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Women in Film: From Her POV Week Six

This week’s blog from the From Her Point of View programme features an introduction to visual storytelling and a run-down of animation techniques commonly used in film and TV. Catch up with Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Six

Week Six saw us ladies delve into the realms of visual storytelling and animation. As has been the awesome thing about this course, it’s given us the opportunity to learn so many new skills and once more I was a complete novice (been a bit of a habit this, eh?) to animation beyond appreciating the final product and not really knowing much about the depth of the process it takes to put one together.

First though, we began with visual storytelling. This is essentially about the choices the creative team make and techniques they use that allow them to tell their story and convey their message in the best possible way. For example, do they have dialogue? No dialogue? Music? Do scenes refer to earlier ones, or foreshadow later events?

Shot Choices will often be important to your storytelling and we focused on wide shots and close ups. We explored their significance to a film’s tone (for example, wide shots are useful for comedic scenes) and how such choices affect our reaction to the scene.

Films we looked at in relation to many of these techniques included: Braveheart, No Country For Old Men, Harold & Maude, Up, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We also looked at a couple of commercials, including one for furniture that threw us all a total emotional curveball! 

As an aspiring professional writer, I often find it difficult to think of my work in visual terms instead of words on a page. After this session though, I began to think that if I shift my focus and try to imagine these words on film and how certain “scenes” look rather than just read on the page, I might become a more rounded writer and better storyteller. I was even beginning to think I should try my hand at writing a screenplay, a desire I’d only briefly indulged during our screenwriting session a few weeks back. The session generated some lively discussion of some of our favourite techniques, directors and styles, and once more left me with a raft of works to check out, as it seems I have lived a very sheltered film viewing life to date!

Introduction to Animation

BAFTA winning Bristol-based filmmaker and animator Emma Lazenby joined us a little later on in Thursday’s session, to give us a crash course introduction to animation. This included a little history and a run down of the types:

3D stop motion (everybody say: Wallace & Gromit!)
2D Computer cutout
2D Computer
Cell Animation
2D Drawn

We also had a practical where we got to try our hands at PIXELATION, which was great fun!

Sadly I was absent for Friday’s session, but team Black Cherry seemed to have a lot of fun experimenting, so I was informed ?

Next time, it’s Art Department’s time to shine as we are joined by Carrie Love to talk us through Production design!

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

Women in Film: From Her POV Week Five

This week’s blog from the From Her Point of View programme features a lesson in copyright and some practice working with actors to help them inhabit their roles. Catch up with Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Five

Thursday’s session began with Noomi, the mastermind behind From Her Point of View and Knowle West Media Centre’s Creative Skills Co-ordinator, giving us a presentation on copyright. This grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution.

For filmmakers like many of the women here, copyright can be a bit of a minefield so it’s imperative we tackle it correctly; finding out who owns the rights, acquiring permissions, protecting our own work and so on.

Copyright covers a pretty broad range of elements in filmmaking:

1) Stills
2) Moving image or archive footage
3) Music
4) Brands
5) Artwork

After this presentation, I snuck away and had a chat with Thomasina Gibson, a producer who has recently completed her first feature film. Thomasina is also a prolific author and has been a director and journalist but started her career as a publicist. Thomasina has worked with the likes of the BBC, Sky and Channel 4 to name a few, and she talked with me about her career path and gave me some insight and advice – with me being an aspiring writer and journalist – about the next steps I could take to get my foot on the ladder of the industry.

The biggest thing I took from our conversation is how useful it is to have the confidence to put yourself and your work out there and reach out to people in the industry who you aspire to or want to work for, and see if they can offer you some experience or point you in the direction of ways you can. They may not give you the time of day, but it’s important to persevere and have a sense of pride in your aspirations and your skills. I’ve never been great at networking or initiating this kind of contact, but Thomasina was welcoming and her enthusiasm infectious; I left the meeting feeling inspired and that I should try putting her advice into practise. The worst that can happen is someone rejects you and in that case you will dust yourself off and try again; because, eventually, somebody somewhere might take a chance on you, and that could lead to amazing things.

