‘Everyone should feel empowered to create’: The Tab speaks to Cambridge Creatives

‘We want to see an industry that can entertain and inspire everyone’

Founded in the midst of the pandemic, among “widespread cancellations of productions across the industry”, Cambridge Creatives provided a glimmer of hope for cinephiles to hang onto as the worlds of theatre and films came to a crashing halt. Cambridge Creatives reassured those aspiring to work in the industry that Covid-19 would not destroy their dreams, and that the world of film and theatre is still very much alive.

The Tab Cambridge spoke to Founder and Co-President of Cambridge Creatives, Hannah Collins, and Executive Officers, Harriet King and Claire Lee Shenfield, to discuss the highs and lows of creativity in a pandemic:

‘Both a vacuum and also a desire for inspiration’

Hannah told The Tab that, as a response to this “widespread cancellation”, she recognised there was “both a vacuum and also a desire for inspiration that [they] could respond to.” Originally planned as a film club and a way to engage with other film-fanatics, Hannah said she could have never imagined transforming Cambridge Creatives into “a series of Q&As with some of our heroes from stage and screen!”

Now a University society, with a committee of 14 “cinephiles, musical geeks and thespians”, they have chaired some brilliant Q&As with very impressive speakers.

These speakers have included Johnathan Pryce, Josie Rourke, Armando Lannucci, Rienkje Attoh, Lenny Abrahamson and Sir David Hare. They have also produced their inaugural screenplay competition, with “four industry professionals as judges and are working on more ways we can expand.”

Excitingly, this week Cambridge Creative’s are hosting a Q&A with Ellen Mirojnick, an Emmy Award winning costume designer. Mirojnick is especially known for her period costume designs for ‘The Greatest Showman’, and most recently, ‘Bridgerton’.

As with all our hopes and dreams for 2020, whilst Covid-19 opened a window for Cambridge Creatives to be founded, it also meant a lot of Hannah and Claire’s shows were postponed or cancelled. Along with the heartbreak of many others after pouring hours into projects, Cambridge Creatives provided the creative space we all needed during lockdown.

‘There have been many more web series, creative writing competitions and short film projects’

Hannah said that as well as Cambridge Creatives, “there have been many more web series, creative writing competitions and short film projects”, and hopes “when the theatre scene recovers, we can still maintain this level of creative focus on film, tv and radio shows, as well as theatre.” Likewise, Claire told The Tab that Covid-19 also made way for exciting remote projects, including “co-writing a web series and setting up [her] passion project, BIPOC comedy collective Toast.”

Hannah also said “one of [her] favourite aspects of chairing these Q&As has been the words of advice and inspiration from our speakers, particularly from the women.” Significantly, only 4% of director’s working on the top-grossing films in 2018 were women. Although this has risen to 16% in 2020, there is clearly a long way to go for female representation in film, and breaking the “Celluloid Ceiling.”

Hannah noted that Josie Rourke and Sarah Brocklehurst in particular, “really encouraged women to be persistent in their career goals, to not be ashamed of their ambitions and to have a plan of how to enter the industry.”

Everyone should feel comfortable and empowered to create’

Hannah believes “it is important for the Cambridge film and theatre scene to represent all, with diversity of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.” While, as students, we may not be able to take on the film industry and demand greater inclusion, we can begin by ensuring all are represented in the Cambridge film and theatre scene. Hannah believes “everyone should feel comfortable and empowered to create.”

Striving for representation and diversity, Cambridge Creatives has also specifically created the role of Diversity Officer, “in order to ensure that our speakers represent the industry because we want to see an industry that can entertain and inspire everyone.”

Photo Credit: Hannah Collins

Harriet also noted that it is “hard to ignore that a suspiciously large proportion’ of successful people in the British media are male Oxbridge students.” She hopes that seeing “so many talented women in our film and theatre scene” does “inspire hope for the future.”

She also emphasises that whilst female representation is of extreme importance, the need for “more LGBTQ+ and BIPOC representation, which Cambridge’s theatre scene isn’t exactly great for” urgently needs working on.

Hannah hopes Cambridge Creatives will become a staple when we come back to Cambridge as graduates in many years time’

Speaking about their long-term goals for Cambridge Creatives (post Covid-19), Hannah said she would, firstly, “love to meet the members of the committee in person!” The society’s other priorities include “secur[ing] funding for our short film project and curating [their] website with reviews, as well as continuing with our regular Q&As.”

She would also love to “collaborate with more societies’ and involve more members of the Cambridge creative world with “competitions and workshops next year.” She hopes that Cambridge Creatives will become a “staple when we come back to Cambridge as graduates in many years time.”

Harriet also said that she would love to “host screenings of films” as a society. Her original role on the committee was to be Screenings Officer, although this has had to been put on pause. She said “the dream would be to host a screening of a film in one of Cambridge’s lovely cinemas followed by a Q&A.”

Claire also believes “making [their] online offering engaging and innovative enough” will make people “want to interact with it even when they’ve got other places to go.” She notes that even though the society came out of “necessity”, the goal is “to make sure Cambridge Creatives stays too.”

I am excited to see what Cambridge Creatives achieves in the future and I hope that they continue to inspire the next generation of Cambridge students to get involved with theatre and film.  If you would like to learn more about Cambridge Creatives and their future events, you can find their Facebook page here, and their website here.

Feature Image Credit: Cambridge Creatives Instagram Page

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