Sofia Olins – Film Director, Mum And The Challenges For Women In Film
Sofia Olins, film director talks to Asian Mums Network about the challenges of balancing a career in filmmaking and motherhood.
London-based Sofia Olins is an award-winning director who has worked on several big budget feature films and television including the IT Crowd, Peep Show and Bridget Jones. Though with a five-year-old boy and expecting her second child soon, she’s had to juggle motherhood, pregnancy, and filmmaking and it hasn’t been easy.
“Making a feature film is like having a child,” says Sofia, “it’s totally unpredictable, needs constant nurturing and has to be your number one priority.” She informs Asian Mums Network about a report that highlights only 14% of women working in film have children. “Filmmaking is a risky business at the best of times, so with the added pressures of motherhood, it can be near impossible.“
In 2004, Sofia began filming a feature documentary about Glastonbury Festival. The festival had had a profound effect on her. She wanted to know more about the people involved in such an inspiring and hedonistic event. So, just a few weeks later, she found herself camera in hand, dressed in her Wellington boots and surrounded by music lovers, famous artists, and mud.
For four years Sofia visited Glastonbury. Essentially giving up her job as an assistant director to complete the film. When ready for her final shoot and armed with her five-camera crew, issues came to head with the two main protagonists of the film. The ending she’d waited for was lost. Needing some space and distance from the project, she went on to do a Masters at Goldsmiths. When her studies finished, Sofia was pregnant with her first child and left London with her husband to live in Newcastle.
Now back in London, Sofia was delighted to be accepted onto the Women in Film and TV (WFTV) mentoring course. The scheme is for women who have worked for more than five years in TV, film or digital production. Her mentor was surprised to see she hadn’t completed her film on Glastonbury. With the scheme, she finally found the confidence to rekindle her beloved project. With new material and footage, Lost In The Festival is currently in its final stages of completion. She recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £16,000 needed for post-production. It’s already had a great response; she’s raised over 30% of their total and Kickstarter have named it a project they love.
Asian Mums Network wanted to know more about Sofia Olins, so we asked some further questions.
Q1. AMN: What is your biggest challenge as a mother and a filmmaker?
SO: Isolation, it’s very important to try and get out and be with other professionals to keep your network strong. Ideally, they are working mums too so then you can support each other.
Q2. AMN: What can women and more diversity bring to the world of TV, cinema and documentary filmmaking?
SO: Fresh voices. The dominant narrative has been single white males for far too long. One of the festivals my film was in last year still had 8 out of 12 films with the lead character being a young white male. We need to reflect the experiences and stories of contemporary Britain.
Q3. AMN: Why would you recommend WFTV to other women artists?
SO: It’s very film specific, but if you work in a discipline in the industry, I would say it’s the single most meaningful thing you could ever do for your career.
Q4. AMN: What do you think about the representation of BME women in the world of filmmaking in the UK?
SO: Pretty dire. It’s trying to get better but has a long way to go. The Geena Davis Institute has some pretty startling stats.
Q5. AMN: What are you plans for your next project?
SO: I’m making a film about being 40, where I interview 80 years olds and ask them what shouldn’t I miss?
Women in Film and TV aim to attract women from a diverse background, “Over six months, selected participants receive six hours of mentoring contact with an experienced industry figure, combined with an intensive programme of seminars, training workshops, and networking opportunities.”
If you are a woman in film, TV or digital production, more information about the scheme can be found at http://www.wftv.org.uk/mentoring-scheme.
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