The last 20 years has seen an explosion in how we all use technology for entertainment and education. It’s amazing to remember 20 years ago there was no YouTube (2005), no Facebook (2004), and no LinkedIn (2003). If people needed to learn a profession, they needed to go to university or read a technical manual.

The screen industries in the UK had already proven themselves in terms of inward investment and economic resilience, and a certain J K Rowling had written some books about a young wizard that ensured the UK film industry was a global force, and a homebrew games industry had morphed and professionalised into a world-beating giant.

The only problem was talent to feed the monster. Industry railed against a university system at the time that seemed to eschew vocational or practical skills and produce graduates that needed further time-consuming training after they left their ivory towers.

It was in this context that Escape Studios was born - an antidote that promised ‘studio-ready graduates’ and co-created courses with some of the biggest employers in the animation, games and VFX industries, in order to teach contemporary skills and industry pipelines. We continue to partner closely with the creative industry to support the growing demand for new skills - just this month we’ve launched a range of new undergraduate courses, specialising in Technical Art, Video Games Design and Character Creation.

Since 2002, the symbiosis between Escape Studios and industry has stayed strong. Nowhere is that more evident than in EscapePod:20, our series of podcasts, celebrating each year of the anniversary. Listen to them and you get the sense that Escape Studios has been a presence throughout many of the major milestones of the success story that is the screen industries in the UK. Search for the podcasts on Spotify and Apple or download them here.

You can listen to a double-Oscar winner saying how much he enjoyed working with Escape Studios, or hear how someone working for CERN’s large hadron collider changed careers by studying at Escape Studios, or listen to what the VFX Supervisor for the James Bond films remembers about how the advent of digital effects changed filmmaking, or how one of our tutors early abiding memory of the first days of Escape Studios at a Shepherds Bush location led them to see a mass brawl of professional wrestlers at a bar outside whilst they were learning complex 3D software.

There are a lot of stories throughout the years, but what is striking is how far Escapees have penetrated the industry and are now happy to give back to today’s students. We were delighted that some of them could join us for a special 20th-anniversary celebration event earlier this year - what a fabulous occasion it was seeing current, past and future tutors and students come together.

EscapePod:20 paints a picture of how at key moments of the games, VFX and computer animation industries inexorable world-beating growth, our tutors and students have been at the centre of the action. The podcast series is a must for those interested in what happens behind the scenes of the film, TV and games industry during a time of unprecedented change.

By Saint John Walker, Dean/Director of Industry Engagement, Escape Studios