Alistair Wragg (Social Media Consultant)
As a recent graduate in International Tourism Management, my degree allowed me to build up a great spread of industry knowledge which became more focused toward marketing and social media but I found bridging the gap between education and employment to be an important issue.
“I had spent some time working as a marketing assistant for a business consultancy firm, and as a social media consultant for an app company, when I decided to apply for Contented’s ontente co-production. I was offered a place with the team working in Prague during the One World International Human Rights Film Festival.
“This experience has helped me grow massively both personally and professionally, developing skills and ideas about working independently. Collaborating with freelancers and people starting businesses opened my eyes to new ways of thinking, especially in terms of the traditional career route. I was able to express my creative side and was encouraged and supported by the group in both my personal and professional investigations. I am developing a website http://sociusodyssey.com where I hope to build a portfolio and reputation as a travel writer.
“Interviewing and networking with professionals and other people actively seeking to impact positively on the world will stay with me in my career ahead.
“I was truly amazed at what a small group of focused individuals can achieve when they have the freedom, will, work ethic, incentive and inspiration to do so. Thank you to everyone at Contented. I shall be forever grateful.”
Film makers from the West have some much to learn from our so called ‘distant’ cousins… I cannot thank Contented enough for this extraordinary, yet short voyage into post-communist Czech Republic.
Tace Bayliss is a filmmaker and writer, specialising in post-colonial African cinema and its diaspora, who joined us on the Ontente co-production in Prague 2012. She graduated in Film & Animation from University London.
As a visiting lecturer at Institut de Medias Paris, she has taught aspects of European film production, film finance and African film production. In collaboration with the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) she organised a screening of the multi award winning feature length documentary, “Blood in the Mobile.” which was followed by an in-conversation between Tace and the Director, Frank Piasecki Poulsen, on social themes inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the documentary is set.
She is currently adapting a series of novels into screenplays for television and film whilst also producing a feature film about African’s living in the diaspora.
This is what Tace had to say about her experience with Contented’s Ontente co-production in Prague 2012:
It was great eye-opener to see how different companies and media worked in Prague. I really got a sense of community from the Czech film makers. They work so very sincerely within the frames of their micro budgets. Evoking stories of beauty and truth, laced in dismay.
There was a feeling of restraint and caution yet haunting beauty in a lot of the work of Czech animators and film directors. This was the visual journey that I most enjoyed and educated myself with during my time with Contented in Prague.
We as film makers from the West have some much to learn from our so called ‘distant’ cousin….I cannot thank Contented enough for this extraordinary, yet short voyage into post communist Czech Republic.
Drew Roper (Director, Yamination Studios)
“The Ontente Programme taught me about the importance of networking, collaboration and also a little insight into how a business could potentially run. For this I am forever grateful”
Drew Roper a 26 year old animator from Walsall, West Midlands who “always wanted to be Walt Disney (or a footballer)” is well on his way to realising his dream. The graduate of Southampton Solent University and Former Young Ambassador of the Prince’s Trust (Nominated for YA of the Year 2012) with 5 years industry experience, is now Director of his own studio,Yamination Studios. His latest short film “At-issue” (to be released early 2014) has just received sponsorship of £30,000 from Sky Arts, plus achieved a further £14,000 from crowd-funding as part of a Kickstarter campaign.
Proud of his Black Country heritage Drew wanted to “put The Midlands on the map for the creative industries” with his immediate ambition to create innovative and charming feature films, TV series and commercials. Drew’s participation on the Ontente co-production in 2012 helped him understand the value of ideas exchange and collaboration and in the future he aims to develop an apprenticeship scheme giving young talent a chance to thrive.
“Being given the opportunity of visiting such a beautiful city/country, was alone inspiring but to be involved with such a different mix of individuals was a real insight into working with people (as animators you tend to work alone)…I’ve taken this with me into my work. As a result my Sky Arts and IdeasTap funded animated short “At-issue” has housed at least 85 people collaborating in some way or another and now my studio has a team of an extremely talented bunch of individuals that is 10+ strong!”
Kim Bui (TV Producer)
Following her Masters degree in Birmingham, Vietnamese journalist Kim Bui used her six-month right-to-work to invest in a place on the Ontente programme. With English as a second language, and restrictive new laws on employing foreigners, it was always going to be tough to compete for a job in Britain. Contented was able to help Kim secure a visa for two weeks in the Baltic states where she developed a network of companies across Europe with their eyes on Asian co-production and sales.
“I intended to use the programme to brush up on my time-management and networking skills in the hope of finding a job before my UK visa expired,” she says. “Once on the programme, I realised that I needed to play to my strengths and began to research what creative businesses were doing in my own country. I discovered it’s one of the best export opportunities in the world, with European delegations led by none other than British film producer Lord Puttnam himself.
“Now I plan to set up a business as a fixer back home, helping companies organise productions there or enter the market.
“Ontente is exactly why international students choose to study in the UK,” adds Kim.
As an organisational leader, I was able to use the Ontente experience to experiment with getting people to buy in to new ideas and projects. Since completing Ontente, I have been able to apply some of these leadership lessons to get people in my own company on board with new ideas and projects.
My work combines media production with my passion for social justice — particularly in the area around drug addiction and recovery. In Prague, my project was to research the national context of drug users, while exploring my own leadership. I met a top civil servant and recorded an interview with the only doctor in Prague prescribing Methadone, still a highly-controversial activity in this socially conservative state. All within two weeks from a standing start. Thanks to Contented and its brilliant networking skills, I had greater access both at grassroots and senior levels than I could ever get in the UK.
