In Conversation With...Together TV's Content team

As we enter the post pandemic world, connecting to the people we care about and getting in touch with our communities has never been more important. Sharing stories binds us closer, especially the stories of those that aren’t championed enough. Together TV’s Diverse Film Fund was always intent on sharing these narratives, but the pandemic uncovered the need for opportunities to vocalise the community spirit. The fund supports emerging filmmakers in their journey of sharing societal issues through the power of film and expanding representation on and off screen.

The 2021 Diverse Film Fund theme is Black British Lives Today. Five filmmakers were chosen from over 170 to make a short documentary focusing on this theme. These filmmakers are Ikram Ahmed, Alexandra Genova, Sheila Kayuma, Jason Osborne and Blaise Singh. Each filmmaker received £10,000 to make their short film as well as mentoring from industry experts throughout the experience.

Janet Olaofe, Head of Content and Scheduling at Together TV, has led the initiative since its inception and together with her team Hannah Beaugeard, Development Executive and and Ben Harcourt, Scheduling Assistant has coordinated the fund and assisted the filmmakers throughout their experience. Janet believes that the fund will provide viewers “a glimpse into the lives of Black people in the UK, and this year’s short films have lined up perfectly with Black History Month in October.”

They have been working tirelessly with the filmmakers as they navigated through the experience of creating their first films during the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. Hannah shared with us her experience of being involved with the Diverse Film Fund, as she was also the executive producer for some.

It was extremely important to Together TV that the filmmakers were provided with the tools necessary to help develop their careers, which included advice and training from well-known industry professionals like Khalid from Naked and Helen Landeau. Such guidance ensured that the filmmakers could create their documentaries legally, safely and responsibly. Together TV also provided each filmmaker with additional funding to submit their pieces to film festivals. 

The team has glowing reviews of each filmmaker as they have been able to show Black British lives through different lenses.

Jason, whose enthusiasm and attitude to filmmaking are infectious, has a unique style that makes him an amazing storyteller. It’s a part of who he is and the team believes that this film is going to touch so many.

Ikram was able to document an area of the UK that isn’t well-represented on television, but also create an inspiring message from there.

Alexandra’s background in journalism undeniably helped her research for her film "Our Land". Alexandra utilised two years of research to produce her documentary on a topic that has been gaining momentum in the agricultural industry.

Sheila's commitment to produce a film to such a high level of quality is amazing, especially whilst studying for a master’s degree as well as working on the side.

Blaise has impressively directed, shot and edited his documentary single-handedly. This is largely unheard of in emerging filmmakers and is reflective of his passion to capture people’s stories in the right way.

“This is only the beginning for the kind of stories that are shown by these filmmakers and as a broadcaster there is a responsibility to represent stories that aren’t told, so people can understand that narrative.”

The 2021 Diverse Film Fund films will premiere on Together TV’s channel throughout Black History Month, October. Follow us and the filmmakers on social media to be the first to hear when and learn more about the films on our website.

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