New Voices 2020: Meet the Participants

BFI NETWORK South West, in partnership with production companies Blak Wave & Little By Little Films, are pleased to present our participants for the New Voices scheme 2020. This talent development opportunity aims to help aspiring South West based filmmakers looking to develop their five-minute short film idea.

The New Voices scheme aims to support new and aspiring filmmakers who may face barriers accessing the BFI NETWORK Short Film Funding. We recognise that filmmakers can feel excluded from accessing funding by existing application processes and we have created this new approach to encourage new voices to break through.

The shortlisted participants will work with BFI NETWORK on the first draft of their short film idea script. Then up to four projects will be selected to move forward to be matched-up with either Blak Wave or Little By Little Films, who will mentor each filmmaker under the supervision of the BFI NETWORK Talent Executive. Peer sharing will also be encouraged throughout the programme as we believe there is great value in creatives learning from each other.

Jon Aitken

Based in Bristol

Jon is a writer and director endlessly fascinated by the queer experience. His work reflects the complexities and contradictions of being anything but straight in our world (and others) and finds humour in the most mundane of situations.

He currently works in the arts as a filmmaker creating factual content for organisations about people and their projects but is eager to move into narrative fiction and comedy. Jon is also part of Queer Vision, Bristol Pride’s film festival.

Scott Bayliss

Based in Bristol

Scott is a Bristol based Actor, Model, and all around creative. Scott trained at The Identity School of Acting and was a member of The Bristol Old Vic’s Made in Bristol, while also being a former board member of The Creative Youth Networks Artistic Steering Group. Credits include a national tour of ‘The Long Walk Back’ with RoughHouse Theatre and ‘SPILL’ with Propolis Theatre at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Scott is also a Co-founder of SON Tribe Media a Bristol based entertainment platform.

Mevis Birungi

Based in Bristol

Mevis is a Ugandan-born British writer, actor and aspiring director with a passion for film and storytelling, originally with a strong focus on acting. She initially wrote scripts to create acting opportunities for herself and has since developed a passion for creating female-led stories depicting real issues that society ignores, often writing from a psychological perspective drawn from her BA Degree in Psychology.

She has acted in a feature film and eight short films, including recent self-made short film ‘Inner’ during lockdown. Her goal is to make her own films and collaborate on others through writing, directing, acting, and editing. As a writer, her short film Housewarming has been well received among festivals. Her upcoming film ‘Nakato’ was selected for the BBC’s New Creative’s scheme and will be released in 2021.

She is part of the Creative Workforce for the Future programme: placed in industry jobs, namely Knowle West Media Centre as a Junior Digital Producer, Aardman Animations as a Development Assistant and A productions as a Layout Assistant learning and building an industry professional resumé.

Jessica De Silva

Based in Bristol

Jessica is an award-winning Visual Artist and new Writer/Director who has a background in community theatre and art festivals. Jessica describes themselves as a creative facilitator; currently running digital workshops for Creative Futures Lockdown designed by and for BAME womxn and non-binary people to ignite and support creativity during lockdown.

Jessica’s practise is focused on diasporic narratives and traditional folklore fantasy. They want to celebrate the intersectionality in queer identities and make films that explore the ever-changing meaning of home. Jessica’s directing debut is truly the culmination of a summer of unlearning and challenging new understandings within, with a hope these stories are able to radically push forward conversations on immigration and the ‘Black: other’ experience.

Issy Franklin

Based in Gloucestershire

Issy is a writer/director from Gloucestershire, and a 2020 delegate of The Network, Edinburgh TV Festival’s talent scheme. She has written and directed several short films with the BFI Film Academy at the Bristol Old Vic and Screen Education Edinburgh and was recently commissioned by BBC Arts and Arts Council England as part of the New Creatives scheme. ‘Trigger Bang’, her New Creatives short, told the stories of the invisible victims of Cancel Culture, exploring the real-life consequences of Internet vilification. Issy’s work is driven by her fascination with our increasingly polarised social and political climate, and she aims to use film to make sense of the grey areas between condemned and glorified topics. Her work in activism grounds this perspective, having written and delivered a speech on Women’s Safety in Public Spaces at the United Nation’s 63rd Convention on the Status of Women last year.

Xenia Glen

Based in Dorset

Xenia works at Misfits Entertainment across development and production. In 2020 Xenia made her directorial debut with ‘Sew’, a documentary about a mail-order bride. ‘Sew’ won the Talkies Commission and the Other Brother Fund. In 2018 Xenia produced ‘Porcelain’, an experimental short that explores skin lightening. ‘Porcelain’ won the Last Word Film Fund and was featured at the Roundhouse Festival. Before this Xenia worked at Shooting People on film commissions for Puma’s Films4Peace and Channel 4’s Random Acts. During this time Xenia founded New Shoots, Shooting People’s mentorship programme and fund. More recently Xenia has been selected for BFI Network x BAFTA Crew, the Widening the Lens scheme by Encounters Film Festival, the John Brabourne Award and Ex-Animo Fund. Her upcoming film ‘Backbone’ was selected for the BBC’s New Creative’s scheme and will be released in 2021.

