It’s been a while since I wrote a blog. Partly life has been going a thousand times a minute and partly because so much has changed I barely know where to start!
So what’s changed? I guess the headline news is that I’m currently Directing a short for Netflix after being chosen out of 8000+ applicants to receive one of ten of their New Talent Documentary Funds. Along with my partner in crime and long term friend Aodh Breathnach we have created our own production company; Small Flame Films Ltd. The most exciting news on that front for those reading it who are interested in media is that we’re also currently on the lookout for a Camera Assistant and a Behind The Scenes people on our biggest shoot day, October 4th. Job descriptions can be found below and it’s really important to me that we receive applications from people of colour, especially those from multiple marginalised backgrounds.
I know how intimidating it can be to not only apply for these things, but to then also experience them with the heavy load of imposter syndrome on your back so I want to assure anyone who does apply that the environment will be one that is inclusive, professional, thoughtful and welcoming. I also thought it would be a good idea to share how me receiving this fund even happened in order to show that literally anyone can apply to anything and be successful!
Jump back about seven months or so ago, me and Aodh were on the phone having one of our catch ups (we can talk) when I mentioned that I’d seen a shout out from Netflix looking for great British stories. He said he’d seen the same but didn’t have a solid idea, I said I had a couple of woolly ones too – so we pitched them to each other. After talking them both through a bit, we then had another conversation a few days later deciding on the story we wanted to tell. I went and had a brief conversation with the subject to see if they were happy with me pitching them, they were, so afew days before the deadline we came up with a top line, popped in our details and sent it off!
A few weeks later we got an email asking for a 2 minute introductory video to give an idea of who we were. We got a little intro video from our subject, some images, I introduced myself to camera and Aodh edited it together beautifully, we submit it. After that we were told we’d been shortlisted to the last 40. WHAT?! The next round was much more in depth – we had to put together a budget, a storyboard, our creative team, we really had to start thinking properly about what this could be and it suddenly felt frighteningly real. All these bits started to fall into place – our subject had an incredible few months ahead of her begging to be documented, Aodh bumped into an old friend of his by chance who turned out to be an incredible DOP who had just finished filming horses for another Netflix documentary (I mean…?) and we had just found ourselves at a seriously strong stage.
I didn’t know what half the things were that we were putting together but I researched them, we wrote up our characters, synopsis, thought about time and money, checked our diaries to see if we could actually do this with our schedules and once we were confident, we sent it off! Now I had butterflies. Before it had just been a bit of fun, see what happens but now it felt real and I felt excited and also a bit responsible to tell this story that I’d fallen in love with. Another week or so passed and we got an email saying we were down to the last twenty one applicants and were invited up to London to pitch in front of eleven judges (one phoning in from New York). I was stunned and so busy!! The world was starting to open up again, I’d been finishing off some other projects, I didn’t even have time to concentrate fully on my pitch until I was on the train on my way to stay with Aodh for us to go over it all together, but I did it. I wrote the pitch, memorised as much as I could, we put together the slides that night, timed ourselves going through it that morning (2 minutes 32 on the dot) and headed over to Netflix.
When we walked in I was so nervous I could vomit. Netflix New Documentary Talent Fund was on the wall when we walked in and there was a sea of smiling faces who introduced themselves immediately as the ones we’d been emailing. They took our bags and coats, and we went into a side room with all the breakfast snacks in the world (as if I could eat though!) we hooked up to the WiFi for our presentation and then in a matter of what felt like seconds we heard ‘they’re ready for you’. I turned to Aodh, gave him a huge hug and we walked through to a sea of faces and pitched our butts off. A couple of minutes of presentation, a few minutes of questions and we were out of there! The whole thing felt so fast and we left feeling so proud of ourselves. Whatever happened, whatever the outcome, we went in, did our best and we did it together.
Within a week we heard our application had been successful. We were able to tell this story that we’d fallen in love with, about this wonderful young woman. I still pinch myself thinking thank the heavens I brought up Netflix on the phone to Aodh that day, and that we just went for it together – not knowing what would happen. That’s where the most exciting and terrifying things happen – in that moment of free fall – and I can’t wait to see what this leads to.
So please, if you are interested in films, film making, behind the scenes, even if it feels like a sidestep from what you ‘normally’ do – apply. You never know what new pathways it could lead to x