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Film & TV Industry Podcast

#2: Making Your Way Through Film School with Shamaila Zaman and Sinead McCool – Making It: Women in Film

This is the transcript for the second episode of Making It: Women in Film. In this episode, Shania and Evita sit down with Shamaila Zaman and Sinead McCool – two film students at SAE Institute in Glasgow alongside Shania – to talk about everything from film school, the need for better representation of Muslims in film, the power of seeing women on set, and how lockdown has changed our approach to filmmaking.

#16 | Horror Films and Feminism with Expert Alison Peirse Making It: Women in Film

Dr Alison Peirse is a film professor and writer of "After Dracula", "Korean Horror Cinema", and "Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre". In this episode, we talk all about the history of women in horror and women creating horror, as well as advice for new filmmakers and horror movie recommendations to watch on Halloween! Join our community of women filmmakers over on Instagram @MakingItWomenInFilm Follow Alison on Instagram @AlisonPeirse, and purchase "Women Make Horror" here. Follow Shania on Instagram @ShaniaBethune and @ShaniaFilm Follow Evita on Instagram @MalinEvita Alison's book list recommendations: Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890's to Present, by Robin R. Means Coleman Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in Modern Horror Film, Carol J. Glover The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, by Mallory O'Meary 1000 Women in Horror: 1896-2018, by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas House of Psychotic Women: Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films, by Kier-La Janisse This episode was hosted by Malin Evita and Shania Bethune, guest-starring Alison Peirse, and edited by Malin Evita. For more, go to malinevita.com/podcast or contact us at makingitwomeninfilm@gmail.com — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/makingitwomeninfilm/message
  1. #16 | Horror Films and Feminism with Expert Alison Peirse
  2. #15 | Breaking Barriers in the Film Industry with Producer Lyn Sisson-Talbert
  3. #14 | The Revolution of Women in Film is Here with Activist Filmmaker Naomi McDougall Jones
  4. #13 | Creating Your Own Film Company with Ambre Vanneste & Avery Looser
  5. #12 | The Art of Costume Design with Jennifer Starzyk

*This transcript has been mildly edited for clarity and context.

Evita: And welcome, Shamaila Zaman!

Shamaila: I’m forgetting that people can’t see us, but I’m doing this little finger thing [throws up peace sign]!

SHAMAILA ZAMAN

Shania: Haha, well do you want to talk about your introduction into film – or like why you wanted to be in film to begin with?

Shamaila: Well, I wanted to get into the film industry because I felt like there wasn’t much representation of females – especially Asians as well. And because for being a Pakistani girl in the U.K., the main degrees your parents will say to you is like become a doctor, become a lawyer, dentist… anything within the medical field! And so I wanted to put an end to that and be like – look, I’m gonna do something different.

JAMEELA JAMIL

It was like a huge struggle to get approval for that, but I fought my way and applied for SAE, and that’s kind of when, you know, things got more serious for me in the film industry. And also with my OCD as well, it was kind of a coping mechanism. Like with a camera – even with photography – I would just go take pictures and I would go make videos, so it was kind of a coping mechanism in a way.

Shania: Because you were in control of the camera, is that what you mean?

Shamaila: ‘Cause I’m not good with my emotions, so I just kind of felt like expressing myself through a camera would be easier. 

Shania: Mhm, and what about college? Did you go to college?

Shamaila: Yeah, I had done photography at college.

UNSPLASH / SHAREGRID

Evita: So cinematography, is that…

Shamaila: Yeah, cinematography, and I’ve also recently got interested in a line producer job… We did a few lectures on it at uni, and I found it quite interesting. Because I do like the business aspect of the film industry as well. But my main goal is as a cinematographer.

Shania: Definitely agree with the business thing. You are so business-focused, you know a lot about that stuff.

Shamaila: I wouldn’t say that I know a lot, I think I’ve just been influenced by my older siblings because they work within the business industry. So, I feel like I’ve just been influenced by them.

Shania: When we do a uni project, you know the ins and outs of the business stuff, and all of us are like ummm… Shamaila, tell us –

Shamaila: Forget Google! Just come to me!