Raquel Grela

Based in Bristol

Raquel is a Bristol-based actor originally from Madrid. Her passion for developing characters and exploring human behaviour quickly expanded into writing and directing for theatre and film. Her style and techniques are vastly wide, reflecting her natural flexibility and empathy.

As an actor she has over ten years of experience working internationally in productions such as the documentary ‘In A Foreign Land’ directed by Icíar Bollaín; the American commercial production ‘Monks 2’ directed by James Rouse, the dance short film ‘Shrouds Apart’ by Jen Lim and Tim Lo, and  feature film ‘House of Bricks’ directed by Hannah Silver.

During the last couple of years she has been developing her skills as a writer, amplifying her vision as a creator. She has directed theatre productions and a nine-part web series ‘Shit Talk’ [2020] which explores the different colours of a female friendship.

Dee Hassan

Based in Bristol

Dee Hassan is a Somali Bristol-based content creator and filmmaker with a passion for elevating voices in underrepresented groups in a truthful way. She believes well-crafted stories serve as mirrors for people who haven’t seem themselves represented in pop culture and windows into other people’s lives to promote understanding and cohesion. Dee’s background in journalism has informed the way she finds and researches stories to write about which ensures that every story has a with a well-researched truth at its root. Currently on a placement with Creative Workforce for the Future at Aardman Studios working as an Edit Assistant and has recently wrapped up with Bristol Old Vic as a commissioned artist, as part of a trio, to write and perform in an hour-long show. In her free time, you can find her scouring the internet for a rom-com she hasn’t seen yet.

Joe Inman

Based in Cornwall

Joe Inman is a filmmaker based in Cornwall. He has made both documentaries and fiction using community participation to underpin both forms. His graduation film, ‘14 Stories & 39 Lies’, was a collaboration with the residents of Penryn and Falmouth, using community storytelling and fictionalisation to create a piece that explores notions of transience and finding your own space within your community. He then went on to work for Cornish Heritage Trust, making a film about St Piran (the patron saint of Cornwall) as an educational resource for primary school children. Both these films won Cornish Culture Awards at Gorsedh Kernow. Joe Believes that filmmaking is a vital tool for communities to help explore and take ownership of their stories. His work addresses social issues such as mental health, often moving between the personal and the political. He hopes his next film, Spines, will help explore the effect dyslexia has on storytelling.

Malizah

Based in Bristol

Malizah is a Creative visionary and Writer from Bristol. Of Jamaican, Bajan, and Irish descent. Malizah has a background in performance poetry and audio production, scriptwriting, and article writing. She is interested in creating work that captures the human condition. Also very importantly highlighting and forming ideas of solutions to the inequalities and injustices within current society.  Her work draws upon Love and Equality. Ownership and self-empowerment. Whilst representing her love and dedication to Hip Hop lifestyle and culture.  She is inspired by leaders and lyricists such as Nipsey Hussle, Maya Angelou, and KRS ONE. Malizah creates for the experience of expression and building connections and community through art.  She continues to Hustle and Heal. Using her gifts as she says “Gifts Make Room. Clear Space.”

Christelle Pellecuer

Based in Bristol

Christelle is a makeup artist, writer and performer based in Bristol. After working for several years as a makeup artist in the fashion, film and TV industry, she has expanded her skills to writing.

 Christelle has written short film scripts, including Golden Goddess that has been produced into a short film and screened at Africa Eye film Festival in 2019 and selected, in 2020, by Film and Folklore Festival, Rapport Festival: Black Film Festival and Encounters Film Festival.

 Christelle is part of a small theatre company called Black Women Let Loose Theatre company and they write, perform, produce and direct their own materials and they have performed at Bristol Old Vic, St George’s and RADA Studio London.

 Christelle’s writing is based on her experience as a Black woman living in the diaspora and explores issues of identity, memory and displacement and she is inspired by African culture, traditions and mythologies.

Leah Rustomjee

Based in Bath

Leah is an emerging film director and writer. Using her cross-cultural upbringing and interest in intergenerational communication as a starting point, Leah wishes to make films that speak to the multiplicity of the human experience to foster curiosity, understanding and empathy.

Emily Serwadczak

Based in Wiltshire

Emily is an aspiring scriptwriter and director based in Wiltshire. After completing her BA (Hons) degree in Film & Video, she went on to study and achieve a Masters in Scriptwriting before taking time to focus on her health. This is Emily’s first opportunity since reentering the world of film and she wants to use her experiences from the last few years to tell stories that people can relate to. As someone who’s still living with their disability, Emily hopes to give a voice to those who aren’t having an easy time finding their way and may need that extra support getting into the industry.

Michael Benjamin Williams St Louis

Based in Bristol

Michael St Louis has always wanted to make music from a young age but back in the 90’s there was more practicality and imagination than opportunity. In 2004 he began music production which then led him to study film production in 2007 to learn how to make his own music video.

Since 2011 he has filmed, edited and discovered a lot of skills through experience and met a network of like-minded creatives. He enjoys music videos; he sees everything as a music video or a movie.

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