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Performers often feel they have to wait to tell the stories they are passionate about. But in today’s podcast episode, we chat to Matthew Jacobs Morgan and Laura Kirwan-Ashman, both of whom have got stuck in and made their own film work with great results. Both have undertaken projects themselves, telling stories they are passionate about telling. 

Here is our discussion about all things filmmaking, including how to get started, where to get funded, finding the right people and mentorship opportunities. 

32 minute listen or read the full transcript below.

All episodes of the Spotlight Podcast.

Christina Carè: Hello and welcome to The Spotlight Podcast. My name is Christina Carè, I’m the content manager at Spotlight. And today, we’re talking with two very talented up-and-coming filmmaker performers, Matthew Jacobs Morgan, and Laura Kirwan-Ashman. And our topic for today is filmmaking, and how that intersects with performance. If Matthew’s name sounds familiar to you, it might be because he’s written for us before. So, you can read a lot more from him on our website, under news and advice.

So, Laura, Matthew, thank you so much for giving up your time to talk to me at Spotlight today. I was thinking a nice place to start would be to ask you why you wanted to make film work. Was there something… And indeed you’re both performers. So, I wonder…

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Oh, I wouldn’t go that far.

Christina Carè: You’ve done some performing and some directing. It has happened.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Out of pure necessity.

Christina Carè: I wonder if there was a moment where you were like, “Yep, this is the industry for me.”

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: For me, I guess it was… When I was, sort of, starting out there weren’t many roles for people like me, for young black men who don’t fit into the stereotype which a lot of art actually perpetuates. And so, I decided that I wanted to start writing stuff for myself to build a showreel and then I found that I really, really enjoyed it. So, that’s why I carried on and it snowballed since then. And I’ve just… Yeah. Loved it.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. Kind of similar to you, Matthew. So, I studied theatre at uni, which was… I loved it, and it was a great course, and it kind of turned me onto a lot of stuff that’s really shaped me, but I got to the end of the three years and was like, “Theatre is not for me.” Since spent four years wallowing in the mire of retail, quarter-life crisis.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: All been there.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: And then I was doing a thing called the Barbican Young Film Programmers. And I met someone called Aya there, and it was around the time that a lot of conversations were starting to be had about the straight white male cis domination of the film and television industries, and the lack of really good female characters and female stories, and who were getting to tell those stories. So we, and another friend called Charlotte, we decided to film a female film collective and just start making our own stuff because we weren’t seeing it.

There was some stuff coming out of the U.S., like Girls and Broad City, but nothing really in the UK that we felt really spoke to us as fumbling 20-something women in London, trying to figure it all out. So yeah, we made a completely zero budget DIY web series, which I wrote, and we all ended up being in it because we couldn’t afford to pay anyone else to. And the way that my character, kind of evolved, it was basically just a worse version of myself. So, I barely consider it acting, but yeah. So, it came from a very primal urge to do something about the situation, basically.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. Same.

Christina Carè: Matthew, you have said to me before, you didn’t specifically train as a performer.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yes.

Christina Carè: Was there some reason why you then wanted to enter filmmaking? Because that’s an even more technical and difficult thing to embark on. What made that sort of transition happen? Or what was it about doing a film?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah, I think it kind of went hand-in-hand with the fact that I didn’t train, (it) meant that I needed to beef up my CV, beef up my showreel, beef up my experience, and a way for me to get that was by being in projects which I had written for myself. And I don’t know, I guess directing, although there are technical aspects to directing, I feel like you can learn those in an afternoon.

Christina Carè: Really?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Pretty much. I feel like…

Christina Carè: Our bold statement for the day.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: In terms of what you really, really need to know.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. There’s obviously loads of details and things maybe, which take longer, and which you pick up with experience. But in terms of the essentials, there’s not that many, and actually, most of it’s about having something that you want to say, and having a bold way of saying it, and knowing how to communicate that to a crew. And I think that doesn’t necessarily need formal training, personally. And so I’ve always just done it and made mistakes and learned from those mistakes and… Yeah. That’s how I approached it.

Christina Carè: I mean, that was definitely going to be one of the things that I asked you both, is how did you actually learn? Was it just doing it and going for it? And you’ve kind of answered that already. But was it the same for you, Laura?

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah, no, absolutely. Like I said, the web series was my first kind of real experience of making something. And we made it from absolute scratch with no resources, very little time, very little people. It was very much a case of, whoever wasn’t in the scene was holding the camera. We just shot it on just a Canon DSLR. And yeah, Aya… My friend, Aya, who’s in the film collective, she always describes it as a vertical learning curve.

