Yasmin Begum: Sea Change Blog, 2019

Women in Film development lab is organised by Screen Argyll, and located on the picturesque remote Inner Hebridean island of Tiree in Scotland. This year, the theme of the lab was “Finding Your Voice, Making Yourself Heard and Engaging New Audiences” around bringing change for women in film. I had the pleasure of attending in a capacity as a volunteer worker for Cinema Golau, meaning “Cinema of Light” in Welsh.

This lab brought together grassroots film practitioners, programmers and organisations for an absolutely enchanting series of days. There were sessions on engagement and meaningful inclusion, punctuated by long walks on white-sand beaches and around beautiful lochs.

Sessions offered at the lab were wide ranging and broad on things such as engagement, equality and diversity with a focus on increasing capacity of women working in film. For so long, it has felt as if we have “swam against the tide”: against the tide of predominantly white funder as BAME organisations, as BAME communities resisting exploitation, as women in a male dominated industry, as working class people in an industry predicated on the “middle class”.

For the first time in so long, it was a breath of a sweet breeze to be in a room full of like-minded people who are all thinking and feeling the same things about film and the organic audience development.

As a Welsh practitioner, it was especially good to be in Scotland owing to our shared similarities in some instances- of the devolved landscape in Wales and Scotland compared to England. I learned a tremendous amount about the similarities between Wales and Scotland around programming, devolution and funding.

A number of different speakers were present, including Toki Allison of Inclusive Cinema talking about engagement, and I particularly enjoyed hearing from Holly Tarquini of F-Rated and Rachel Hayward. This event and these discussions and sessions have enabled me to broaden my capacity and my knowledge base around areas relating to inclusivity and film.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to apply, attend and receive financial support from Film Hub Wales. There are more similarities between us and difference audiences and cinemas than we may think. I will be implementing the knowledge I have learned and the skills I have gained to make film and audience access and development more accessible for everybody- regardless of background- and I would not have been able to do this without the Women in Film development lab. More broadly speaking, it allowed me to consolidate my knowledge in a nurturing atmosphere and environment and allowed me to learn about broadening my capacity to best serve the communities around me.

Continuing personal development doesn’t always have to be imbued with the same 10-4 events, stagnant, stale and lacking lustre followed by reams and reams of paperwork. The Tiree lab was a life changing experience to be in a room full of passionate people all with the same aim: positive change for the industry regardless of your class, your race for a better and more accessible industry for everybody.

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