, Dean achieved a distinction when he completed his foundation degree and also managed to get a paid experience on the set of Danny Boyle’s Great and Glorious film which played at the beginning of the Olympic opening ceremony.

“Danny Boyle was the person who inspired me to get into the film industry because I met him one day while I was in the army, just a couple of weeks after he’d won his Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire and he made me think ‘you’ve got to get into films’, and then my first ever work experience was working with him and it was so much fun.”

Dean is now splitting his time between working at the famous Pinewood Studios and doing a BA in film and television at the same college, where he mentors his fellow students.

Winning the award he said, was “amazing”.

“It’s my first award or recognition for doing something like this and I’m very proud, more than proud, it’s still weird, I can’t my head round it sometimes.

“When I talk to people they’re always saying I deserve this award, and you think ‘wow, I do actually’, “It’s a momentous occasion for me but it’s a momentous occasion for others as well, because I’m just a normal guy working who’s got a passion for the film industry, so I hope people say ‘if he can do it, we can give it a try’.”

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