Working with Actors

Esther May Campbell joined us once more on the Friday for a more in-depth look at working with actors. Intention and Obstacle were once again the order of the day, but we looked at them in terms of how we approach discussing scenes with an actor, and how our approach might change if we are working with non actors, leading us to ways of introducing scenarios and how we might want the scene to be approached:

  • ‘As if…’
  • ‘It’s like when…’
  • ‘Imagine…’

This gives us context, and sets the scale and energy for the scene. Esther worked with team Blood Warriors on a read through of a particular scene and talked about what worked well and what could be improved and how, while we watched team Black Cherry run through a scene for blocking and how a good director can bring out the best in their cast performances.

We ended the session with a kind of meditative technique with Esther talking us through a scenario in order to get us into the heads of characters from their films: their emotions, what makes them tick. If you didn’t want to be a character, you could do it as yourself. I’d never done anything like this before, but I found it to be an interesting way of getting under the skin of your ideas – I’ll definitely apply it to my own writing!

Next time, we head into the realm of animation with a little help from a Bristol-based BAFTA winner, and Noomi tells us all about visual storytelling!

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

Women in Film: From Her POV Week Four

This week’s blog from the From Her Point of View programme features a return to screenwriting and an in-depth exploration of sound, microphones and recording. Catch up with Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Four

Week Four of our endeavour to create two amazing short films and shout about how talented and creative us ladies (and women in general are, of course!) began on Thursday with a brief return to screenwriting to reinforce what we have learned so far in terms of our old familiar friends: Intention and Obstacle and how important these are to developing our ideas and projects.

We were split off into pairs and had to choose a mystery scenario from a selection and then talk in our pairs about how we would explore these on film. A character would have a particular intention and we would have to come up with the tone, obstacle and plot idea, and also have a go at fleshing out the characters a little more in terms of personality.

I paired up with Ellie, producer on team Blood Warriors. Our scenario involved character A wanting to get money from Character B, and we came up with the idea of a crime drama or thriller piece, with Character A maybe in deep debt from a loan shark, who reunites with  an old friend, who is now trying to distance himself from his former criminal life, now settled, maybe married with a child.

We imagined Character A being very charming, smooth talking and manipulative. When Character B refuses to hand over the money, the tension and drama comes from how their relationship has changed, we thought perhaps that character B used to look up to and admire A in their younger days, and would normally have done anything for his respect, but the stakes are now too high and he knows it’s the wrong thing to do, so he has a moral dilemma. A can see this, and so uses it to his advantage.

It was a fun little exercise to get the creative juices flowing. Other scenarios from the group included someone trapped in a room with no clear means of escape beyond a rope and barred window, and car trouble whilst making your way to a destination!

The group then split off into their crews for a pre-production meeting. The major element for both crews was the fact that a rough draft of their script needed to be ready for the following session, as Esther would be returning to work with us more after her Intro to Working with Actors a few weeks back.

For Blood Warriors and Black Cherry, the focus was on fine tuning the ideas and the direction they wanted to take their projects in, but they started thinking about other elements as we’ve had a little more insight: going around I heard talk of ‘we could shoot this scene like this,’ ‘I’d light it like this’, ‘how do we want this look,’ dipping our toes into art department and talking about ideas for locations. It was all very encouraging to hear everyone so enthusiastic about what we have learned so far!


This leads us on neatly to Friday’s session, where at least as someone who has no experience of what we were going to be learning, I felt thrown in at the deep end! Having said that, this course has thus far taught me to embrace new things and hit the ground running.

Friday’s workshop was devoted to sound, led by composer and sound designer Laura Izzard. Laura’s impressive portfolio of work includes a wealth of commercials and animations, and I was astounded to hear the extent to which women working in sound are a very very rare thing indeed.

When you work in sound, the main tool of your trade is the microphone. These can appear in many different sizes, and used in different ways.

When you record dialogue your best options would be directional, shotgun or boom mics. The longer the mic is, the better it is at getting rid of extraneous noise.

