Bluebird Pictures is an organisation supporting filmmakers from all walks of life

As a filmmaker of colour, Bluebird Pictures founder and CEO, Joelle Mae David was tired of the ‘diversity schemes’ in the film and television industry. As she says, “What I find is that most of these schemes want filmmakers of colour to create something about being ‘of colour’. This is limiting diversity, NOT uplifting it. What about filmmakers of colour who want to write a Sci Fi film, or women who want to direct horror?” Indeed, it’s a valid question. Why should anyone be limited to – it has to be said – a stereotypical storyline? Haven’t we all had enough of that, and isn’t it time to let people be, well, people? The idea of limiting someone’s creativity to race, gender or religion is, frankly, patronising. That’s not to say that race, religion or gender isn’t an influence, but to say that the end result should be about the subject at hand, with those influences enriching the work, rather than stifling it.

This feeling of frustration was the spark that launched Bluebird Pictures, as a vehicle to create content with real representation in mind. Using her experience of working in TV and film, Joelle set about to form a space for honest, inclusive, creative expression. It soon expanded to training and events to offer help for and highlight under-represented areas in the industry. Bluebird passionately believes that no part of the industry should be unobtainable to those from marginalised groups in society, with a focus on creating opportunities.

Bluebird believes that there is a wealth of young talent existing within East London, and in Barking and Dagenham, the borough in which they are based. It simply needs to be given opportunities to flourish. And, with the new Dagenham film studios coming, it’s crucial to engage the creative community. One of the ways this is achieved is by providing workshops and master-classes every month, as well as an inclusive trainee scheme.

By providing world-class training in below-the-line jobs in the TV and film industry, as well as creating content reflecting the world we live in today, it’s been quite successful. As Joelle says, “It’s important that young people from all walks of life are afforded the opportunity to tell their own stories, as well as be included in the rich tapestry of the TV & film industry that already exists.“

Offering a safe space for people to learn, form collaborations and connections as well as work on productions allows young filmmakers to gain needed experience to enter the industry confidently. The hope is to create a model for inclusion in the industry, both through productions and by offering training – initially in Barking and Dagenham, and eventually as a model to be used elsewhere in the country and internationally.

2018 saw Bluebird Pictures launch their first ever film festival, The World Cinema Film Festival; a means of celebrating culture and diversity. Now in its second year, Bluebird is launching the next festival and submissions are now open for short films or documentaries under 20 minutes that depict ‘culture’ or, more specifically, ‘what does culture mean to you?’ The event will be held in June with an international winner (including UK) and a Barking and Dagenham winner in each category.

Winners will receive meetings with industry professionals as a means to bridge the industry gap, Final Draft screenwriting software, a trophy and screening at the festival itself. Looking to the future, it’s hoped that the festival will go from strength to strength, providing a voice as well as lucrative opportunities for participants.

Born and raised in East London within a multi-cultural family, Joelle has worked across the board in the media industry, from digital night editor at The Sun Newspaper and The Daily Mirror, to production assistant at the Premier League and assistant director in TV & film, on productions such as Aladdin, Tomb Raider, Lost in London, and Guerrilla. She has produced and directed a documentary series called ‘Hidden Talent’ on BBC 3 as well as other short, passion projects.

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