Where are they now? Catching up with some of our very first trainees
Since the Grierson Doc Lab, Syriah has traveled across the USA and Canada thanks to a generous fellowship grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Syriah tutored on and led filmmaking 101 sessions for LGBTQ youth in cities like Seattle and Los Angeles and in 2014, joined the Jury at Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, judging the best and most innovative shorts.
Prior to this, Syriah launched Queerhouse Radio; a monthly LGBTQ youth led show broadcast on Roundhouse Radio and helped produce Puffball; a circus and performance project. Puffball engaged with over 80 LGBTQ youth for the devising process, then went on to tour Doncaster, London and Manchester in 2014. Syriah spoke on panels and documented the two year journey through film, audio, blogging and photography.
This year, Syriah was appointed as an Artistic and Quality Assessor for Arts Council England and published a fellowship report. In 2016, Syriah will be moving to Toronto to continue working with LGBTQ youth on creative and leadership projects.
After the DocLab I worked for about a year as a Development Researcher for BBC Documentaries in Bristol. The role was a fantastic chance to develop new ideas and proved to be a valuable introduction to the industry. I’ve since had the opportunity to work on several projects within the department including ‘Comic Relief 2015: Operation Health’. This was a documentary about the refurbishment of a health centre in rural Uganda. It was amazing to have the chance to work on location on such an engaging and challenging project. Currently I'm just finishing work on a new BBC programme about Aston Martin, which has proved to be another great opportunity to develop new skills in documentary film making.
I came to the Grierson DocLab as a lost graduate and unsure of what steps I needed to take to break into television. With a photography degree and a passion for documentary I felt I had some of the skills required - but needed to learn more about the television and film industries, and the various roles. Two years on and I’m working in the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol, which certainly wouldn’t have happened without the support and expertise I gained from this scheme. I never expected to land here and the Lab gave me the confidence to start applying for the jobs I really wanted. In addition it helped me see that the television industry is wider than just London and that all types of experience are valuable, even if at first they seem unrelated! I’m ever grateful for the opportunity and all the doors it opened.
Since the DocLab I’ve had my first two pieces of directing work for the community arts company I've worked for since 2012. Both projects went really well and I learnt a lot. I’m currently working with the same company to raise funds for another film that I will direct.
I’ve worked with Dershe [Samaria], who I met through the DocLab, on a couple of collaborative projects, most recently a short documentary for Channel 4 News, which was my first broadcast credit.
I’m currently doing pre-production work on my first personal, fully-animated short since 2012, which I’m really excited about - I’m working with a producer to fundraise for it.
Since the Lab I’ve also set up Cardiff Animation Nights, a free entry screening of award-winning independent animation, which I run every two months. I’m currently working towards setting up a Cardiff Animation Festival.
What I learnt through the DocLab has helped me with everything I’m doing at the moment - in particular with networking. I used to avoid networking, but thanks to the Lab I’ve embraced it - and it’s been essential to me recently in finding collaborators and running events.
Mei Leng Yew
Being a Grierson alumni has brought me into contact with so many encouraging and inspiring people and this has had a huge impact on me. I’m currently working at IMG as the media supervisor and my team look after the UEFA Champion’s League Magazine Show, the Europa League Preview Show and the Road To France series. I’m also the edit assistant so I’ve been cutting additional footage and match reviews. I hope to build up my craft editing experience more over the new season.
Outside work, I’ve been developing my first feature-length fiction script under the mentorship of Alexandra Arlango who runs The Brit List. I’m also in pre-production with a really exciting 7 minute animated documentary about a Kurdish refugee living in London. In addition, I’ve co-founded a production company and we are making corporate videos and music videos in order to build up our experience and skills.
Before the Grierson DocLab, I wouldn’t have had the confidence or know-how to do any of the above. Meeting people who gave me their advice and support at each stage has been really beneficial to me.
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