Stereo mics come in three categories:

  • Omnidirectional will give you an equal 360 degree recording of all sound
  • Cardioid is useful for recording in front, but will pick up some sound from the back
  • Hypercardioid used mainly for recording close to.

Whatever kit you use, follow this rule: the camera is king. Always match your sound to your camera and shots, for consistency.

Levels of sound and sound quality
  • In this industry, the level of sound will impact the quality, and you work on the signal to noise ratio. Levels will either PEAK (be too loud) or be too quiet, so it’s important to get the levels right.
  • Sound is in bits, or kilohertz
  • Highest quality is 192k
  • Broadcast standard sound is 48k
  • CD Quality – 44.1k, 16 bit

More bits give you a smoother sound.

Methods to record sound
  • Recorder to mic to camera
  • Recorder directly to camera via cable
  • Recorder with a mic to camera via wireless connection
  • Set your audio and camera to the same time, so everything will then be in sync.

 Laura let us all play around with her kit and I joined Blood Warriors to record one of their scenes.

Next time, we delve deeper into working with actors, and learn a little about copyright along the way!

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

Women in Film: From Her POV Week Three

This week’s blog from the From Her Point of View programme features a behind-the-scenes look at camera and lighting techniques. Catch up with Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Three

Before I tell you all what we got up to this week, I’m thrilled to say that now things are a little more settled I think it’s time I tell you a little about the films! Firstly, I can reveal there’s been a change of plan from one of our production teams. Their original idea – “Where I Came From”, exploring the story of a female refugee with a mix of drama and real life testimonials – was proving a challenge due to our time frame: not having the time to build up trust and relationships with individuals and charities to the extent that would do justice to their idea and, more importantly, the stories of the people the team wanted to approach. It is an extremely sensitive subject and would no doubt involve some incredibly traumatic experiences that people might not feel comfortable sharing with a film crew – and the last thing the team wanted was anybody feeling uncomfortable. Luckily, you might remember that Writer/Director Kam had two ideas, and the team decided that it was perhaps time to make a change!

The films are both ‘coming of age’ dramas but explore their ideas and themes in different ways. Kam’s team are now working on “Black Cherry” – a film that explores race, class and sex, all through the relationship that Ange, a young woman of Indian/South Asian descent, has with her boyfriend Ben. ‘Throughout the story this subtext is held back, but as tensions rise [there is] the sense that these issues may erupt, breaking through the veneer of tolerance, adding a dangerous and contemporary feel.’

The other team are working on “Blood Warriors  directed by Rosa. The film centres on ‘an incredibly unique self-styled all-female Bristol BMX crew. The film spends a day with the young ladies as they face the trials of being a teenage girl who demand[s] to be heard.’

You could say that the week of 9th and 10th February was Lights, Camera, Action week as we were joined by camerawoman Sarah Edwards, who took us through the basics of camera and lighting. I’m a complete novice to lighting and my experience of camera work is limited to in front of it, and then only very briefly as an extra and a challenge competing for the most Youtube hits in a set time frame. That in mind, I was blown away by the sheer amount of kit Sarah has in her arsenal to do her job as a camera woman, which greeted us as we walked in. But never let it be said I’m not willing to try new things!


Thursday and most of Friday were devoted to camera work. For the “theory” part at the beginning of the sessions Sarah wanted to cover a few of the photography basics. These included:

The rule of thirds: this is one way of producing a photo or piece of film that will draw the viewer’s eye and engage their attention. Divide everything into thirds, with two horizontal and two vertical lines so you have nine parts. The idea is that you place the object/person you want your audience to focus on in that scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet.

Depth of Field: this is the distance between the nearest object in a frame and the farthest. It will affect how sharply your subjects appear in focus in a frame.

ISO or International Standards Organisation: in photography and filmmaking, this is the industry standard that measures the camera’s sensitivity to light and is measured in a numbered scale. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive. Most cameras now allow for the photographer to change the ISO settings to what they require depending on the surroundings.

f stop: in this industry, f stops are used to quantify ratios of light or exposure.

Focal Length: simply put, this tells a photographer the angle of view and the magnification.

