Diversity: breaking formulas and telling different narratives

Autumn Byam on diversity in filmmaking, getting into the industry and what the Creativity Works: Rushes course has done for her

12 March 2019

As our Creativity Works: Rushes course has now wrapped up, we'll be hearing from some of the team about how they got on with the training. Here, Autumn Byam shares her experiences, her thoughts on diversity in filmmaking and everything in between.

"I genuinely think I’ll be promoting the Creativity Works Rushes course for the rest of my life. Being able to be a part of this course has given me confidence, a sense of direction and a deep, almost personal understanding of an industry I had never really believed possible for me to get into.

As someone who doesn’t see enough value in higher education (at least relative to its lifetime debt), when my friend sent me the link to this course I jumped at it. I couldn’t really believe there was a course that not only valued young people from diverse backgrounds but also was keenly aware that the creative industry is difficult to break into for BAME and was dedicated to changing that. I wasn’t aware that the next six weeks would contain such close support and encouragement; specific inside knowledge; direct contact with an immersion into London’s post-production world.

But that’s exactly what it did.

Rushes definitely started off in the most impressive way possible - on our first night, we gathered at Framestore, the Oscar-award winning visual effects company that’s known for pretty much every big VFX-heavy film that’s come out in recent years. We got to see the process and the intricate work that goes into creating VFX, from its creation to animation. We discovered that it’s not always about the qualifications you’ve achieved but the passion that you have for the details - the art or physics - that go into creating something incredible.

The brief we were given at Untold Studios by Darren O’Kelly was to create a short film for the theme ‘What Do Young Londoners Care About?’, shot entirely on phones. We had the privilege of being guided by Tommie and Rosie from Black Shuck, who helped us voice our ideas, mixed sound, explained camera equipment, suggested improvements and loads more. Early on, Naana visited us in what didn’t feel like a talk, or a workshop, just what I would describe as… an experience. She encouraged us to believe we all had stories to tell and that they were all around us; from just hearing us introduce ourselves and our favourite films she made notes on each of our personalities and how we liked to tell stories.

Tim & Barry’s help was invaluable. Their studio, embedded in Dalston Market, showed us a different side of the post-production world. We gained practical experience editing with Adobe Premiere Pro using footage from their ‘The Lift’ shoots. Seeing Barry at our final screening was so encouraging; it’s such a good feeling to know that we were genuinely believed in by the people we had met during our time on the course.

Each and every speaker we had was inspiring – Dan Emmerson, Deepa Keshvala, Gus Hurdle, Will Worsdell and more. We gained so many tips about being a young filmmaker, about entering the industry and how to put our best selves forward. Our visits to the post-production houses were my favourite aspect of this course. From Splice to Big Buoy to Factory to the Ridley Scott Creative Group, we felt welcomed at every location we rocked up at. Being able to see the inner workings of the environment I aspire to end up in has made me realise that it is possible.

The issue of diversity cannot, and should not be ignored – it was prevalent that many editors were white and male and yet the message brought to us was clear: the industry does want diversity. Diversity brings new and fresh ideas and perspectives. Diversity breaks formula and tells different narratives within the content.

The final screening proved this as topics, techniques and styles ranged within our final films. There were films about diversity, identity, heritage, mental health and social issues. We ended up proving just how dedicated this group of young Londoners had been in order to bring the brief to life. Seeing all the films together at the end - frankly, we killed it.

I feel so thankful towards everyone at Creativity Works who were there the entire time to support us and continue to offer their support. Even at the end, this genuinely feels like the beginning."

Want to see the film that Autumn shot and produced? Press play below, or click here!

photography by Aidan Isik