The Glorious DocLab Dozen in their own words

The Glorious DocLab Dozen in their own words.

Tammie Ash:

I feel I’ve always been more of a creative than a scientific person however I spent 5 years at the University of Leeds studying Civil and Structural Engineering - so I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in a field that couldn’t be more different. I think there is still a misconception that your degree discipline determines the rest of your life and that you need a relevant degree to work in television and film, but the Grierson DocLab scheme is a fantastic example of proving that this isn’t the case. In this sense, I feel even luckier to be selected.

Calum Bateman:

When I graduated from university last year, I knew I had the passion, curiosity and drive to work in the world of documentary and factual TV. However, as is often the case for many lost graduates, I had to move home and earn my keep by pulling pints. Fortunately, through my job, I met a local theatre maker and we are now working together documenting the experiences of those who have been given a later in life diagnosis of Asperger's and autism. I got a real buzz from capturing these stories and being afforded the chance to tell them to the world. Whilst it hasn't all been doom and gloom, I have found that trying to break into the industry to be incredibly difficult; I do not live in a major city, I do not have any inside connections, nor can I work unpaid. For this reason, I am so incredibly excited to be part of DocLab 2018. I cannot wait to get involved with learning from industry experts through a paid placement, as well as the chance to go to Sheffield Doc/Fest. My love for documentaries and factual TV is rooted in the way they allow you to become an explorer, seeing different places and experiences through the perspectives of others from all walks of life and to be finally given the chance to make this passion a reality, is just brilliant!

Kat Cashman:

I’m a youth worker and aspiring cinematographer from South East London. Documentary making has always been my favourite form of storytelling, so I’m thrilled for the opportunities that the Grierson Trust will offer to help me develop my skills to industry level. I must admit I’m proud to think of myself in affiliation with John Grierson, and hope I can do him justice in creating documentaries that truly celebrate our everyday lives. I can’t wait to start the scheme and collaborate with the whole DocLab team, I can already tell it’s going to be an experience I treasure forever.

Eleanor Conway:

I am currently studying for a Masters in Film and TV production at the University of Birmingham. After completing my undergraduate degree in History I realised that my passion lay in storytelling. Throughout my degree I loved researching unknown aspects of the past, reporting on them and analysing their meanings. I have always been drawn to the world of film and television and the way that film can delve deeper into a story than any written text could. A career in the film and TV industry never seemed like a realistic option for me; I was even told by a careers advisor that working in television wasn’t a job that was worth pursuing. However, after being selected to take part in the Grierson DocLab 2018 my dream seems a lot closer. I find that I am often in the position where I have ideas about films and projects that I would like to develop but limited knowledge of how to best do this. Through the scheme I am hoping that I am able to develop my creative skills and knowledge of the industry to allow me to best develop and expand my ideas and help me begin my career in factual programme making.

Naomi De Souza:

I’m 22, a History Graduate, and was brought up in a small village in the Midlands. I have always felt like an old soul, and I have just come back from Australia after hanging out with my 91 year old Grandma. Listening to the fascinating story of her life, and subsequently finding out I was selected for the DocLab scheme felt like a pivotal moment. It reaffirmed to me that there are hidden treasures in the everyday, and being part of a new cohort joining the sector, I am only too excited to explore this. The chance to meet and work with likeminded people in a fresh and dynamic setting feels refreshing and invigorating. My friends and family would likely describe me as slightly pedantic which I’m hoping might actually work in my favour in this odd climate of misinformation and fake news.

Sarah Foss:

I am a 21 year old International Relations graduate and have held a lifelong interest in documentary filmmaking. I currently work for an online magazine that aims to inform the public and investigate civil liberties issues - from immigration detention centres to miscarriages of justice. Having always been politically engaged means that for me, documentary filmmaking is about inspiring social change. Much of my understanding of the world and my political views have arisen through watching documentaries. As a Black queer person I am also keen to make content that reaches underserved demographics and discusses social issues with nuance and sensitivity. As such, I am thrilled to have been selected for this year’s DocLab. Having never studied film formally and with a distinct lack of connections in the field means that being able to develop technical skills and network with industry professionals is a fantastic opportunity. I feel that through being selected I am a step closer to my ambition of telling stories that can contribute to the changes I want to see in society.

Didem Gormus:

Since graduating from The University of Manchester in 2017, I have been working as a Project Coordinator and Support Artist for a small digital media company in my hometown of Swindon. Though I am grateful to have been able to develop my skills at home, I have been yearning to break into the industry and develop my career further so when I saw that the DocLab was open to applicants, I jumped at the chance to apply! To say that I am over the moon to have been selected for the scheme would be an understatement. I already know that this experience will be incredible for me and I can’t wait to get stuck in, generate and share ideas with my fellow trainees, and meet and learn from industry professionals!