We also explored camera angles, colour and camera movement, with a little help from clips from Luther, Marvel’s Jessica Jones and the movie Drive, to name a few examples!

After Thursday’s theory, to help reinforce Sarah’s introduction, each team was given a camera. The idea was to play around with Focal Length and Depth of Field, by having one of the team “model” for the camera, moving it further and further away, and each time switching to a lens with a higher focal length and seeing how the image is affected. I got to model for Team Black Cherry.


For the beginning of Friday, we shifted the focus to lighting. Our eyes will adjust to changes in light and for a Director of Photography on a shoot, the tools of your trade are usually in three categories, measured in Kelvin.

3200k: this is known as Tungsten and is orange.

4300k: florescent or mixed colours

5600: “daylight” – this is blue.

We also looked at White Balance – making the colours in the frame appear as natural as possible by removing unwanted colour casts. The light you choose will evoke tone and atmosphere in your piece, whatever genre it might be.

Sarah also explored Documentary Lighting, and how a great Digital Imaging Technician can be very helpful on a shoot, including how imperative it is you make two copies of everything you do!

Tying both camera and lighting together, Sarah once more sent us out with a camera. This time, we could also experiment with different types of lighting and colour, and show her what we’d learned throughout the two days she was with us.

Again, I was on team Black Cherry. We had producer Holly making tea using different kinds of camera angles, decided to be a little ‘out there’ and lit the toilets in such a way to make them look like a jail cell, and I made my camera woman debut filming Holly come down the stairs with the help of some coloured gel. It looked like something out of a horror movie, in the coolest kind of way!

Stay tuned for Week Four, where we moved away from the camera, to focus on sound.

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

Change Creators: The XLR Collective – Music is Power

This week the Change Creators: XLR Collective’s session was entitled #musicispower.

The session was all about the power that music has to influence, inform and spark change on a personal, national and international level. This session was less about the classic activism songs like Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come” or Edwin Star “War” and more based around independent artists who are striving to make a difference within their local communities.

The session began with a series of music videos covering a wide range of topics from Benin City (Club closures), Soundsci (Black Lives Matter), The “Fracking Song” – “My Water Is On Fire”, and also a poignant song from London based MC, promoter and youth worker Shay D entitled “Set Her Free” addressing domestic abuse (below):

The XLR Collective discussed songs and musical experiences that had created a long lasting impression on them. They introduced each other to new music, discussed the impact of the songs and events and reflected on how music has the power to change moods, attitudes and communities. A key question arose from the discussions:

“how can we use this information to create better music events in the future?”

Further exploring the topic with music and events that had an adverse impact, and looking into the reasons why they were ineffective, the session ended with some core values to instil when creating events, and some core aims as a collective in order to create a long lasting impact through their event(s) later in the year.

Keep in touch with the XLR Collective:
@change_creators @xlrfest


Change Creators: The XLR Collective – Inspire Week

Over the next seven months the new cohort of Change Creators – The XLR Collective will be making waves in the city, tackling social issues using musical and creative solutions. You will meet individually through their online profiles over the course of the programme. The Inspire Week, which ran from 20th – 22nd February 2017, gave the group the chance to travel around the city and meet some amazing local and national organisations, getting them ready for the journey ahead and fuelling their fire for social change.

We talked about Bristol-wide policies with Elected Mayor Marvin Rees and Councillor Asher Craig, discussed mental health with charities including Off The Record, and Integrate UK opened the group’s eyes to FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). The group also explored a wide range of other topics and organisations.



Monday was all about the months ahead, focusing on what leadership is, different leadership styles and each member of The Collective’s personal journey. After a full-on day the group had a debrief to get ready for the next day. After getting to know each other on day one, the feedback was exactly what we had hoped for:

“[I’m] inspired and grateful to be around people who are doing things that I aspire to do.”


Tuesday, we were out and about in Bristol, kicking things off with an inspirational talk from Julz at Ujima Radio. Originally from Knowle West, Julz gave a unique perspective on the area and shared his understanding of some of the challenges faced by people in the local area. He talked about his background, and explained ways that the group can make a difference to their local area by just getting involved and “not being scared to shake things up”. 

