Lifestyle

Meet the Black Filmmakers putting Birmingham on the Map

by Vera Lovici • 06 Sep 2018

BACK IN , a six-month talent development programme managed by creative agency Punch Records who aims to develop early-career, black filmmakers from Birmingham.

The project helps participants expand their industry knowledge, build professional connections and tap into the city's vibrant local BME ecosystem.


The programme is curated and managed by filmmaker, director and entrepreneur Daniel Alexander

This session at the Everyman Cinema , in partnership with Creative Skillset , will host short films by local filmmakers and a panel discussion including Annika Allen, Femi Oyeniran and Sheridan de Myers on the state of BME representation throughout the film industry.
During the session you will:
• explore diversity issues in the UK film industry
• discover new content created by the next generation of young, black filmmakers in Birmingham
• find out how to get better connected and develop new work partnerships
• network with local black filmmakers and industry experts

To find out more about the programme, we have asked a few questions to Sara Myers. 

Sara Myers is an independent filmmaker with a background in youth and domestic violence. She went back to study her craft as a mature student and has achieved success despite not discovering she had dyslexia until her late 30s. Passionate, intelligent and with a keen eye for a good story, she wants to create films that challenge perceptions of culture and society. Here she discusses her journey and being selected for filmmakers talent development programme BACK IN.


How did you get into filmmaking? I've always been a storyteller. Even as a child, to write. I used to go to the Big Issue writing group. They said I was pretty good. Put me on a journalism course, but I couldn't cope. I ’m dyslexic, and this has always.

Been my greatest challenge. I was n’t diagnosed until I was 37. I ’ve been heavily involved in activism and in 2014 successful boycott campaign called ‘ boycott the human zoo’. In 2015 I made my first ever short film with no budget called ‘Four Voices’ showing the female presence in gang violence, in 2017 I made another low budget film ‘Red’ about black female mental health and suicide. I returned to 2015 as a mature student and; studied creative writing and, I learned the original paper, scripts, pose, Poetry. I embraced it, and the rest is history.

What made you apply for BACK IN?

I wanted to connect when other visual storytellers and the industry from successful people so that I could develop my own style and niche.

What ’s been the best part about being on the programme?

I ’m loving it. Meeting Femi Oyeniran was brilliant. Hearing how he ’s made it in film and as an actor/ director is something to learn from. Listening to the voices online you think nothing is

Happening or black filmmakers are being shut out. While there are bias and racism there’s stuff happening but you’ve got to know about it and BACK IN makes us aware and give us a seat at the table.

Outside of filmmaking do you have another job?

Well, I work in youth violence because my professional background is as domestic violence and sexual violence, sexual exploitation practitioner. I used to train the police and the courts. I love the job concerning educating people, but it was just really depressing. I was doing some guest lecturing, and then we were on the EU gangs programme where we were delivering workshops to practitioners around youth violence, and I felt there was a gap, and nobody was talking about girls in gangs. So I made ‘Four Voices’.

This film looked at four different stories, but they were all interlinked by this one event, which was a rape, which was my specialism. So I was really able to bring out the emotion and

Everyone said it was a strong story, even though the really bad. Once I came back from Italy, I thought, no I'm going to do this properly. So I go back to uni as a mature student, and I studied visual culture and creative writing.

That was a brave thing to do. That experience?

I'm a grandma. I was 43 and felt like I'm starting again. I went through the Open Uni because it was accessible and I met people that were like 67 on their first degree. I support that I needed, and I had as a one-to-one tutor. I have to write professionally, but professional writing completely different things. The first year I good grade, but I struggled. The second year was writing model, and I just excelled. Was really really my competitions. A lot in me, insecurities started going a little bit. I and more confident, and I literary review. I didn't get through, but of our workshops. I've got raw talent, do with a little bit more training. So I went and learnt some new techniques, the industry and the language. In the film, is entirely different from everyday language.So I gained a little bit of style somebody actually asked script for them. It was like a feature and they loved it.

So tell me about the project you plan to do for BACK IN .

Feel-Good comedy. I've never written comedy before, but it seems like I've found my niche. With a durable black female cast. There's a group of friends, one of them dies, so the story starts at her wake. She's basically throwing a lot of shade from the grave by the way of a letter that's read out and she's outing all her friends business. So they go on retreat with her white lesbian lover to find themselves, forgive her and heal.

Do you have the support of family and friends to pursue this as a career?

My partner's got terminal cancer and I wanted to make the film because he's pushed me to do it. He's been my biggest motivator. He's my biggest inspiration, so I'm like yeah, I'm going to do this, I'm going to show him that I didn't sit on my bum, I didn't say what if. A lot of people that talk with no action. I didn't want to be one of those people, so I came off social media, and I just invested my time in making films.

Who are the black characters or stars that have stood out to you in film?

Gabrielle Union in Being Mary Jane. I thought that was truthful black girl dysfunction and I loved it. I liked it because I could relate to it.

What do you think of the current state, of diversity in the film industry?

It’s pants but with that said it’s getting better slowly I think Black Panther broke the bar and now the floodgates are open it’s a brilliant time to jump on the wave and make things happen. Representation matters because we exist in this world. For me as black women its always the same narrative. We're the downtrodden baby mother, we're the hoe, but we're more than that. I think the potential that we have and the excellence that we have and the voice that we have, we don't get a platform for it. We do, to just wholly level, so the of girls coming up are inspired. 

Follow her on Instagram @sarzworld up-to-date or visit https://punch-records.co.uk/. The 2017 cohort of the BACK IN film programme, hosting a panel diversity in the UK film market, in the EVERYMAN cinema, Mailbox on September 26. More details can be found online at https://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/en/articles/art20170321161846901

   



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Vera Lovici


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