- Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I studied Politics at Lancaster University which is where I got into video making. I wanted to create exciting content that would educate & sensitise people to the complex issues I was studying and felt passionate about. There were a few basic courses on how to operate a camera and use editing software, and a friend and I won a competition through the course for work experience at a small production house in Manchester in the summer of 2012. I loved it, so I invested in some basic equipment and began work on my first documentary The Feminist Library: A Short Film in 2015. I’ve since tried to get as much experience as possible while I work part-time, which at this stage is usually always on a voluntary basis. I’ve edited a web series, created promotional material for music bands, and worked as a video maker for the International Journalism Festival in Italy. Baby steps! I hope to develop a career that will allow me to tell the stories that need to be heard, and create content at the forefront of cultural change.
- What compelled you to produce this short film?
At the time I was deeply interested in personal empowerment, which for me naturally developed into a passion for feminism. I had just written a blog unpacking the shame around women’s body hair which went viral in March 2015. I wanted to be involved in projects that would talk openly about feminism, oppression and all the big and small ways in which it impacts us. When my friend suggested we make a feminist documentary I didn’t think twice about it.
- Places like the Feminist Library preserve women's history. How can they also help create a better future for them?
Places like the Feminist Library are a source of education. They help us to understand where we’ve come from, what we’ve inherited and how we are able to live the life we do today as women. Without that knowledge we are denied our own history, an important identity, and a deeper appreciation of what’s at stake. Women’s history (or herstory) isn’t taught at schools, so we don’t get any sense of how women struggled and suffered for the rights we enjoy today. Listening to the incredible stories of the women who came before us is such a humbling experience, and a history we should feel proud of. We then, crucially, become aware of what still needs to be done in order for true gender equality to become a lived reality. We develop a sense of solidarity, we explore our own experiences of oppression and we then contribute in ways big or small to the creation of what we want to see - an equal society. Awareness changes the world - places like the Feminist Library provide that by archiving and safeguarding our history.
- What were the highlights and low points of this project?
I filmed the documentary with no money, the most basic equipment and very little prior experience. I carried out the entire post-production process by myself for the first time, and had to negotiate various issues with the library’s founding collective which meant weeks spent waiting for decisions to be made about the final cut & the film’s promotion. At times it was a very frustrating, long slog. But it was entirely worth it. Interviewing women who were involved in the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s & 80s was an education in itself, and hearing their stories and their passion was both humbling and empowering.
- As mentioned in the film by Alice Wroe (Herstory UK) "society would not allow them [women] to grow in that way"; as an independent content creator, have you encountered any gender based censorship issues?
I interviewed a woman who had extremely controversial views on the Transgender community. As a documentary filmmaker I wanted to include her comments in the film and then highlight an important counter-narrative in support of transgender lives. The issues they face are not given enough attention, their voices not being heard. I also wanted to educate viewers on some of the issues that exist within feminism, especially between different generations of feminists who often have such divergent opinions on what it means to be a ‘woman’, or a feminist. These are discussions that need to be had in order to highlight the oppression faced by trans men and women, who are one of the most vulnerable communities and who, I believe, live some of the most courageous lives. By their very existence they break the gender norms that people still hold so dear. Unfortunately the library’s collective would not allow me to include the footage, as it could have stirred up a difficult history with the trans community which they are trying to mend. It was a frustrating experience, but taught me much about how to position myself as a filmmaker in order not to have to make such compromises again.
- Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?
In September I will be transitioning full time into creating content in some capacity, either as a video maker or at entry level in the film & TV industry. I also have some articles I want to publish as I’m a writer at heart(!) and ideas for a YouTube women’s series covering issues faced by vulnerable women, but I hope to have a little more financial stability before embarking on those. Finding stability in a creative industry isn’t always easy, but taking on the challenge I know will be entirely worth it.