According to stats from the British Film Institute, when it comes to UK independent films, women still make up a slim proportion of directors and writers. Two Bristol organisations have been trying to change that…

Women are under-represented in many areas of film and video production, and over the past few months, Bristol-based arts organisation Knowle West Media Centre has been helping to challenge this imbalance and amplify the voices of talented women who haven’t had a platform to tell their stories on film.

Thanks to funding from Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever, since January, the centre – which helps people to make positive changes in their lives and communities using technology and the arts to come up with creative solutions to problems – has spent the past months delivering an intense film training programme for Bristol women.

Knowle West Media Centre

Since 1996, the charity has offered a range of activities, business development initiatives, a diverse exhibition programme and opportunities for young people to learn skills in media production – and last year, when the new funding was received, the team decided it was time for a change of lens and a new perspective.

The programme saw 14 young women enjoying weekly training to develop their professional skills and create two short films, and included talks from visiting speakers, opportunities to network with others working in film and TV, and sessions in scriptwriting, camera and lighting, sound recording, working with actors, 2D animation, production design and puppetry. Early on, the women formed two production crews and began developing ideas. Each crew received a bursary to spend on production – hiring actors, props, costume, make-up and catering – and the resulting films, Blood Warriors (facebook.com/bloodwarriorsfilm) and Black Cherry (facebook.com/blackcherryfilmUK), were screened recently at Arnolfini with Bristol Film Festival. “The experience has been amazing,” said Kam Gandhi, director of coming-of-age story Black Cherry. “Who would have thought: before applying for the scheme I was thinking of giving up on filmmaking and now I feel the exact opposite – I’m certain this is what I want to do!”

“Discovering and developing new female filmmakers are essential components in ensuring equality and diversity in the UK film workforce,” added Lisa Howe at Creative Skillset. “We are so pleased to have supported KWMC in the ‘From Her Point of View’ project, encouraging women to not just develop their creative voices, but to learn and build confidence in practical craft and technical skills.”

Visit kwmc.org.uk/projects to find out more; email enquiries@kwmc.org.uk for more on training and film programmes

Featured image © Jessica Kathleen Brady, from Blood Warriors – a modern-day period drama