We interviewed our friend Sybil Ah-mane from Flexible Films about their work, and the powers that film has to make a positive change in the world.
What are you passionate about? What motivates and inspires you?
My biggest passion is supporting people to use film as a form of communication. It’s rewarding working on small and large film projects. You develop really good relationships when you work closely with people on the challenges and the breakthroughs that each project brings.
Film excites people, so the whole process – from filming to editing is a wonderful journey. And for those who don’t like the idea of being filmed, it’s satisfying when they gain your trust and enjoy the experience.
Filming makes things special. The knowledge that the activity will be recorded somehow creates more focus and makes the interaction more meaningful. I always feel privileged when interviewing and appreciate the fact that I can question and be curious.
The whole filmmaking process inspires me – especially the editing. I love the fact that you get to ‘take people home’ and re-spend the time you had with them.
It’s very absorbing when the film starts taking shape. The majority of our projects are co-produced so editing is often a team effort. After the film has been launched, it’s fantastic to leave the project in the hands of those who helped create it.
I am very project driven and enjoy the fact that there are so many different processes in film.
What is your greatest professional (and/or personal) accomplishment?
My partner Russell Hall and I ran a mental health filmmaking group for 12 years and I see that as our biggest achievement. It was a therapeutic filmmaking group and there were over 20 members. They produced experimental films as well as training films for Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust. They had films shown on the Community Channel and festivals. The group members were using acute mental health services but some went on to employment and education.
I’d love to continue developing the idea of therapeutic filmmaking because it can incorporate music, art, writing, acting, film and many other mediums. We have seen how it has helped people say what they want, grow in confidence, gain new skills, form good relationships, and be part of a positive community.
Who has been your biggest influence?
I feel privileged to have known the late Jon Underwood, founder of the Death Café. Jon gave up his job to start what has now become a global movement that supports people to talk about death. He felt that if people talked more about death, it would help them value and reflect upon their finite lives. This in turn could lead to positive change in wider society. I agree with Jon’s mission and he was very inspirational to work with. I hope to work with the same passion and belief on projects and further ideas I value.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given and who gave it?
My 84-year-old friend Dorothy once said that, “we choose who we have around us”. It made me think about my relationships, work and life. It made me realise that I could conscientiously make choices. It was liberating.
What moved you to get involved with Creative Conscience?
I love the ethos, values and aspirations of Creative Conscience. The awards create opportunities for young people and their communities. It’s good to be part of something that is creative and socially aware.