Today we’re chatting with Linda Charles, Chair of our Alumni Network. When we first decided to set up the Alumni Network, we wanted to ensure that our trainees develop their skills and confidence long after the cameras stop rolling. It is important to us that the change that begins in the courses can continue, so through the Alumni Network, past course participants are provided with additional training and support to tell their stories and become champions of the change they want to see in their communities.
Linda is one of our film trainees turned mentor. As part of a film-training course delivered in partnership between See Change Films and Families Forward of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea she, and a group of trainees, filmed, directed and edited 'Family Time', a documentary which followed Linda’s family and three others on an exciting holiday in the countryside. Linda said of the experience, “How can you explain something that’s such a wonderful memory that you’re all going to have, something that’s going to stay in your heart forever?”
While Linda cherished the family activities where her family came together as one, she also valued the experience of filmmaking. She said, “I’m quite shy but I’ve found that this has really given me a lot of confidence to ask people questions because it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, I can still talk to you.” In our interview with Linda she tells us more about how it felt to come back to See Change Films and Families Forward as a mentor and how filmmaking has changed her life.
Name: Linda Charles
Lives: in Ladbroke Grove
Works: as a nursery teacher
‘It was both scary and nice to be asked to come back and help others. I wanted to become a mentor because Family Time was such an important experience for me – now I’ve got the opportunity to give something back. It is also just really good to meet new people in a safe environment like this.
Filmmaking has brought me out of my shell. I’ve been a very shy person my whole life but now I have the courage to speak to different people, and I actually really enjoy it! Becoming a mentor was the next step for me – I wanted to show that I have the confidence to take on this role. Now I can be the person encouraging others to work together and to try different things with the camera. The most challenging thing about mentoring for me is meeting new people for the first time. I always think: how can I relate to this person? How can I make them feel at ease?
As a mentor I can help others to push themselves and tell them about my own experiences. When I was younger I was put down a lot and I didn’t do very well at school. Learning to make films made me feel like I can do things I never thought I could do. Now I want to make others feel they can too. We recently went to Hastings to film with the trainees and I was able to calm some people down when they were first interviewed. I told them I know it’s scary at first but that being in front of camera soon gets more comfortable. When we were on the train back home, some of the parents came to thank me for my help. Hearing that they had actually taken on board what I had told them made me feel I have really come a long way.
We are learning together with the trainees – I’m still picking up many technical camera skills myself. Interviewing people is my favourite thing about filmmaking, and also something I feel I can really help others with. In the future I would love to stay involved with the group and to do a bit more filming here and there. And I want to become even better at speaking to different people.’
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