"Shoot your first short film" was not on my to-do list back in January this year when I was writing my goals for the year. Yet that is exactly what I was fortunate enough to be able to do eight months on from writing that list.
In June I applied for the Ocean Culture Life storytelling grant, a fund of $3000 to help tell ocean stories that deserve to be heard. I had a number of ideas for stories that I wanted to tell, from whales in Baja to sharks in the Maldives, but after much deliberation I decided on pitching my story "Peixinho" (meaning little fish in Portuguese) for the "Inspire" category of the grant.
As a scientist myself I wanted to try and tell the story of someone that was inspiring ocean conservation through science. I came across the story of Bento Nhamussua from my friend Francesca Trotman (Chess), founder of marine conservation NGO Love The Oceans. She told me about her staff member Bento, and his rapid rise from being unable to swim to being a swimming instructor within just a couple of years. After hearing more about Bento's story and the cases of drownings in the area, I knew this was the inspirational story that I wanted to tell.
My experience as a scientist and as a researcher at the BBC helped me to be able to write a comprehensive grant proposal, outlining estimated filming dates, use of budget, storyline and estimated timeline for release.
Bento Nhamussua - the main character of 'Peixinho'
After a couple of months of waiting for the results of the grant, I was delighted to receive a wonderful voice note from Matt and Tamsin from the OCL crew telling me that I had been successful in winning the grant for the "Inspire" category!
After a short celebration, it was time to get into gear and book flights and set the shoot in motion. I was announced as the winner in July and my proposed dates of filming were in August, leaving me not a lot of time to organise an entire shoot.
Thankfully Chess is amazing at logistics and handled everything in Mozambique, leaving me to book flights, gather kit and work on storyboarding for the film. After saying goodbye to my colleagues at the BBC (where I was working at the time) I jumped on a flight to Africa to shoot my first film.
CHECK OUT THE NEXT BLOG FOR WHAT HAPPENED ON THE SHOOT