At Screen and Film School Brighton, we love watching our students and graduates working on projects they’re passionate about.
As part of our series on First Semester Documentaries, this week we caught up with First Year BA Hons Film Production student Leah Bierman. Her film, The Rhondda, sees Leah exploring her roots, and the Welsh valley her family are from.
What was the inspiration for your documentary?
My family are from the Rhondda and its always been a place I’ve been fascinated about, the way of life is just so different to mine, having mostly grown up in a busy city. I have wanted to make a film about this place for a while and I really wanted it be positive as the area has many negative stereotypes in the media.
How did you approach the filmmaking process for The Rhondda?
My approach was definitely not a recommended one! Even though it was my family I was trying to interview, they still weren’t comfortable being recorded, I think this has something to do with the negative media attention and not wanting to be laughed at. After spending a week with them and not getting much usable footage, I asked my pops to take me for a drive so I could record the stunning landscape, while filming the view out of the car window.
What was your favourite part of the process?
My favourite part of making this was definitely the drive with my pops. He is a man of few words and to capture this meaningful intergenerational conversation really made the whole film fall together. The most challenging part was when I realised I had been in the Rhondda for a whole week and no one wanted to be recorded; I just had to get creative.
What advice would you give to applicants considering Screen and Film School?
I would tell them to be confident in what you can do. Know that everyone is at different levels of filmmaking in the first year, so be welcoming to new ways of learning others can bring. Also don’t doubt your work too much, keep the faith and it will be good!
What’s next for you in terms of filmmaking?
The future at the moment is uncertain but hopefully I will be able to direct the music video for the band Niff that has been put on hold for the moment. I am excited to start my second year and explore directing further.