Christina Carè: Right.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Because we were literally making it up as we went along, but what’s so great is that at the time, there was this really blossoming DIY, very female focus scene happening in London, in filmmaking, in collectives and people putting on nights, just, sort of, organising. And we really, kind of, dove headfirst into that. And that was really reassuring to see that so many other people were being like, “I don’t necessarily have a degree. I don’t necessarily have the know-how, but we want to change something. We have something to say, and we’re just going to give it a go.”

What’s been so amazing about the BFI network programme that I’ve just been on is, we’re having these incredible filmmakers, like Steve McQueen, Boots Riley, David Larry come and speak to us and it’s been so reassuring because so many of them have had really unique, not necessarily straightforward, routes into filmmaking.

A lot of them didn’t go to film school, they came from other mediums. And it’s been amazing to hear that you don’t actually need to know all the things that you’re made to feel that you know, especially as a director, the most important relationship is that you have a great relationship with your DP and they can fill in on all the…

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah, especially with the technical stuff, I think. Especially with that stuff.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. And it’s so much more, I’ve had an incredible moment with Steve McQueen where I opened up and was very frank and honest about how insecure and anxious I often feel about my lack of technical experience or whatever you want to call it. And he was just like, “The fact that you’ve just been so honest about that means that I know you’re going to be fine.” He looked into my eyes, spoke into my soul, and said, “You’re going to be fine. You don’t need to know all that stuff that you think you need to know. As long as you’re honest and true, and you have something to say, and your story is coming from the heart, that’s all that matters.” And that was so affirming to hear from someone like that.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah.

Christina Carè: That’s a huge moment.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: I went outside and cried for 10 minutes. I was just like, “Oh my God.”

Christina Carè: I bet. That’s amazing.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: I do think actually, watching films is some of the best training.

Christina Carè: I was going to ask you about that. I mean, is it really… I guess that’s just one of the ways you can learn, right?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Absolutely, yeah. I really do think so. And also, just in terms of going to see films with your friends or being able to discuss it with your friends, and argue about stuff that you liked and stuff that you didn’t like, and figuring out what your voice is and the stuff that, the stories that draw you in. I think that’s some of the best training you can get.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: And also, the stuff that you hate.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah.

Christina Carè: Yeah, absolutely. Why do you hate it? And then…

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. Why didn’t it work for you? I mean, literally, that’s all I do, is watch stuff. I’m just holed up at home, just constantly watching stuff. And it feels a bit moronic sometimes, that you’re just drooling on the sofa. But then…

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: I think there’s a misconception that watching films and TV are a passive act. But actually, I feel like it is quite an active thing. Your mind is… It’s taking your mind to places that it wouldn’t otherwise. And you’re having to constantly think and unpack.

Christina Carè: Yeah, absolutely.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Things which you… Preconceptions that you might’ve had beforehand. So yeah, I do think it is a very good way of exploring your artistry.

Christina Carè: I think other than the technicality of it, the other big barrier to entry is cost. So I wanted to ask you about that, especially you, Laura, because as you just said, it was a very DIY project.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: There were no costs involved, other than, like pizza.

Christina Carè: Yeah. Fair enough. But it’s interesting because that’s definitely one of the barriers I think a lot of people have is, how do I actually get the money to make something that I want to make? Do you guys have any advice that you could give people?

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Well, I mean, I’m literally in the middle of that process right now. I’m very fortunate in that I’ve just been given BFI development funding for my first feature, but as with the story of my life, I’m doing everything backwards. So, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m writing this feature and I’m going to direct it but I have very little directing experience.” And now I feel the pressure to, kind of, make some shorts, and I have shorts that I really want to make, not just to get experience, but because I think they’re important stories to tell. So, me and my producer are in the middle of that process of finding funding.

I would say, if you’re a writer/director, your producer is hands down the most important person. My producer changed my life. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me. And the stuff that we’ve achieved. We only met just before Christmas, and the stuff that we’ve achieved in less than a year is incredible. And having someone who thinks outside of the box, and is so hungry to tell your stories with you, and to champion you, and to constantly be looking for an alternative… Obviously, there’s the main funding places, but thinking outside of that to hunt down the money.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. I think, for your first project, usually, you have to do it on your own. For me, because it’s very difficult to convince funding bodies to give you money if you’ve never made a film or TV, or if… I mean, sometimes they’ll do it if you’ve done theatre or commercials because you’ve got enough experience on that side of things. But I basically just had to, when I was… I think I made my first film when I was 17 or 18, and I did it with £1000 that I’d saved up from working at Waitrose on the weekends, during my A levels, and I saved, and saved, and saved. And that’s how I made my first one.

