Everyone Counts by Michelle Koleszko

I was fortunate enough to be part of the ‘Everyone Counts’ masterclass by Terry Bamber.  This workshop arose out of a British Academy Fellowship, a partnership led by Jason Lee with Jones Bamber Productions to help meet the need for screenwriters in the film and television industry and those with mental ill-health and disabilities, by linking them.

Terry’s opening statement set the tone for the workshop. He reinforced the importance of all roles in the media industry, from the director to the caterer, and spoke of the richness that a diverse range of people can bring. Terry showed incredible keenness to work with writers and create opportunities for those with disabilities and give something back to his industry. 

As a scriptwriter who has struggled to make contacts in the industry due to anxiety, I felt optimistic as Terry spoke about the need for good scripts and the fact that there is more understanding in film production today about people’s issues, with a growing ethos around being kind to the people you work with. 

In the workshop we were introduced to two determined and hardworking creatives: Richie Cave, a visual effects artist and photographer who had overcome some huge life barriers; and Dave Aiken, a short film maker with YouTube videos spanning 14 years. In addition, the questions and comments from the wider participants provided insights into the obstacles that people with disabilities face when trying to get work in film and television. For example, the common job requirement for a full driving license, which eliminates any disabled person who is not able to drive.  

Terry was interested and supportive. He was enthused to help anyone who finds themselves as a disadvantage due to a disability.  There were many other ways presented to us to get involved in this project also, such as a mentoring system and the opportunity to submit a treatment for a short film that stars disabled characters. 

This project is providing the opportunity for individuals to gain work and experience in the industry who may find themselves left out. It is an enlightening and optimistic initiative. Together we can make a difference. 

Watch this space http://evolutionfilm.org/

By Michelle Koleszko

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