In 2016, I was a graduate – young, ambitious and very unemployed.
I knew I wanted to make movies and I knew I had perspective never told before on screen. But I also had zero credentials, no rich relatives in sunny L.A. and knowledge that getting into the movie industry was a hierarchical process – you had to start at the bottom of the ladder and then – only maybe – make your way up to the top.
I respected that. I still do. It’s a disciplined army – for those of you not in the film industry, I will confirm, it’s real hard work.
But I also knew that I had no chance of being a runner. I’m in a wheelchair and can’t lift my arms above my table independently. I knew I was a decent researcher, but from experience of having worked 5 days in the Commonwealth Games 2014, I knew it wasn’t physically sustainable for me to work 60-hour weeks. “Don’t work yourself to death” has quite a literal meaning in my life.
My life was, and is, difficult. I have to make every minute count, take smarter routes to the top if I can. And in early 2017, I was in discussion with my mentor Louise Scott, at media co-op, about the injustices of the Care Tax – a double tax levied on disabled people who need support for facilitating their independent living and achieving their basic human rights.
It would be a [rad]ical topic to make a film about – something I actually cared about and had unique lived experience of. But money to make your own films and pay for production doesn’t just roll up out of nowhere! This is where Inclusion Scotland came in…
Unheard of before [at least to me], Inclusion Scotland had an internship programme that offered 13 weeks of paid work to any disabled person not in employment, in any sector that they wanted to work in! I knew other internships existed, but none that allowed so much freedom and real opportunity to make a difference. No tick boxes, no boxes at all really.
It was a win-win situation. I got an internship, at a well-respected media company, to make the film I wanted to make, based on all-the-things I could do not what I couldn’t [seriously, all-the-things meaning writing, pitching, directing, editing…there’s an awful lot I can do!]. The film got made bringing to light this great social injustice of the Care Tax, I had an internship at a media company that allowed me to get ahead of my peers in terms of work experience, and press attention distinguished the film with my face being in the paper.
Since then, Inclusion Scotland have always been my allies. And now at Evenbreak, we are partnering to help disabled people find work with inclusive employers.
Inclusion Scotland’s mission is to achieve positive changes to policy and practice, so that we disabled people are fully included throughout all Scottish society as equal citizens. They do this by influencing decision-makers, supporting disabled people to be decision-makers themselves, and developing capacity, awareness and engagement. Find out more about their approach and work here.
Keep tuned for our collaboration!
p.s. As for me, I’m on my way to rock Hollywood, whilst working my super flexible dream job here at Evenbreak.