The second one, I did get some funding for it, but also, it wasn’t quite enough. So, I ended up asking my accountant if he had any clients who would be willing to give any money towards a feature film. Sorry, it was a short film. And got another chunk of money just from rich people. Some rich people who had money to… Not to burn. It wasn’t burned because it went into a short film and supporting-

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: A piece of art.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Supporting young filmmakers and stuff like that. But…

Christina Carè: So, was that Gracie that you’re referring to?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yes. Actually, no, sorry. No. The money from my accountant, that was Mine, my most recent film actually. Gracie, it was funding, which was cobbled together from a scheme called B3 Media, a scheme… or Ideas Tap which… It’s not… It doesn’t…

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: It’s changed into something else, and I can’t remember-

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Has it changed into something? I can’t quite remember, but I got some money from them, and I got some money from an organisation called O2 Think Big. So, I ended up having a slightly bigger budget for that. And then my most recent one was the one where I got some money from my accountant’s clients.

Christina Carè: Just kind of here and there and everywhere you can collect.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: So, my first film that I directed by myself, I made that specifically for a filmmaking competition called, I Want Change, which is basically a smartphone filmmaking competition. And the whole thinking behind why they set up that competition was to democratise the filmmaking process and basically set parameters where you didn’t need loads of money. You didn’t need equipment. You didn’t need fancy cameras. If you had a story to tell, you just needed a smartphone or a tablet or webcam, whatever it was. And the brief was it had to be under 10 minutes and be about a social issue. And that was… You could interpret that any way that you wanted.

So, I shot that on an iPhone 6, I got a bunch of my incredible friends and another friend who’s a photographer, called Steph Wilson, who has this incredible house. And we just shot it in there and everyone donated their time for free. I basically spent about £200 of my own money and that was food and props and taxis and stuff like that. And we shot it all in one day and ended up winning. And so that was really valuable for me, even though my work… That was a sort of stylized documentary, and my work is primarily fiction, but it was a great first taste and a very low stakes taste of directing. So, I just wanted to see if I could pull this thing off. And I did, and luckily, it was quite successful.

Christina Carè: Yeah. It’s really incredible.

I know, Laura, you’ve just hinted that a lot of the time, the casting out aspect of your work has been incidental so far, that it’s people that you know or that kind of thing. But given that you’ve both had some experience of performing and being behind the camera as well, what’s that process like for you now? Has it taught you anything about performing, given that you now actually have cast some characters?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: I’d say so. Absolutely, yeah. Just in terms of the fact that the people behind the casting desk really are just humans. I think the main thing which I noticed when auditioning for my second short because I had some amazing, amazing actors come in. Nerves really, really come across in an audition room, especially when you’re seeing so many people in one day, you can really tell when people are really nervous. And I feel like it’s actually taught me to try, at least, and chill out more, because there’s nothing… It’s really weird when the actor that comes in is chilled out, suddenly it makes you completely chill out, and you’re like, “Oh, everything’s fine.” Because everyone’s stressed, it’s a high-pressure situation making a film, I think. And so, you want someone who’s going to come in and just be chill and just-

Christina Carè: Seem in control.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. And so that when you’re on set, you’re not going to be having to put out too many fires with them. You’ll just be putting out all the other fires there. That’s what I’d say.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. I mean, I don’t actually have experience of casting actors per se. I think empathy is important in every situation. The idea of auditioning is honestly my worst nightmare even though I did a theatre degree. I hated all the improv and drama games and all that, I can’t stand those. So, I’m going to feel so bad about-

Christina Carè: That was the perfect degree for you.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Oh, yeah.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. But no, so, the idea of putting someone through that, I think is… I’m going to have a lot of empathy for how, in the end, these people will be actually trained professionals and people who’ve done it a million times or… But yeah, I think just-