Back in October of 2011 I was ready to give up many things, too many. I will not say that Ontente saved me as it is only one that saves him/herself however I will say that being part of the group and being able to help, feeling I could do something useful was a door opener for me!!
It showed me that not only could I go out and have fun with other people accepting me and seeing me as an equal but they thought I could be useful to them.
I have become richer because friends are treasures; I have become wiser as I have learned new things; and I have seen that it is TRUE that there is not only one path, but many. It showed me that I could even inspire people!
I am aware that Ontente was one of the reasons that nowadays, even though I don’t have a full-time job yet [I’m focusing on getting my driving licence] I don’t despair – at least, not as much as before – and that if you keep on fighting and going to unexpected places you can end up not just helping yourself but also others.
I was a delegate on the 2012 Prague placement to the One World human rights film festival and it couldn’t have come at a better time. After a career in Arts Marketing spanning 12 years I had decided to re-evaluate.
I began my career in marketing after having trained as a contemporary dancer, and after working through the ranks from Marketing Assistant, I was promoted to Communications Manager at Trinity Laban, a world renowned Conservatoire for Music and Dance. In this role I managed a Creative Team of Graphic Designers and Web Content Producers and was responsible for Creative Direction, Brand Development and Management, Web Development, Social Media Campaigns and Digital Marketing Strategies.
Since the Prague trip I have found an deep interest in sustainable living and plan to relocate and create a life for myself with reduced longterm environmental impact. In the short term I have been developing my portfolio career, working as a dancer and dance teacher and also worked in a dance project with blind and partially sighted people. In addition to this I have been building my own freelance marketing projects and have also worked with Contented to develop the Ontente programme and its marketing.
Although my career and financial future is still not stable as it had been previously, I have found a freedom and enjoyment in planning my future which I previously had very little time for and I think participating in the Ontente programme helped me transition into that way of living.
The Prague programme in 2012 was a great experience. It helped me focus on new ways of working, and gave me the chance to try things out in a safe environment. The programme helped me identify my skills and how I can apply them outside my core business area.
I have 20 years experience as a facilitator and trainer with experience of community development and social housing and a reputation for an inclusive and participatory facilitation style. For eight years I managed involvement within South Warwickshire Housing Association and subsequently Orbit Heart of England and previously I set up the successful East Midlands Tenant Participation Forum following many years with the Tenant Participation Advisory Service working across the country to train and engage staff and residents.
Since the Prague placement I’ve extended my training and facilitation into new areas, including a return to Prague to facilitate the 2013 programme.
Jeremy Nichols (teacher & author)
I was a delegate on the 2012 Ontente programme to the Scanorama film festival in Vilnius, Lithuania. I had some time to spare, and as I have a love of cinema and Eastern European culture generally, it was too good an opportunity to miss. As the group task on the programme was to create ‘Pop-up TV’ reporting on the festival, I was a little concerned that my tendencies towards writing and amateur photography wouldn’t be very useful. On the other hand I saw the possibilities that were there for learning new skills from other members of a group.
I needn’t have worried at all. The group that met in Vilnius was highly talented and skilled, with a wide range of abilities and experience, and everyone was keen to ‘muck in’ and share their skills to create high quality short films.
From the other team members I learnt quite a few technical things about operating a film camera, editing films and subtitling. More important to me, though, were the things I learnt about conducting interviews on-camera (the role I most enjoyed) and also about the film industry in general. Interviewing and just chatting to producers and directors about filmmaking and international co-productions was probably the most interesting and rewarding part of the programme for me. I find this has opened up views and thoughts about the film industry that are new to me.
The Vilnius programme was in November last year. This is March, and I’ve just finished two weeks’ work on a major feature film for Pinewood Studios. I think I’m going to keep exploring.
Jaemes Gregory (script editor)
I am a filmmaker still adapting to the odyssey one independent director would have to embark on these days, and am always looking to improve myself as well as my skills. Contented offered the perfect environment for this, and really changed my outlook and creative motivation, Ontente really gave us the opportunity to explore and develop ourselves in a place which was new and full of excitement.
From the moment I stepped off the plane I found myself surrounded by compassionate and caring individuals from many backgrounds in a new found world. From the very beginning, one thing was clear, I was surrounded by a team full of devotion, ready to face any challenge, which really raised my motivation to work with everyone. We were provided group sessions and innovative creative exercises to entice ourselves with, which helped everyone to get comfortable and gave us the opportunity to express who we all were. I found everyone was eager to explore new aspects of themselves and develop their skills in order to achieve something amazing, and as a screenwriter I even started to see the credentials of an amazing journey forming; one which perhaps one day may find a place of its own within the page’s of a story. I recognized exactly where we were as we battled our way through obstacles which stood in our way, and despite confrontation, we always found a way to break through as a team. There were times when we were tested unexpectedly and suddenly I recognized the urgency we all had to define our purpose and identity within this new found environment, and strive to make the right choice. By the end of the trip I found myself looking amongst the group on the crowded plane, admiring others for their will to stop at no costs, and was transformed. I cannot express through words what ‘Ontente’ did for me and how it helped me shed the flaws I had burning within and create a new foundation of strength in order to move forward.
The programme was led by Gerard Davies, who was always concerned with making sure we all had a safe creative space to work in, and ensured everyone one had equal opportunities at all times. He was always willing to sacrifice his time to offer one to one mentorship and his efforts to help us become clear of our goals and professional aspirations which will never go unappreciated. I sincerely hope that ‘Ontente’ will do the best for people striving to recognise their dreams and give them all that is required for the road ahead, where ever it may take them.