Through new tuition scholarships and mutually-beneficial internship opportunities, film production companies are stepping up to support promising young documentary makers from diverse backgrounds.
The impacts of the pandemic have made sourcing internship or paid work opportunities particularly challenging.
In 2020 Goldsmiths, University of London MA Filmmaking (Screen Documentary) course convenor Daisy Asquith asked on social media if any production companies would be willing to cover the postgraduate fees of three talented black or minority ethnic students.
Two production companies quickly answered the call to action, with creative agency DRUM and factual, features and factual entertainment studio Crackit Productions each covering the full cost of tuition for one of the students, with the creation of a BAME Industry Scholarship.
Damilola Lemomu and Imoje Aikhoje were also offered internships at the companies one day a week, offering practical help and a fresh perspective.
A third student, Amber Akaunu, received a scholarship from BAFTA. All three students will finish the MA in August 2021 and graduate in December.
Daisy Asquith hopes that more production companies and industry bodies will take steps to overcome barriers to access and consider contributing vital support for promising talent in the early stages of their careers.
Daisy, a documentary filmmaker with over 20 years’ experience making films for the BBC, Channel 4, BFI, the Irish Film Board and more, said: “Our industry desperately needs fresh voices and the MA in Screen Documentary at Goldsmiths is working hard to provide them. We have students with a wide range of identities, sexualities, class backgrounds and ethnicities, from all over the world.
“They are encouraged to find their own authorial style, while gaining a confident knowledge of the documentary making process, ethical challenges, practical producing and creative opportunities in camera, sound and editing. The course is highly competitive, so production companies can be confident they are getting the very best interns possible. I am delighted that this idea has worked out so well for both producers and students.”
Elaine Hackett, Creative Director at Crackit Productions has been working with Damilola (Damie) and said: “Damie’s fantastic. So much so, we’ve had her pitching her own idea to the documentary commissioner at the BBC. She’s been a real asset and we’re giving her the opportunity to work with us right across the slate which is incredibly diverse. I’m so pleased we decided to help support her. She’s ace.”
Andy Spray, Joint Head of DRUM, said: “We are so happy to be able to support Imoje at this crucial stage in his development as a film maker and it’s great to have someone with such talent as part of the DRUM team. We are very lucky to have him on board.”
A London-based director, editor and writer, Imoje Aikhoje originally starting out in music videos. He has gone on to write and direct a number of shorts, edit commercials and work on productions for the BBC, Channel 4, CNN, Google and Stylist Magazine.
Imoje said: “Being awarded the DRUM Global BAME Industry Scholarship was honestly a dream come true. After years of trying to find my own way, Drum and Goldsmiths stepped in to help bridge the gap in my creative growth. Getting this opportunity feels like validation for all the work I'd put into getting this far and I'm incredibly grateful.”
Damilola Lemomu is a documentary filmmaker based in London. She co-directed Shades of Blue (2020), a short artistic documentary exploring the mental health of black individuals in London which screened as part of BFI Film Academy SCENE 2020 and Women X Festival 2020. She recently worked as a Digital Assistant for Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and also produced The Sublet Next To Heaven by Madeleine Accalia, which made its debut at VAULT Festival 2020 and was longlisted for the Women's Prize for Playwriting 2020.
Damilola said: “Through this scholarship I have been able to immerse myself in a year of experimenting with making a range of documentary films at Goldsmiths, an experience I wouldn’t have been able to afford to have otherwise.
“Not only have I been able to collaborate and build networks with filmmaking students on the programme, but a significant part of this scholarship has been the experience I have gained working with the Development team at Crackit from formulating new ideas for TV, designing treatments, to assisting with access and casting - all valuable skills I am really grateful to have acquired this year.”
Find out more about the MA Filmmaking (Screen Documentary) at Goldsmiths