Christina Carè: Yeah. I think that’s the thing, is that often, performers forget that yeah, it is humans, as you said, Matthew. They are human beings as well. And it just feels very high stakes because you really want the job, or you really want to be a part of something. And that can be really hard to step away from.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: But I think it is a two-way street, as well. Coming at directing from an acting background makes me more empathetic to the actors because I’ve been in situations where I’ve been given scripts four hours before the audition, or where the directors in the room give nothing. And you just leave the room feeling like rubbish, even if… Like, there’ve been times when I’ve got roles where, in the room, the director was sort of… Just completely, gave me absolutely nothing. But I don’t know, I just feel like it is just, you want your actors to leave the room feeling good about themselves and actually I’m always so grateful for people for giving up their time to learn my script and to come in and meet me. I’m just like, that’s such a lovely thing to do. So why would I not be lovely, well try and be-

Christina Carè: You are lovely Matthew.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Why would I not be lovely? Why would I not try and be like anything but nice to them.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: I think it should always be… I mean, filmmaking is immensely collaborative. And I think a lot of people forget that because so much emphasis gets put on the stars and the auteur director who just, everything springs out of their genius. And so those people are nothing without everyone else. And I think it has to be an exchange of energy, it’s not so much… Because you’re asking people to be incredibly vulnerable, to give their energy to you. So you have to give your energy to them and make sure that they feel supported and safe, even if it’s just for 10 minutes and you never see each other again. I think ego can very easily get in the way of things and even if you’re a complete beginner, ego is a defence mechanism where you’re like, this is all new for me, but I’m just going to bust my way through and act like I know what I’m doing. And then you make everyone just feel a bit crappy.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. Yeah

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Absolutely, yeah.

Christina Carè: I think then, perhaps could you say that finding the right sort of people might be a good first step for someone who has an idea and who maybe doesn’t have the money or doesn’t have the technical skills, would you advise them then, yeah, go look for the people?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Absolutely. I actually feel like people are more important than money actually.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Oh God, yeah.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Because I’ve got friends who’ve made short films with tens and tens of thousands of pounds, but because they didn’t really have the right team around them just kind of didn’t work out or it wasn’t as good as-

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: It’s usually a miserable experience.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then actually people get a lot more strict with… I mean, obviously you look after your crew and your cast and make sure that you stick to the working hours, but as soon as money’s involved, those stakes are heightened, I think.

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure. There’s pressure.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. If you’re just doing it with friends and you’re like, Oh, we’ll finish whenever we finish, or like, we’ll make sure that we’re out by this time, it’s fine. But if you go 10 minutes over when you’re actually paying people and you’re on a big budget, it can really…

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Change the atmosphere.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah, it really does. From my experience.

Christina Carè: Would you say… I mean, I want to shift directions here for a second and ask you about these various kinds of mentorship programmes that you’ve alluded to so far. You’ve both done quite a few different things with BFI, with Channel 4. I wonder if you could tell us a bit about those experiences, what they offered you and whether or not you’d recommend them to other people.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Absolutely, yeah.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: So I’m primarily a writer in terms of what I’ve done so far. It often feels, in the UK, like most of the industry is looking to theatre for new writing talent, in particular. Whereas I knew from off the bat that I wanted to write for the screen. So it kind of felt like, so I have to go and write a play and take it to Edinburgh and get some buzz just to get on these people’s radars, because it’s very difficult to do anything as a writer, without an agent or representation. So I basically, my route was I went down the DIY thing, I made my own stuff, which impressed a lot of people because you’ve just done it off your own steam. And then I just started entering writing competitions, writing schemes for emerging writers. And I was very lucky in that I got onto them.

And so the first one I did was called, it’s the world’s longest title, Betty Box and Peter Rogers Comedy Writing Programme. And it was the first time they did it with London Comedy Film Festival in association with what was then the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. And now I think it’s the Film and Television Charity and Big Talk were on board as advisors. And that was an incredible experience in terms of giving a very young, green writer with very little industry experience, basically, a dummy run at the development experience. So the charity had provided a bursary so that you could just focus on writing, which was a massive weight off. I suddenly didn’t have to worry about paying my rent and stuff like that. And then they gave you a script editor, so that was incredible to learn how that whole process works and to have someone who actually knows what they’re talking about guiding you through that. And then also the experience of going in for meetings and getting notes and working with development execs. So that was really invaluable. And then by the end of it I had a TV pilot, which then acted as a sample to get representation, and for that representation to then send out and start to get you meetings and stuff like that. And then I did BBC comedy writers’ room using that pilot as a sample that got me onto that. And yeah, and everything has gone from there.