That was followed by a tour / meet and greet with the DJs, presenters and volunteers at the radio station. It was great for the group to meet some inspiring people who are championing talent in their local community and striving to make a positive difference.

From there the Collective headed to Desk Lodge for a Social Issues ‘speed dating’ session. The group met:

– Off The Record
– Barnardo’s Care Leavers Team
– Integrate UK
– Daniel Edmund from Milk for Tea

Each person focused on specific social issues facing people in Bristol and explained what they are doing within the city to combat them. Daniel from Milk For Tea concluded the day and shared the story of how Milk For Tea create open conversation around male suicide and provide support, alongside creating networks through local events in London, Bristol and more.

“There’s no one way to be a man, anytime people don’t understand you they will try to attack you.”
Daniel Edmund


Some feedback from the Collective from Day 2:

“I’ve always been a bit cynical about charities but it’s nice to see people who are genuine and have drive. It’s made me hopeful and it’s refreshing.”

“I feel re-connected with a lot of things happening in Bristol – and more informed.”


On Wednesday we began our day at Bristol City Hall with some seriously inspiring talks from Elected Mayor Marvin Rees, Councillor Asher Craig and Phil Castang from Bristol Plays Music. Asher started the day, explaining how the council works and her journey to becoming the councillor for Saint George. Marvin Rees, with his background and passion for music, was excited to talk to the group about their ideas and offered some examples of how musicians have the power to change so much within their local communities.

Phil Castang, or as the group ended up calling him “The Castang!”, began by explaining the role of Colston Hall and Bristol Plays Music within the local music scene and their education work. He gave the group some poignant and honest advice about striving to create what you want, no matter the challenges that you face.

Asher then guided the Collective around the building, showing them the Elected Mayor’s office, board rooms, the Cash Hall and many other intriguing spaces. The group marvelled at the fusion of old and new elements in the building.

The afternoon was spent back at Knowle West Media Centre, reflecting on the three days, discussing the issues the group feel passionately about and making some songs exploring social issues in a creative way. This reminded the group how their creative skills can be utlilised in a wide variety of ways. The songs were hard-hitting, honest and diverse.

“I feel empowered and capable following these few days. I feel able to do the right thing. We’ve met people who are doing the right thing and that’s great.”

The XLR Collective are now formed, informed and ready to develop their ideas. This is set to be an amazing seven months. Watch this space!

Follow Change Creators: The XLR Collective on Twitter at @change_creators

Women in Film: From Her POV Week Two

This week’s blog from the From Her Point of View programme features how to work with actors and write for the screen. Catch up with Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

Week Two: Working with Actors & Screenwriting

Now we all know each other, it was time to hit the ground running! This week began with a session led by Esther May Campbell: An Introduction to Working with Actors. A self-taught writer and director, Esther has some impressive and inspiring credentials. Her debut feature film ‘Light Years’ premiered at the London Film Festival in 2015, she won the Best Short Film BAFTA in 2009 with ‘September’, and has worked on shows like Wallander and Skins.

Working with Actors

The session began with Esther distinguishing between actors and non-actors, and how you would change your approach and style of direction depending on your casting decisions. This gave each production team food for thought and started the process of thinking about this in relation to their scripts. Esther also talked about scale of performance – the intensity you want a scene to have. To start this process simply, she encouraged us to think about it on a scale of 1 to 10. She also touched on the principle we will continue to hear about: Intention.

For a director, Intention is all about what you want the scene to do, and how you explore this within the wider frame of your character’s story. To tie this in with the idea of scale, she asked two of us (Rosa and Florence) to help her with a demonstration. The rest of us had to give a setting, and a beach was suggested. She then took Rosa and Florence aside and gave them an intention, without letting the other (or us) know what it was. Rosa and Florence then had to run with this and ad lib a scene, and play around with scale of performance.

Next, Esther gathered us all back around the screen in the main studio to watch some clips from a couple of films and see if we could identify the intention of the scene. The catch: the sound had to be muted!