Shania: No, exactly!

Evita: Do you have like a moment where you realised that this was what you wanted to do? That kind of confirmed that you wanted to go to film school?

Shamaila: I don’t really have much of a moment, I just kind of realised from like the beginning. You know in high school where you have to choose the subjects of what you want to do? Mine were all creative subjects and that’s what I focused on. My parents – my dad knew that I was going to do something in the creative field, wasn’t too happy about it, but my dad is a softie so he let me.

And I was like, yeah – I might not make it to Hollywood, but maybe Bollywood?

Evita: What do your parents think of it now?

Shamaila: I think they’ve realised that there are opportunities out there. Obviously, in this day and age, there’s a lot of demand for things like this [cinematographers, crew, etc.]. ‘Cause, obviously, there’s quite a lot of productions now and I have had quite a few jobs come up – like freelance jobs whilst I’ve moved here to Glasgow, whilst studying.

So that kind of gave them an open-mind, like oh she’s already getting opportunities and she’s not even seeking these opportunities, they are coming to her. So yeah, I feel like they are more open-minded about it.

Shania: When you were younger, did you feel represented? Because I remember when I was younger, I would watch movies and that, and there was a lot of women-roles, but when you get older you realise that them roles were actually completely flat and dull.

Shamaila: In certain movies… I think they always portray the women as a housewife, they don’t really show that kind of equality. Maybe only recently they’ve started to kind of portray that, but growing up I never really saw that as much.

FOUR LIONS

And for me personally, for Muslims and Asians and their representation in film… I kind of struggle to see that. Because for example, Four Lions – Riz Ahmed, that film… Obviously when I watched that for the first time I was like… but Muslims don’t blow themselves up! I was like, that’s a lie! So I got so confused and I spoke with my mom and was like – why are these guys blowing themselves up and shouting Allahu Akbar? Why do they say it while they blow themselves up? That’s not what Muslims do.

Shania: It’s crazy because [where] I grew up, everyone in my school was white – in my primary school and in my academy. And I had no…

Shamaila: No diverse, no diversity.

Shania: At all, and my only experience with that was films.

Shamaila: Like you didn’t really know much other than what they were showing you. You only say what they were showing you and you didn’t see anything for yourself.

Shania: I didn’t know anything! And I remember watching a 9/11 film, and that’s it. That’s all I knew until I did my own research.

MY NAME IS KHAN

Shamaila: There’s one Bollywood film called My Name is Khan, and they kind of talk about 9/11 and that and shows how Muslims got treated after 9/11. The boy – I don’t want to give any spoilers, but a young kid, unfortunately, gets attacked and passes away due to people thinking he was Muslim, but he actually wasn’t. It was his step-dad who was Muslim, but just because he was associated with him and “looked” like he was Muslim because obviously people think Muslims are like Asian, or if you’ve got tan skin… So yeah, he was portrayed that way and unfortunately his life was taken away, it’s a shame.

And there’s another Bollywood movie called Kurbaan, about terrorism. It’s basically a group of Muslims and a guy that kind of lures this girl in so he can get a visa or something. And she gets trapped within it and he tries to do this terrorist attack but the girl tries to stop him. I’m just like, you’re showing Muslims in the wrong way! And what really annoys me is that the main actor, he is supposed to be Muslim. Like, he is actually supposed to be a Muslim in real life. So like, why did you agree to do that role? When you know that you are being portrayed in the wrong way?

KURBAAN

Shania: Exactly. So do you think, when you are working in the film industry, that you will be careful on what films you work on?

Shamaila: I feel like I’m going to have to tip-toe. Especially being a female and a Muslim, I feel like I’m going to have to tip-toe my way around the industry. I don’t want to do anything wrong and then people will point fingers and be like it’s because of this that you can’t do that.

Evita: And then they will judge every other Muslim woman for your actions. Like you are on a pedestal.