And so yeah, once you have a few things on your CV or in your back pocket, it kind of lets people know that, Oh, you’ve been chosen from hundreds or thousands of entries. You’ve got something. And it basically does an agent’s work for them because they were really looking at theatre, but then there’s this other route that’s coming through and offering up a shortlist of people who they might not have heard of because they haven’t done plays or things like that. So yeah, so I went down that route. And that’s the only way that I know. So I’d recommend if people aren’t into the theatre thing to kind of go down that road.

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Cool. This year I’ve been doing a programme called For Screenwriting, which is a… It’s not really a seminar, I guess, in the sense that Channel 4 commission a script from you and you have two workshop weekends, one at the beginning, and one at the end of the scheme. And in-between for about six months, you work on a pilot script of your choosing and writing a pilot script of your choosing, an idea that you’ve come up with yourself. And you are given a script editor and a shadow script editor. And you’re put in a group of three writers. Overall in the scheme, there’s about 12 writers, but you all section off into groups of three writers and you all support each other and keep in touch with each other and read each other’s scripts and give notes on them and stuff.

And it was just absolutely amazing. And then at the end, they had an industry networking night, I guess, where they had people from maybe 80 or 90 production companies, literally like a ridiculous amount of production companies who came to meet us. They had all read our scripts and they were there to sort of meet us and chat with us and for us to set up meetings, general meetings to get stuff in development with them. And it was just so lovely and off the back of it is I’ve met some really great people, some of whom I’m working with now. And yeah, just in terms of having a group of peers who are going through similar things as you.

Christina Carè: Right. Comes back to that community thing.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah, it really, really does. And it’s just so nice having people that you can call and say, when you’ve got exciting news about something, it’s so lovely. And I’m also on a scheme with the BFI, which is the BFI Flair Mentorship Programme, which is a scheme which has run alongside the BFI Flair Film Festival in, I think it’s March. And throughout the festival you watch loads of films, you have great talks with all these amazing filmmakers. And then for the rest of the year, you have a mentor, who’s your point of contact for while you’re writing your first feature or while you’re developing your first feature.

And I was given an amazing mentor, John Cameron Mitchell, who’s a brilliant writer, director and actor who made a film called Hedwig and the Angry Inch and a film called Shortbus and a film called Rabbit Hole. And he’s the most amazing mentor I could have asked for, and we’ve got very similar tastes in projects and ideas. And so it’s been really, really invaluable and just… And again, peers like the group of…

Christina Carè: Yeah, for sure.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. Especially having a group of peers who are interested in similar things and similar stories and are having relatively similar experiences, I guess, in the industry makes such a huge difference

Christina Carè: Yeah, totally. Mentorship is invaluable, particularly for getting new voices, making art of any description.

Do you have any advice for people who maybe want to go and do those things where they could find out or how they should find out about the best things for them? Or is it just really, you just kind of have to feel your way along and hope that you can pick up some traction.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Do you mean about how to find out about schemes and mentorships?

Christina Carè: Yeah. Yes.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: I mean, I just found out about this stuff because I follow all these people on Twitter. So I follow the BFI. BBC writer’s room has a great opportunities page which tells you not only about BBC stuff but about all the writing competitions, all the schemes. Just sign up to newsletters and then you hear about those things first and you don’t do everything last minute like I do. Because you find out about something, and you’re like, “Oh, the deadline’s in five days.” Which has been a running theme of my life. But yeah, I mean, that’s how I found out about this stuff. It was just through Twitter and social media and emails and stuff.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. Yeah.

Christina Carè: I suppose the thing I was hoping to also get out there is that it’s not essential for anyone to go and do an expensive training programme necessarily. There are a lot of these other schemes around and they don’t necessarily-

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: And they’re free as well.

Christina Carè: Yeah, they’re free and they don’t have any other kind of barrier.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: And some of them pay you.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: I know, yeah. That’s so true, yeah.

Christina Carè: Absolutely, sometimes they pay you.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Rare, but sometimes.

Christina Carè: Sometimes it happens. So yeah, I guess what would you say to people who are kind of thinking, well, I’m not really sure, I don’t really have all the skills that I need. What would you tell them to do just to start on the track towards making their own work?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: I’d say read. Read a lot of scripts and read a lot of books on screenwriting and writing for TV and writing for film and everything. I mean, you can ignore everything that’s in them perhaps, but like-

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. You have to know the rules before you break them.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Exactly, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I’d say do that.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: I did a very short screenwriting foundation course at Central Saint Martins, it was like one evening a week. I was doing that whilst I was full-time working in Selfridges. And that was really, really useful in terms of just giving you that foundational knowledge to then jump off on and also to make sure that it was the right medium for me, because I tried so many. Pretty much every other medium out there, but yeah, it’s a funny one because a lot of people asked me, I get a lot of young people who were thinking that they want to get into screenwriting and don’t really know where to begin because they didn’t necessarily do it at uni or whatever it is, or they can’t afford to go to uni.