This workshop was a real eye opener for me. As a lover of films who particularly enjoys watching an actor’s performance for the finer, more subtle nuances, it was great to gain a bit more insight into how their choices and director’s influence can affect the bigger picture. We’ll be lucky enough to have Esther with us again in a few weeks’ time.

The rest of the evening passed with each production team meeting to discuss their next steps, ahead of needing a first draft of their script in a fortnight. Both production teams also had a brief chat with Carrie Love about preparation for Art Department. We’ll hear more from Carrie in March at our production design workshops.


On Friday 3rd February, I felt I’d come into my element as our workshop was on screenwriting. As an aspiring writer and blogger who wants to get into the creative industry in some shape or form, I confess I had never thought about writing for film prior to taking part in this project, but I know I found it incredibly helpful. Film is a visual medium, so you show your audience, not tell them. I’d always thought of writing being the opposite of this, but I soon learned that you can translate many of the skills between the two disciplines.

The presentation was broken down into several principles, so here’s a brief run down:

Use your creative truth – Everyone’s voice is unique and will colour what you create. You will have a perspective that no one else has and can explore what is important to you.

Let your theme guide your plot – Think more widely about what you want your film to achieve and explore. Your characters will drive the plot and represent the themes in the action they come across.

Intention and Obstacle Ah, our old familiar friends! We were briefly introduced to Intention and Obstacle in previous weeks. Intention is what your characters want and Obstacle is what prevents them from achieving this. Whatever else happens in your film, it will boil down to these two must-have elements. Everything else will hang on this, so it must make sense. The intention must be established at the beginning, and the simplest way is by having your characters say what it is, thereby engaging the audience from the outset. Remember that your obstacle does not need to be overcome and that the crux of drama will come from you pressing your intentions and obstacles.

Plot – What happens: setup, conflict resolution, beginning, middle, end. Choose an idea that you can do justice to within your time frame, focus in on a small aspect and infer the bigger picture.

Character Your characters are fictional creations and therefore they don’t need to be real; they can just serve the purpose in your narrative. Your characters are defined by their approach to the obstacles that block their intentions.

Research ‘Hard research’ is about specifics. If you have a character that has a particular occupation, for example, [details of] these things will need to be part of the narrative to make it convincing. ‘Soft research’ gets you closer to your subject matter and is more useful if you don’t know what exactly you are looking for. Think of soft research in terms of intentions and obstacles.

Writing technique – Show, don’t tell. Be economical with your words: ditch adverbs, adjectives are your friends! Give your audience just enough to understand your plot.

This gave us a flavour of how important a screenwriter is. One of the teams are about to learn this in relation to their project […] More on this next time…

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

Women in Film: From Her POV Week One

Come behind the scenes with From Her Point of View, Knowle West Media Centre’s three-month training programme for female filmmakers. Find out more about the experience of women in film with this weekly blog from  Kerrie, one of the young women taking part in the training who is also acting as Press Agent for the films…

What’s the story?

“Fourteen incredibly talented women have been assembled by Knowle West Media Centre as part of their new project: From Her Point of View. Their mission: change the face of the film industry, which currently sees women massively under-represented, by equipping them with all the tools and top notch training they need to create two short films. The group meets for one day and an evening each week.

“The training will include workshops on screenwriting, lighting, sound and camera work, just to name a few. The two completed films will be screened as part of Bristol Film Festival’s event celebrating the contribution women have made to cinema.

“Come back over the coming weeks to meet the team and get an insight into what we’re all up to, through the eyes of either me, the project’s Press Agent, or some of our team!”

Week One: Induction and First Workshop – Practical Film Making

From Her Point of View kicked off on Thursday 26th January with our first evening session. It started with a chance for us all to meet for the first time, get to know each other a little bit and talk a bit about our roles on the project. Along with some games to break the ice, we heard about the project in a bit more depth.