Shamaila: Exactly. So I feel like I’m going to have to set a standard in a way. ‘Cause there are young girls out there who might wanna get into the industry, and I feel like they don’t really have anyone to look for advice and how they got in. They’re gonna think, oh I’m going to struggle, I’m not going to make it. They are going to think that it is only for a man – a white male. That’s all they’re gonna think it is.

Shania: It is so interesting, because a white man would never have that point of view and how you need to tip-toe around the industry, ‘cause the industry is run by white men. So they will probably think it’s a lot easier than you – or we – think.

Evita: And just the idea of my actions are going to reflect on my community. That is such a huge responsibility that no one should have. But unfortunately, it is like that.

Shamaila: It could even lead to – say for example that I was working on a film that was quite biased against my people, maybe back home, if people saw that and saw that I was part of that project, they could be like ‘you’re banned from the country!’ or something. ‘Cause that has happened! For example with Mia Khalifa.

Obviously, I’m not within that adult industry, but it could lead to that. She had done something to dishonour her people, and my people might think I’m doing something to dishonour them when I’m really not.

Shania: I think, growing up, I didn’t know any female film directors. But I also don’t think that stopped me from wanting to be a film director. I think it made me want to be one more.

CELINE SCIAMMA AND ADELE HAENEL ON SET OF PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

Evita: The thing is, the behind the scenes are very much invisible when you’re a kid. You don’t hear a lot about directors, it’s mostly just what is on the screen. So it probably wasn’t until… I remember in like 2013 or something like that, Emma Watson tweeted out that only 6% of Hollywood directors were women. In a weird way it almost empowered me to be like ‘oh, I can actually! It’s 6%, not 0!’

Shamaila: Yeah, there’s still an opportunity, still a space to develop that percentage and make it higher. But growing up – before I even knew what was going on in the industry – I always thought that it would be quite diverse, but when I looked into it, I was like ‘okay, this really isn’t diverse,’. It’s mainly males, it’s just not diverse at all.

Evita: When you have women, it’s white women as well. And mostly straight women.

Shamaila: There’s really no diversity, and I feel like that really should be changed.

Shania: Because me and [Evita] went to an event…

Evita: Yeah, we went to this short film – not a festival, but like a small event.

UNSPLASH / JAKE HILLS

Shania: Which is well known in Glasgow, I would say, and I expected it to be diverse, and then [we] went, and it was all white men.

Evita: Yeah, I think like one of the shorts were directed by a woman, but that was it.

Shania: We were supposed to mingle and get to know people, but I truly felt uncomfortable! It was all middle-aged white men.

Evita: I do just remember, that evening, feeling quite isolated, not talked to and it didn’t feel like people were that interested in hearing what I had to say. But that is probably, unfortunately, very common.

Shania: Saying that though, I did do a filmmaking course in London in like 2018, and that was so diverse! Different religions, different everything. That opened my eyes, and that was also my first look into the industry so I thought it was going to be like that. So when we went to that event in Glasgow, that was a shock to me. ‘Cause I thought it was at least somewhat inclusive, and that actually shocked me.

UNSPLASH / CHRISTINA @WOCINTECH.COM

Evita: You hear a lot of people being like ‘forced diversity!!’, what do you think about that?

Shamaila: Like forced diversity? ‘Cause obviously there’s this whole ‘agenda’ of equality and this whole diverse act in workplaces now, it kind of feels forced. Like you should want to make your industry diverse in itself. These people can bring so much to the table. They’ve got different experiences, different backgrounds, different stories to tell. I feel like they should be more inclusive, not like ‘oh I have to or I’m going to be frowned upon,’. I think they should just feel like they want to, instead of having to.

Evita: Who would you say is like your favourite female character? Or maybe portrayal is a better word, ‘cause we were talking about films and [how it can be] a bit difficult if it’s not franchised to get a deep character, but is there like a female character that you would look up to?

Shamaila: Hmm… a female character that I would look up to…

Shania: In film or TV, I know that you’re into TV.

Shamaila: I really can’t think right now! There are so many to go through and think about!

I don’t know if you guys have seen this series on Netflix called ‘The Sinner’ –

Evita: Yes, yes!

