David (not his real name) worked as a Trainee Director on ‘My (Refugee) Life’. True to the values of Breaking Barriers, five trainees were recruited from the refugee community. Working closely with the Postcard Production team, the trainees brought their lived experience to each stage of production- coordinating the project, researching, directing, filming and editing.
I arrived in the UK in March 2020 with a bachelors degree in accounting. I was able to translate my qualification into a British degree, but I still get questioned about whether I am good enough to be hired because I didn’t qualify here. People are scared off when they hear you have a degree from a different country, so I’m studying again.
Another barrier I face is the language difference. I have to improve my English and become a good English speaker, especially if I want to work in the accountancy sector.
I decided to apply for the trainee opportunity because I have two dreams. Film making is my true passion and becoming a film director is my number one dream. Accountancy is my second dream. I know that the film industry is a difficult industry to work in. Having the chance to be a trainee director is a big chance for me to get some experience on my CV with a very good company.
I finally saw light and I know now that I have better chances of getting a job in something I love.
When I heard I got the job I felt amazing. I felt like a normal human being in the UK. I had a chance to work on something that I am so passionate about. I finally saw light and I know now that I have better chances of getting a job in something I love.
My first day as a trainee was exciting. I just wanted to show everyone involved with the film that I could add a lot to the documentary.
Some challenges I faced in the role included writing a script. I had never written one in my life. I worked all night on it and researched how best to do it. I learned a lot and was very proud of myself in the end. Everyone at Postcard Productions was very supportive and showed us how to do all the tasks. In the end, I was very proud of myself, and I got really good feedback on it too.
I think, because of my own experiences, I brought better ideas to the project regarding what we needed to film and how we could make it better for others.
I would say the most memorable experience throughout this trainee role was talking about refugees. When the refugees were talking about their struggles, it reminded me of when I got my papers and started my own life. I think, because of my own experiences, I brought better ideas to the project regarding what we needed to film and how we could make it better for others.
I struggle with being linked to the word ‘refugee’; it freaks people out. The label is really unhelpful, and the film is trying to remove that label in some way and remind society that we are just humans. People have emigrated since the beginning of the planet for other lands- for safety, for a better life. Coming to a new country isn’t something new so why is it now a nightmare that someone searches for safety to start a new life?
I have learned a lot from this trainee role. I learned how to edit a film, write a script and turn a raw idea into a film. I now have a clear vision for the future. I want to make my own documentary and own my own company. I want to make a film where I can say what I want to say to people. I have thought about an idea for a new film about the challenges and love that people have across the world. Before the trainee role I had no idea how to even start, how to touch people’s emotions or how to express ourselves as refugees from one heart to another, but now I do.
When I first saw the documentary, I wanted to cry. Seeing all of the ideas that I suggested being pictured on screen was an amazing feeling. These feelings made me want to do more. When you see something, when you imagine something, and then you literally see it on the screen with the music it’s like your thoughts have come to life.
If I was going to give any advice to other organisation that is considering trainee positions for refugees I would say, don’t think about people as refugees. Think about us as humans. Don’t think about the label, just give us a chance and we will add value as human beings.