Meet the Black Filmmakers putting Birmingham on the Map
October 2, 2017
PUNCH RECORDS LAUNCHES PROGRAMME TO SUPPORT EMERGING BME FILMMAKERS IN BIRMINGHAM
Seven emerging BME filmmakers from Birmingham will be given the opportunity to develop industry knowledge, professional connections and make a short film as part of a six-month artist development programme called BACK IN.
The dynamic programme, powered by innovative creative agency Punch and curated by talented director and entrepreneur Daniel Alexander will discover and empower the new wave of filmmakers with project support, bootcamps, one-on-one mentoring, masterclasses and peer-to-peer sessions.
The inaugural program will culminate with a screening of the participants’ new shorts that will be premiered, platformed and distributed at the end of the programme in December 2017.
“Participants were selected through their showreel quality, their references and their dedication and determination to succeed. They have already had a robust level of local success and we can see that they have the potential to replicate that nationally and beyond,” says Daniel Alexander who is managing the programme.
“Punches role in BACK IN is to support the next generation of young black filmmakers in getting better connected. It's about new networks and partnerships, simple,” says Ammo Talwar MBE.
Programmes like this are important because the industry workforce does not reflect the diversity of the UK. In production, only 3% of employees are from a minority ethnic background, compared to 12.5% nationally; at strategic management level, ethnic diversity is even poorer.
26-year-old Birmingham native Remani Love was inspired to pursue filmmaking after her friend and fellow filmmaker Cecile Emeke dropped out of university to create films and did so successfully. Remani, who featured in an episode of Emeke's much-acclaimed webs series 'Strolling,' says it showed her 'the power of film.' Her own first project was a documentary called 'Love Dock,' which explored black women and self-love.
"Growing up my mum used to put things or books in the house or literature of successful people but I felt like I didn't really connect with it as much as I wanted to. I wanted to find out how everyday women who looked like me practice their everyday life and I think it started from part of annoyance. When you're growing up and you lack confidence in certain areas and people say oh just love yourself. But I'm sure if it was that easy we'd all be doing it. So, I kind of went on a bit of a hunt to explore that topic deeper and how women from about 16-65 had incorporated self-love practices in their life, or what they’d learnt about themselves. And how I could apply that to myself. I think that was my main motivation," explains Remani.
Speaking about her involvement with BACK IN, Remani says: "I always wanted to work with Daniel, he was one of the first filmmakers I knew in Birmingham. He is such a generous guy, and I would see him around but there would never be enough time to learn more or pick anything up. So, when I knew it was happening and he would be leading it, I thought great. Finally there’d be time where I can learn more about making film. Especially coming from being in uni for four years doing science and I had no background in the basics. It has also, been great being around other like-minded filmmakers that I can ask industry questions, which I just couldn’t get from who was around me at the time. That’s why I really wanted to be on Back In."
Tenisha White, 31, is one of those involved in the programme. White, who has already put out a short film about domestic violence called 'Broken,' is now working on a new short called ‘Spite’ as part of BACK IN. "It’s about a mother who has had her child taken from her, from her ex-partner and she thinks it’s as simple as going and knocking on the door and getting her child back but it’s not. The law says he’s the father, he’s got as much right as having the child as much as the mother. So, she doesn’t know about this law so it’s about her journey to deal with the social services, to deal with the police, to deal with the courts to get her child back," explains White.
Before moving into filming, Tenisha was an actress; on the other side of the camera. Having featured in shows like Doctors, Shameless and Doctor Who, the Birmingham TV star started acting aged 12. Remembering how she got first got into it, Tenisha recalls: "What happened was in school we didn’t have a drama teacher. I think he had a mental breakdown because one time we were in lesson and he just ran out the door and that was the end of drama in our school. So my big sister used to take me to a class on two buses out of town. I could see how much she knew I loved it, and was committed to taking me twice a week, so I continued to do it. She’s a brilliant sister and going made it become natural to me. I love it."
Local filmmaker Tashan Elliot is excited about the project. He says: “The kind of people that we are getting to talk too, and the people that have been attending the bootcamps has been immense. I believe that where we’ve got to today is because of the networks we’ve created. So it’s very important that we’re able to extend those along with our knowledge on a programme like this.”