[SPOILER ALERT FOR THE 1ST SEASON OF THE SINNER, IF YOU WANT TO AVOID JUMP PAST THE NEXT TWO PICTURES]

NETFLIX / THE SINNER

Shamaila: You know the first season, Cora? I was like, okay… because her character is kind of intriguing and the way they showed her story… I was very confused at the start – I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but the way her sister kind of powered over her, and then her actions after that and what she had done and then forgotten why she had done those actions. And how she then got free of a prison-sentence, and I was like ‘whoa, that’s crazy!’.

She may look weak and they showed her as a vulnerable character, but internally she’s quite strong and has dealt with all that. Even though she forgot some of it because of what happened, she is still so strong and held it together. Very strong in that sense.

Evita: Very strong, yes. So complex in that way. Jessica Biel, I think is the actress, I mean she is just powerful in that. You can feel it, feel everything.

NETFLIX / THE SINNER

Shania: So, before we wrap up, do you guys have any recommendations to our listeners or anything that you have been watching over lockdown?

Shamaila: Definitely The Sinner, would 100% recommend that. I’ve been watching quite a lot of Bollywood recently, like old school Bollywood because I miss home and being with my parents. So I’ve been watching Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham which is a Bollywood O.G.! And then I watched this new one, Malang, and that’s actually pretty good.

I’ve been watching quite a lot of series if I’m being honest, I’ve been watching the Originals actually! 

CW / THE ORIGINALS

Evita: Oh my God, really?

Shamaila: Yeah, I just wanted to connect with my teen side again, and I used to watch The Vampire Diaries and was like ‘you know what? You gotta go back and watch The Originals,’.

Shania: Wait, where you team Stefan or team Damon?

Shamaila: Stefan, all the way!

Shania: Same!

Shamaila: What about you guys, what have you been watching?

Evita: Well, I think I binged through The Sinner, like all three seasons – season three is just out – in like three days. It was bad, but it was SO GOOD. I also just started watching this new sitcom; Kim’s Convenience. Don’t know if any of you have heard of it, but it is about this Korean-Canadian family that runs a convenience store and it’s hilarious. So funny and with great characters – been binging that lately.

Movies… oh my God, have you guys seen the Eurovision movie?

Shania: Nooo, I don’t want to either.

Evita: It is the reason Americans are not in Eurovision!

Shania: I wanted to watch it because it looked kinda shit, and those can sometimes be funny…

Evita: It’s depressing that that was the only Eurovision we got this year… But yeah, wouldn’t recommend it, but I have watched it.

NETFLIX / EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF THE FIRE SAGA

Shania: Normally I only watch films. I never watch TV.

Evita: Really?

Shania: Never, ever. Like hardly ever.

Evita: That’s a rare thing! I don’t think I know any people – well, obviously I do know – who are not into TV.

Shania: I was never into Netflix. I only had it for the films, even though the film selection on Netflix is not that great anyway. So definitely in lockdown, I have been watching more series. I have had Modern Family on repeat – I think I’ve watched all the seasons like three times now. Not on purpose either, just on in the background. But I’ve watched 13 Reasons Why like twice…

Evita: Oh my God, I could not even watch it once!

NETFLIX / 13 REASONS WHY

Shania: What – why?!

Evita: Well, I watched the first season when it came out and was like ‘ohhh… hmm… that is interesting,’.

Shania: Did you not like it?

Evita: I didn’t like it. When I thought about it, Hannah – Hannah Baker – her only personality[trait] was being depressed. Like there wasn’t really anything else to it.

Shania: I know what you mean… 

Evita: And there was a lot of controversy about it – I tried to watch the second season but I thought it was so gruesome from the clips I had seen of the rape scenes… It was just – I’m not gonna watch that.

Shania: See I didn’t like the first season. Watched it when it came out. I saw that the new season came out over lockdown and I was like ‘ah, I’ll watch it,’ and I was obsessed. Justin Foley is my number one! 

Evita: I think, not gonna lie, that you are the only person I’ve heard say good things about 13 Reasons Why.

Shania: Really? I love it!