After the games, the women split off into their two production crews and talked more about their visions for their films. On one team we had talk of a coming-of-age drama featuring an all-female BMX gang, with the plans for elaborate and incredible costumes, perhaps with an Elizabethan vibe. The other team had a decision to make, as Director/Writer Kam brought two ideas to the table. Enthusiastic praise was given to both, but eventually the group decided on Where I Came From, dramatizing the story of a female refugee. With excerpts of real testimonial, the film would blend the documentary and drama genres.

We also came together as a whole group for a short ‘mapping’ exercise, where we looked at ourselves, our values and what’s important to us. The challenge was to break these elements down into finer and finer detail. The premise was that the teams could apply this approach to their filmmaking, because whatever else you add to your film it will boil down to two essential elements: intention and obstacle (which we’ll hear more about in our Screenwriting workshop). Each crew member was given a document detailing the different roles and responsibilities on the project.

Throughout the evening I was struck by how enthusiastic and passionate the women are. Being in a room with creative, like-minded women creates an exciting and interesting buzz and dynamic. This quality served us well, as the following day saw us thrown in at the deep end with our first practical workshop!


Friday 27th January  began with a brief induction to all the kit the production teams will have at their disposal to make their films, and how each go about booking all their equipment out, with a little help from Barry, Knowle West Media Centre’s Creative Technology Manager. We were also introduced to Tom  Stubbs, of biggerhouse and JUMPcuts films, who set us our first challenge.

Tom brought with him a selection of everyday objects and split the group up into smaller teams. Our challenge was to create and cut together a film over the course of this single session. We had to chose objects from Tom’s collection and feature them in the films. He also stipulated a couple of other rules: every member of the team must be in the film, it must feature three different types of shot (Wide, Mid, Close up) and it must feature four elements/words: DISCOMBOBULATE, PULSE, DUSK & QUAIL.

I started Friday’s session feeling pretty overwhelmed – I’m a blogger and aspiring writer who had never even thought about approaching film before and with no experience other than watching films and one outing as an extra. Having said that, being thrown in at the deep end was fun and useful: I got experience being in front of the camera, an idea of what makes a good shot, and had a go at cutting/editing a scene.

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.

Chris’ KWMC20 Story

When did you first come to Knowle West Media Centre and what did you do?

I first came into contact with the Media Centre through the Knowle West youth club in my mid teens. I began by attending little filmmakers nights and even made a small video at the Knowle West Health Park which was a very embarrassing parody of Men In Black! I was bullied throughout almost all of my school life, so in my later teens when it got so bad I refused to return to school, Carolyn [Hassan] and KWMC were able to step in and place me on extended work experience with them, where I began learning film editing and how to use several media packages in a professional environment such as Flash and Final Cut.

How do you think KWMC has changed during the time you’ve known us?

It’s changed massively. When I first got involved with the project it was a small office in an old doctor’s surgery, now it has its own centre and has expanded massively.

Has KWMC made a difference to you?

It has, it pulled me out of an awful situation, it helped me build my confidence and meet new people. It was also a stepping stone in to the media world which I found myself in later in life.

What other difference has KWMC made?

It’s been a while since I was really involved with KWMC, but when I was there KWMC was always involved in community projects. I remember SafeRoutes in particular which focused on bringing hazards and dangers to the council’s attention along several routes through Knowle West.

What are your favourite KWMC memories?

I have many fond moments with KWMC, from my first time on a film set to boring poor Sandra [Youth Media Worker] to death recounting episodes of Dragon Ball Z! I certainly remember a trip to London to meet and look at another media group, I experienced my first time on a tube train and my very first Wagamamas meal! But I would say my favourite memory was hosting and entertaining a group of guests from Japan who didn’t speak much English, which was not only a real confidence booster for me, but also an extremely fun day! These and many other memories will stick with me forever, so thank you to Carolyn and KWMC for giving me that opportunity.

Chris Foster

Michael’s KWMC20 Story

We asked artist Michael Smith to reflect on his time at KWMC and he responded by creating five new pieces that mix hand-drawn characters and computer illustration. Can you spot some familiar faces alongside Michael’s alter ego The Dark Fox?


Story and artwork by Michael Smith, artist
Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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