Preston Hartley:

Being from Burnley in Lancashire, the idea of making documentaries as a career seemed unachievable. With no sight of London and the industry, I decided to go to university to build my skills in documentary filmmaking. Since then I have loved the experience of getting to know my subjects and finding creative ways of telling their stories through visuals and exploring questions others may not consider. Soon to be graduating from the University for the Creative Arts, I found myself still wondering how I can bridge the gap from Burnley to London and find other like-minded people to work with to tell new and engaging stories. My lecturer Anne Parisio, gave me hope for an opportunity such as the Grierson Trust that would enable me to develop my skills in developing and pitching ideas, as well as going to Sheffield Doc/Fest to see the range of highly inspiring work. I’m excited to see what we all produce and can’t wait to work with companies that share my ideas for the future in documentary.

Lauren Howard:

I am currently studying for a Masters of Research exploring the African American female and familial experience of America’s mass incarceration. Most of my studies have focused on fictional story development and narrative, but in the past few years I have felt my interests gravitate more towards factual content. As my studies have been largely literary focused, I have not had much production experience using equipment therefore I do not feel I have the technical knowledge to pursue my interests.

I am over the moon to be selected for the 2018 Grierson DocLab as I feel it will give me the opportunity to develop these skills. I am hoping to learn more about cinematography, filming and enough about production to feel confident producing my own work. I feel incredibly privileged to be given the chance to work with and learn from industry professionals, as TV and film often seems inaccessible to people like myself who come from a socially disadvantage, or underrepresented background. I cannot wait to get involved and finally take a step towards a career developing factual stories whilst pursuing political and anthropological interests through visual material.

Maria McNally:

I am a 21 year old student mere days away from completing my English Literature degree in Newcastle. I have always loved the Arts and all forms of storytelling, through reading, creative writing and performing. Therefore, I am incredibly excited to have been given the opportunity to participate in this year's DocLab and hopefully contribute some of my own ideas to the field of factual film and television. I also love to travel, and experience new cultures and perspectives. When I was sixteen, I travelled as far as Vietnam and Cambodia to volunteer in an orphanage, which was a really enriching experience. I keep myself very open-minded and am willing to adapt to new situations.In my spare time I love watching crime documentaries, but the Secret Life of Four and Five year olds is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine! There are few opportunities like this in the North-East and I am excited to represent this area by contributing my own ideas and experiences to the industry.

Eloise Millard:

Since getting my first byline in the Blackpool Gazette aged 15, I have wanted to be a journalist. As editor of my sixth-form’s magazine Sixth Sense, I took the publication on to win Best Magazine, Best Design, and Layout and Best Feature Article at the 2012 Shine School Media Awards. During my undergraduate degree, I edited the Comment section of the campus newspaper, the Boar. Feeling frustrated by the creative limitations of a university newspaper, I launched my own podcast, Anonecdotes, in my final year. The show’s success won me a scholarship from BAFTA to study for an MA in Broadcast Journalism. In March 2018, my article on classism in Russell Group universities was shortlisted for the Guardian’s Hugo Young Award. My passion has always been people, and I have spent a lot of time working in different industries with people from all walks of life. From travelling around Europe on a shoestring to making hard-hitting theatre at Edinburgh Fringe to volunteering with the homeless and young boys with behavioural disorders; my worldview has been moulded by the people I’ve met and the injustices and hardships I’ve witnessed, and now, it is what drives me. Being selected for DocLab feels like the first rung on the ladder towards telling the stories that matter. I hope being selected for this scheme is just the beginning of me becoming a voice for working-class people, disabled people and women and a strong ally to BME and LGBT+ communities.

Rhiannon Walsh:

I am a 24-year-old content creator, social media manager and part-time dispensary assistant at a herbal medicine store. I have been a die-hard documentary fan for as long as I can remember. For me, documentary film is about sharing stories to a mass audience, that would otherwise go unheard. We all have a story or an idea inside of us we would love to see on-screen and the great thing about the Grierson Trust is that they want to provide steps to make that a reality. A goal of mine is to see more diversity in who is creating, producing and presenting mainstream documentaries. I hope to see an increase in work made by women, BME and LGBT creators and those with disabilities, in developing unique, thought-provoking and fascinating factual film from varied perspectives. And I’m looking forward to being a part of that.

Published: 11 May 2018

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