Shamaila: I found it okay, but I just really couldn’t get into it. I watched two episodes and was like ‘hmm, not my cup of tea,’.

Shania: I’m kind of embarrassed now, ‘cause I’m obsessed with it.

Evita: Don’t be embarrassed!

Shamaila: Each to their own!

Evita: Yeah, each to their own, exactly.

Shania: Well, I think it’s important because I remember, Hannah Baker’s character, her ass gets squeezed and then I remember all my friends being like ‘that’s normal,’ and I’m like ‘well, it’s not and that is the point of the series! It’s not normal!’ So I think it’s important, and I fucking love it.

Evita: I am glad that it resonated with you. At the end of the day, even if I don’t like something I’m happy that somebody else got something out of it.

NETFLIX / 13 REASONS WHY

Evita: Well, it has been great talking with you [Shamaila]! Is there anything you want to plug, where can the people find you?

Shamaila: I’ve got an Instagram account – have had it for years – it’s called ZamanCaptures, but I don’t really upload there anymore because I just do my work through my actual Instagram account.

Evita: That’s fair enough!

Shania: We’re going to take a short break, and then we will return with our next guest: Sinead McCool.

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Sinead: So, my name is Sinead McCool, I am a film student at SAE Institute, and I got into film… God, probably when I was about 8 years old. I remember seeing a group of kids filming with this old VHS camera around the neighbourhood. And I remember seeing them and asking them ‘oh, what are you guys doing?’ and they let me be a part of their film. I have no idea what they did with the footage, if it was for school or whatnot, but I remember seeing that and being like ‘oh, wait. So it’s not just Americans that can make films!’

I’ve always been interested in also watching the behind the scenes of films. Like I would watch the behind the scenes before I would even watch the films themselves. That’s always been an interest to me, so I think that is what started my journey.

Shania: Yeah, I feel like when you watch people make films it seems a lot more glamorous than it actually is, and then when you get into it you’re like ‘oh, this… this is not what I expected at all,’

Sinead: Definitely. Like even when you join film school, it is totally different to how you would make films on your own with your friends, like this is professional and you have to act like an adult.

Shania: How come you decided to go to uni? ‘Cause there are so many different paths into the film industry.

Sinead: Oh, well, I mean uni wasn’t in my plans at all. When I was in high school, I was the ‘bad kid’ I guess you could say. So when it came time for 6th year, all the teachers were like ‘oh here’s uni! Here’s this uni! Here’s information about this uni’ and ‘what do you wanna do with your life? What are you going to do?’ And it was all too much. I knew that I wanted to do film, but I didn’t know how I was going to get to that point. And being from a big town called Livingston, you know, there was not much representation of working in film.

UNSPLASH / KAL VISUALS

So I had no idea that you could go to school to study film. I think one of my teachers did some research and found Edinburgh Napier and all that. I went to their open day, and was like… this is very out of my comfort zone, like I’m not a student. I’m not good at learning and all that. And I ended up stumbling across SAE. It didn’t seem like a university, it seemed like a production company where everyone had each other’s back. It wasn’t lectures and students, it was more ‘hey, I have equipment and two hands. Let me help you make this.’ And that appealed to me a lot.

I had no idea that I would be where I am today in 6th year, but I’m glad that I took that leap.

Shania: I’m the same; I was planning to take a gap year, and I saved up so much money and then all of my friends were going off to uni. I was like ‘fuck, I wanna go to uni now,’ so I applied and yeah, well I came late! First they said no; it was full. And I was like ‘look at my C.V.! I’m getting in!’ Eventually they took me in, I still don’t think they want me there but I don’t care. 

Sinead: I remember when you showed up and I was like ‘oh my God, finally another woman is part of the team!’ it was so nice.

Shania: Yes! That’s so interesting that you say that, ‘cause I remember you like out of everyone there were super friendly to me, like out of everyone there.

Sinead: As soon as I saw another woman join I was like ‘yes, okay!’

Shania: Whenever I’m in a situation to do with film I’m like ‘fuck, thank youuu!’ 

