What did you want to be growing up?
For the longest time, I was quite set on going into politics. But funnily enough, it was around the time that I started working more closely with politicians, that I quickly realised it wasn’t quite for me! The motivation though, came from an interest in drama, in oratory and in story-telling. I knew I was interested in engaging with current affairs, with contemporary culture and with marginalised stories; and after a few years of working in journalism and photography during university, I turned to film as a natural confluence for creativity, public messaging and personal growth.
Do you feel you need a formal education for what you do?
I specialised in international relations, law and conflict at UCL. It gave me a strong foundation in terms of building arguments, analysing the structure of a narrative, and an awareness of global geopolitics and history that I’ve carried with me since. But it also confirmed that I didn’t want to live in a world of theory, and I ended up spending most of my student loan travelling to places we were studying, like Cairo during the Arab Spring, to Beijing off the back of a climate politics course, and Kabul for human rights stories.
I definitely don’t think you need a formal education, let alone in film, to become a filmmaker today. There are enough resources online to learn the technicalities. Probably the one thing you need to work on harder, is finding a group of peers and mentors whom you can grow with and trust on your own terms.
What were your initial jobs when you were starting out?
I was freelancing for newspapers, taking photos for weddings, making SME [small and medium-sized enterprises] corporate films. I remember a lot of emailing and cold calls, which, after a lot of rejections, led to an unofficial internship that afforded me a leg up. The adage ‘fake it till you make it’ helped me when I needed it most. Though I’m still finding my feet in some ways, I’ve probably amended that to ‘be honest, trust you’ll make it, and practice till you do.’