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Craig’s mastering film production with his TV Pilot

Media Facilitator Craig Hartwell poses in the media office with a film camera

Craig Hartwell, media facilitator at Telford College, joined Telford College in the summer of 2023, after a career working in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) facilities across the midlands.

Craig had ventured into the world of music, where he performed live as part of the band Enemo J. “I’ve always loved rap music. I made my first track with an old hi-fi using the theme tune to Rainbow as a melody!

“I always wanted to go on stage and where I grew up in Swadlincote, there wasn’t much of an opportunity to get up and rap. I saw a rise in rap metal in the 90s, I performed alongside a lot of metal bands and eventually we formed Enemo J, which stood strong for a good 20 years.

“We analysed how to be the best we could be and actively tried to take our music to the next level. We networked and eventually signed a record deal – we turned up in suits and everyone at the label looked at us, wearing shirts and jeans!”

Craig after performing with Dave Grohl at Download Festival
Craig after performing with Dave Grohl at Download Festival

Craig played Download Festival twice, performing alongside acts such as Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine and Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters. “We were playing pubs the week before, then we’d turn up and be shaking hands with Slash from Guns and Roses while Corey Taylor is sat eating fish and chips behind us. It was surreal!”

Craig completed his HND in film and media before studying Film and Television Production at degree and master’s level at the University of Wolverhampton. As part of his studies, he created an award-winning film, titled 17, a short film exploring the stigma of male depression and suicide.

As part of his final project for his master’s degree, Craig made a pilot for a sitcom called Blank Kanvas, which is set in and around a tattoo parlour in Lilleshall. “It’s an alternative area of interest with a huge potential fanbase.”

“I created a story with a strong female lead, with diversity so as many people could find it as relevant as possible, then I tried to make the script as funny as it could be.”

Craig managed to get one of his on-screen idols, Frank Harper from films such as The Football Factory and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, to appear in the pilot after meeting him at Comic Con.

Andy Turner, learner manager for creative and music, said “Craig is a real asset to our department. He not only manages our extensive media equipment resources but also supports in sessions, using his wealth of experience in industry and education to ensure our media students meet their full potential.

“He has been actively involved in supporting our students at events and work experience projects too such as the Shropshire Music Awards and the launch event for The Salopian Mixtape, where our students were working as professional videographers.

“He also runs our media film club, where each week students can watch films and analyse how they have been written, directed, filmed, and edited, inspiring them in their own film projects.

“We are supporting Craig through his teacher training, and I look forward to seeing him progress his career in education.”

“I genuinely love working here” adds Craig. “From my previous work in education, I didn’t know there would be an opportunity like this for me.”

“I met the friendly and welcoming team in the creative department and then I saw the equipment and office I now work in and I just thought ‘wow, this is where I want to be!’. I love seeing what our students make with the equipment we have; it motivates me everyday and I encourage them as much as possible to be the best they can be.”

Craig is a massive Ted Lasso fan; above the door to his office there is a ‘BELIEVE’ sign like in the show’s dressing room that he taps at the start of every day. He also has a stall at several Comic Con events across the country, where he sells merchandise.

Are you inspired by Craig’s story? See our creative media courses on our website.