Evita: Yeah, it’s just like an instant… what would you call it?

Shania: Relief?

Evita: Relief, just a bit of safety… There’s just a connection.

Shania: Definitely. I definitely feel more comfortable around women than men, I don’t know if that’s bad to say.

Sinead: That’s understandable. It’s like a familiar face that you have never seen before, but you know that you are both in the same boat, and I think that is always reassuring. Like you could have no idea who this woman is, but as soon as you see her, you’re like *sigh* ‘one of me!’

Shania: I know you did work with Sedona’s production company [Odd Socks Films], did you not?

Sinead: Yeah! So, God… what have I worked on with her? I think the first thing I worked on, can’t remember if it was a music video, but Sedona had contacted me about doing some behind the scene unit production photography for Hannah Slavin’s music video. And I jumped on that, I was like ‘yes! 100%!’

HANNAH SLAVIN / I DON’T GIVE A F*** ABOUT YOU

That was the first professional shoot that I had been on, and when I showed up it was all women. And for your first job to be filled with women, especially in film, that is like a rare, rare, rare thing to happen. So when I showed up I was like ‘oh my God! Look at all these women!’ You had your woman director, you had your woman DOP, you had your women talent… Stephanie’s obviously a woman, and I was just like ‘oh my God! There’s women everywhere!’ 

I think that was a really cool introduction to, one, Music video production, but also being part of making something that would go out and people would see and know that a lot of women had worked on. I think that’s pretty cool.

Shania: Yeah, I definitely agree. We were speaking the other day [on the recording of part 1] about how our introduction to film was at an event, and we stepped in the room and I was expecting it to be diverse, but it was all men. So it is interesting that you say that you’re kind of like the first insight into the industry was all women. That’s quite a unique experience to have, I would say.

Sinead: So what have you, both of you, worked on so far?

Evita: Well, personally I’m mostly into writing and stuff, and I’ve been writing some short films and that. Right now, I’m focusing mostly on film critiquing, so that’s something I’ve been doing in lockdown – even though there’s not a lot of [new] films to critique right now! It’s been something that I have been able to do, you know, can’t really go out and shoot right now.

Shania: I think that is really important though, because I’m really bad at film analysis. And I know that obviously to be a film critic, you need to be good at [analysing]. So I think that’s a really good thing to do.

Evita: Well, it’s just something [where] for me at least, when I kind of realised that I wanted to make films, and when I then started studying and started taking courses, stuff like that, suddenly when I [now] watch a movie, I can’t watch a movie the same anymore! And it kind of sucks in the way where I am analysing the shots and nitpicking, like ‘oh there’s so many lights on in the background! It’s so distracting,’ and things I [before] wouldn’t normally think of. But now that I do… I find it to be a creative outlet to then write about it and just get it out there.

Shania: In the last couple of months, I haven’t done that much. Because me and [Sinead] were all ready to shoot our films and then lockdown happened. That was so frustrating! I was so excited, I had worked so hard on my pre-production, and then Covid happened and I had to go back home! 

Sinead: Mhm, I think the projects we were working on, we were all really passionate about. And the films that we wrote – apart from Harry’s, Harry’s was a bit scandalous – you could feel how proud we all were for our scripts and the producer project stuff. We were all really into it, and then of course a switch flicked and now we’re doing everything from home… hopefully we can all go out and [shoot] those scripts when this is all over. I read quite a lot of people’s and they were really, really good.

Evita: Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what it’s even going to look like to shoot now, and on set – being on set, social distancing, masks, the actors and how they are going to feel comfortable with all of it.

Shania: Mhm, I think lockdown has actually been good – obviously it’s an awful situation – but I think it has done a lot of good. I’ve had so many ideas for so long, but I’ve been too scared to do them because of what other people would think, but when you have so much time to reflect, it has been months and now I’m like ‘I don’t care about that stuff. I’m just gonna make the stuff that I want to make,’ kind of thing.

