By Ruth Holder
A constant reminder young people are told by their families, teachers, politicians and the media. An expectation set by society that all of the world’s problems will be solved by the next generation. Yet when young people exceed those expectations or become ambitious with their dreams, they are told to ‘stay in education’, ‘get a job’ or ‘start small’.
As a young woman aged 19, I can relate to these issues that young people face on a regular basis. My whole life I was told that I needed to get good grades so I could go to university, so that’s all I aimed to achieve.
I went to primary school and passed my SATs, went to secondary school and passed my GCSEs, went to college and passed my A-Levels, till I finally got to university and all I could think was: “What am I going to do now?”
My whole life, I worked towards achieving this goal but when I accomplished it I had nothing left to motivate me. I found no reason to justify the hard work I put into my studies and I began to feel like I had no purpose in life.
Being at university didn’t help my situation either. I was surrounded by so much negativity that it influenced by actions. All my classmates complained about the course and the teachers, so I imitated them. I struggled with my self-confidence and coming out of my shell because of my past experiences of being bullied in secondary school, and I was frustrated because I wasn’t able to make the films that I wanted to create.
The only place where I felt like I could truly be myself was at a fighting game society at my university. There I met so many people who had similar interests to me and were also like-minded. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was part of a community, I felt like I finally belonged somewhere.
This is what the film scene in Birmingham doesn’t have enough of. Places where young people can meet up and connect with others who share their interests in film. Instead, they’re forced to keep their passions to themselves and between their friends or to connect with others online.
But that is about to change.
Recently, in association with Mockingbird Cinema, Cassie Smyth created the Birmingham Young Filmmakers Network (BYFN), an organisation that hosts monthly meetups for young people aged 16-21, in order to give them a space to meet anyone who shares their interests in film and to network and collaborate with others on projects of their own.
On August 19th, the first meet-up took place at Mockingbird Cinema Bar & Kitchen and the event had a great turnout! Three filmmakers, myself (Ruth Holder), Rajab Mahmood and Sam shared films that I/they created and received feedback and praise from our fellow attendees.
This is what some of the attendees had to say about the event:
“I found that congregating with young filmmakers around a similar age to me, really broadened my views as to finding that our goals are achievable. What Cassie has set up is a fantastic opportunity that’ll hopefully allow us to grow as individuals and filmmakers. The struggles of young filmmakers mainly relies on opportunity, and the fact that this has been set up is simply great. I think the BYFN can help us all to meet others, learn what it’s like in the industry - albeit on a smaller scale - and flourish as filmmakers.” - Toshiq Azam
“Having recently left university with a media production degree. I am among the many applying for entry roles into the media industry. Applying for media jobs has become somewhat difficult, becoming trapped in a recurring cycle of rejection, where applicants in most cases, never find out what went wrong or where to improve. To be informed you’re unsuccessful for a job role can be disappointing but the worst feeling is progressing through a job application, to never hear from said company again.
By attending the first BYFN meet up, I realised there was a gap in communication for young filmmakers, with many of the attendees possessing amazing talents, but lacking a network where they can put their abilities to practice. Being a people person myself, the event was a great opportunity to meet fresh faces to share ideas with and make friends. To have a community where like-minded people can develop their understanding of the media industry and gain extra skills is a strong start, to help us take our first steps into a larger world.” - Matt Ellgood
“The event was very encouraging to see young people my age from Birmingham, who are actually interested in filmmaking are are actually doing something about it. I enjoyed every part of it from the favourite movie discussions before the event started and the films we got to see afterwards. Everyone was nice, passionate and most of all everyone loved films.” - Yonatan Tiruneh
“I found the first BYFN meet-up an enriching experience in getting to know raw young talent based in Birmingham, who have the potential to be significant influential leaders in the entertainment industry. I’m 101% sure that’s bound to happen.” - Rajab Mahmood
So, if you’re interested in film and you’re looking for an event to attend, the BYFN is hosting another event on September 26th at the Community Hub in John Lewis at Grand Central. So invite your friends and meet other like-minded individuals who share the same passion for film has you do!
I look forward to seeing you all there!
If you are 16-21 and would like to meet like minded people you can register for our next event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/birmingham-young-filmmakers-network-meet-up-tickets-70014448099?aff=ebdssbdestsearch