And it’s difficult because screenwriting is not like any other medium of writing and you do need to have, it’s a very technical form of writing even just from a formatting point of view or just… It’s not just an existing piece of text it’s also a manual for how to make that film. So you do need to actively study it and learn those rules and learn structure and what’s really important. Especially when it comes to troubleshooting because if you’re a good writer, you can write something great, but if the structure’s off or the characters haven’t been developed enough or the pacing lags here somewhere, then having those kinds of like that technical knowledge of the form helps you kind of deal with those things.

Christina Carè: I’ve watched Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Oh God.

Christina Carè: And I really enjoyed it.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Thank you.

Christina Carè: It was really fab. There was a lot of things to identify with in that particular series.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. And that’s like three years old now, that’s the first thing I ever wrote. And yeah, it was my first little baby.

Christina Carè: Yeah. Very lovely baby. I’ve watched Gracie as well, Matthew. I wondered if you could tell us a little bit more about why you made that film.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. So it’s a film about a young guy whose grandmother from Jamaica has dementia. And she keeps saying that she wants to go home to Jamaica, but they can’t do that because of her illness. And so he sort of sets up a Jamaican beach in her nursing homes garden, and because of her dementia, she feels as if she’s there and it triggers memories for her. And I made that film because it was based on experience. Well, mostly based on experience. My grandmother had suffered from – well, both of my grandparents actually, on that side, suffered from dementia. And that was something that both of them really, really wanted to do.

They moved to London to make a life for themselves and build a family, everything. But it was always their aim to go back home to Jamaica, so that’s something they always said after they got ill, but we were never able to do for them. So it was sort of my way of doing that after the fact because she unfortunately passed away before I made the film, but it was kind of doing it after the fact. So yeah, for me basically. But a lot of people have been able to relate to it, actually, a lot of people who’ve got family members who suffer from dementia could relate.

Christina Carè: Yeah. It was completely beautiful. So I enjoyed it a lot.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Christina Carè: I want to kind of finish by asking you what you are working on right now and what you’d like to be working on next.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. So as I said, I’m just about to go into this development with the BFI on my first feature script and have that whole experience. And then I’ve got a bunch of TV stuff ticking away in the background. Also very much looking forward to getting paid. In many ways, this has been the best and most successful year of my life, but also the most broke I’ve ever been. So be prepared for that, kids! Sometimes it all looks rosy and you’re like, “But I’m still broke on my sofa.” Yeah. Next year it’s all going to come through.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yes. Yes, yes, yes it is.

Christina Carè: Absolutely.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Cool.

Christina Carè: Matthew?

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: And so for me, I’m just about to take my feature film out to get some development funding, hopefully. And so we’re just doing some final tweaks to the treatment and the creative statement and everything, we’re about to take that out. And I’ve got four, five TV projects which I’m developing and I’m going to LA soon to hopefully sell a pilot which I’ve written, fingers crossed.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yass Matthew.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Or to at least have some worthwhile meetings and hopefully get some stuff up and running over there. Because they have so much money in America.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Oh, they have so much money. And so I’m trying to get some American money basically.

Christina Carè: Yeah. A valiant goal.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yeah. And I’m also writing a musical which hopefully will get put on somewhere soon.

Christina Carè: Very nice.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: So next year it’s the black queer world domination tour.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yes.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: By Laura and Matthew.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yes, yes. Yes. 100%. Coming to a city near you.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: We’re doing it, right here.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Yes.

Christina Carè: Awesome. Thank you so much guys. If anyone listening wants to ask you any questions or follow what you’re doing, where can they do that?

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Yeah. Twitter, its @laura_k_a and Instagram is @Laurak_a because I have no imagination apparently.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: And I’m on the Twitter too. I’m @MattJCMorgan.

Christina Carè: Fabulous. Thank you so much guys.

Laura Kirwan-Ashman: Thank you.

Matthew Jacobs Morgan: Thank you.

Christina Carè: I hope you enjoyed today’s discussion. If you have any other questions for us, you can email us questions@spotlight.com or drop us a line on Twitter @spotlightUK.