UNSPLASH / NICK BOLTON

Sinead: Definitely. ‘Cause being stuck at home you realise that – and it sounds cliché but most clichés are clichés because they are true – life is short. And when you have something as big as a pandemic, you realise like ‘oh, I shouldn’t wait and put off projects and events,’ just really put yourself out there. I know for sure that once this is all over, I’m gonna start shaking everybody’s hands, maybe not actually shaking their hands, but you know meeting new people and saying ‘hey, here’s my skills, what can I do? Can I watch, can I observe?’ Just really get experienced and meet people, because life is short. And this pandemic… I am bored out of my face! I’m ready for some production!

Shania: Exactly. You’ve definitely been keeping yourself busy, though! I’m seeing your Instagram stories!

Sinead: Oh yeah, I’m learning how to edit currently.

Shania: What path do you want to go on after uni? Like what kind of job are you looking for?

Sinead: Well, during uni I want to learn at least the basics of every outlet in the industry, just in case. Obviously, we are students so we have to do a majority of the jobs on set, so I think taking that into a professional setting – not that you are going to work with Steven Spielberg once this is over, but say you were on a set and he needed XYZ done, but they were all sick. You have the ability to step up and say ‘hey, I’m free for five minutes, I can help you out with this,’. That let’s people know like ‘oh, this person knows what they are doing and they are open to learning and helping out,’ – I think that’s really important.

UNSPLASH / JACOB OWENS

I don’t know the specifics of what I want to go into. I have a passion for editing and cinematography, but you know, I’m open to doing whatever comes my way.

Shania: Definitely. And I think – well, as we all know, women’s representation in the industry isn’t great. What’s your opinions on that?

Sinead: Oh, well as someone who – again, my first production was all women. And then just before lockdown happened, I was working on a film shoot as an extra – you know, not actually on the production team – with Adura Onashile, I believe that’s how you say her last name. But she’s a director who wrote and, obviously was directing, this film called Expensive Shit – I don’t know if I can say that on this podcast, but the film is called Expensive Shit. It’s about two wee mirrors who were found in a nightclub in Glasgow.

ADURA ONASHILE / EXPENSIVE SHIT

Showing up on set, obviously I wasn’t doing production stuff – I was just an extra, so that was like my first time being an actor on something. And being on that set – I think it was a film for the BBC, or something – the majority of that crew was women as well. So I have been very lucky to be around – I hate to use the term ‘powerful women’ because you know when people say ‘strong female character’… the word ‘strong’, it seems odd to me to describe complex female characters like that. ‘Cause you know if you said ‘strong male character’ you would think of an action film or muscles and stuff like that.

So, I don’t know, like… I love that people are now writing more complex female characters and allowing – I hate the word ‘allowing as well, but, bringing women to direct and produce and be the head of departments, I think that is so important and amazing. Because growing up – me and you guys, we are pretty young so we grew up with films and women as leads and males as leads. But for me growing up, I remember it being males most of the time. And I’m a tomboy and I’ve always been quite boisterous and stuff like that, but if I grew up with female leads in films, I for sure would have appreciated it more and grown up with more understanding of women outside of my life.

So you know, you grow up and you have your mother figures and your female friends, but I think when filmmakers bring in complex female characters into films, you really get to see different cultures, different stories, different women from what you already know and I think that’s really important.

Say, Adura Onashile – watching her on set, directing people, having a go at the camera and stuff… I was watching that and I was like ‘oh my God, like that is amazing!’ And again, I hate using the word ‘powerful’ but that’s what it felt like. It felt like I was seeing something that I probably wouldn’t have seen had I – like I probably wouldn’t have felt it had it been a male director.

But seeing a woman, and a woman of colour as well, directing and being such a badass on set… I don’t know, it made me feel like ‘oh, I can do that! I can be in her shoes!’

I rambled quite a bit, but yeah, I think it’s important.

Evita: I think that’s what should be embraced more than anything.

Shania: When you mentioned [about how] you were younger and the lack representation of females in film, it’s different for me though. ‘Cause I remember, well I don’t remember specifics, but I remember watching women in film and being like ‘oh my God, I wanna be in films!’ 

So, I don’t know what specific characters that were – it could have been Bratz or Barbies, but even then I’m like ‘I wanna be them!’ So I definitely think that representation is a must going forward in my career, and probably yours as well.

People might disagree with me, but if I’m casting for a film I’m going to be looking for ethnic minorities, women, people who need more representation… I wanna make a change through film, and that’s how I want to do it.

Sinead: Yeah 100%. When looking for films I always look for something that I don’t know; different cultures and things like that. Because growing up in a small or big town, wherever the majority of Scottish people grew up, chances are that there isn’t much diversity around. And you can’t exactly go on a plane at that age and go experience or befriend other cultures, so that is why we as filmmakers have to depict and represent truth in our characters. Everything from gender, culture, colour, and so on. ‘Cause we are able to bring that to people’s homes and show younger generations – even older generations – we are able to show them and help them learn and understand things that they may have never seen before. We have that responsibility.

I think that’s why it is so important to let people of minorities be able to write and direct because they are the ones that can truly tell their stories and help us understand.

The entertainment industry in general is – listen, I love teachers, they are great, but films and entertainment, that’s where we learn most things. From mimicking and being inspired by these characters… Yeah.

Evita: Yeah, it is so vital. It is so influential; it’s the way we see the world! And so diversity in that is vital.

Shania: In the other episodes, we’ve asked people to give suggestions for films or TV that you’ve watched during lockdown; have you been watching anything recently?

Sinead: I just finished – well, the season finale is tonight, but I have been watching Snowpiercer, it’s on Netflix.

Shania: Ohh, yeah, I’ve heard about that. Is that the same director as the film?

Sinead: I’m not too sure actually.

Evita: I don’t think so, but it’s Bong Joon-ho who directed the movie, is it?

Sinead: Yeah. It’s a great show, and I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a badass female character and when I was watching I was like ‘ah, yeah this is good representation of women!’

I’m trying to think of other things that I have watched… I mean besides from like rewatching Mrs. Doubtfire about twenty times, yeah I don’t know! 

Shania: I watched Patch Adams yesterday.

Sinead: Oh, Patch Adams is brilliant!

Shania: I knew you’d like that! 

Sinead: Any Robin Williams’ films, I recommend! Like any and all Robin Williams’ films.

UNIVERSAL PICTURES / PATCH ADAMS

Shania: I showed my friend that film for the first time and he was like ‘oh, no, it won’t be good,’ – at the end he was in tears! He couldn’t keep it in!

Sinead: Always a tear-jerker.

Shania: I so agree. I know you’re obsessed; I so agree that he is one of the best, hands down.

Sinead: Every time I watch one of his films, something always relates to my life in that moment; even if I’ve watched the film a thousand times over, there’s always a new thing I realise, like ‘oh that kind of relates to what I’m going through right now,’ and yeah. Love him. He’s great.

Shania: Do you [Evita] have any suggestions for films?

Evita: Oh, I just started watching ‘I May Destroy You’ on BBC. So it’s Michaela Coel –

Shania: Ohh, okay, yeah! Is that on Netflix?

BBC / I MAY DESTROY YOU

Evita: Eh, no, it’s BBC and HBO. But yeah, she is the writer and the lead actress of it. It’s got like 96% [RT] all of that, just came out. 

Shania: Yeah, she’s super talented. I’ve seen her in a lot of things.

Evita: Would totally recommend that for anyone who’s looking for something new. Yeah [Coel] was in Black Mirror too…

Shania: Yeah, I haven’t been watching anything interesting, so I don’t have any suggestions. I’ve been watching Masterchef. It’s ‘cause my friend’s boss was in it, so we’ve been trying to find him.

Evita: Well, it has been really great talking with you [Sinead], is there anything you want to plug – any places where people can find you?

Sinead: I mean first off, thank you for having me; it’s been very interesting. First interview-thing I’ve done, and it has been great! You can find me on Instagram @living_on_the_internet . Things to plug… wear a mask, support Black Lives Matter, find resources and educate yourself on what is going on right now – it’s important. Watch films with people of minorities in them; learn stories, share stories. That’s that.