As someone who wants to pursue a career within the film industry, I was extremely excited to be invited along to This Way Up 2018. I have always wanted to attend film festivals/conventions in the past, however, I felt like I wasn’t clued up enough on film to go and thoroughly enjoy myself (although I am working on that, my desk is currently filled with too many Sight and Sound magazines). So, I went into the convention with a few preconceived notions but still really open minded and enthusiastic.

My friend and ROOT-ed Zine colleague; Fauziya Johnson, has written her thoughts of day 1, so I will be starting with day 2! 

Day 2 began with a lovely session titled ‘what the papers say’ that started bright and early at 9:20am... I actually missed this session because I really am not a morning person at all.

So, I started day 2 at the more conventional time of 10:30am with Kymberlee Jay’s Lead Your Way workshop (it rhymes!).

As a woman of colour, I am not the obvious person you may think of (because of systemic racism within society), when you think of the word ‘leader’. You will likely envision a white man, in a three-piece suit with shined, calf leather shoes. Therefore, finding sessions that are not only catered towards people that look like me- and also don’t look like me- is rare, especially when it’s also lead by a successful BAME woman! I was so excited for it.

Lead Your Way was set in the cushiony and informal space of The Box (at the TWU’s main venue, FACT, Liverpool), where the participation of the activity was used to improve and empower ourselves as current, or potential leaders.

This workshop was incredible and, not to sound dramatic but, it was quite life changing. As the co-founder of ROOT-ed Zine I have the responsibility, along with Fauziya, to lead the magazine into a successful future and to be honest that can be quite daunting. Kymberlee got us all to partake in a game - she didn’t really explain why or the outcome of the game, but we all willingly went along with it. She asked us to list 5 words to describe our character, then another 5 words for how our colleagues and co-workers may describe our character. This was daunting at first but by using Kymberlee’s easy technique, both Fauziya and I were able to find our voices in regards to our leadership styles!

We then had to list 5 more words to describe how we would like our colleagues and co-workers to describe us. We made several of these lists to several questions then at the end, the incredible Kymberlee revealed a statement on the projector that she wanted us to fill out using the questions we answered. We then had to read our statements out loud to the rest of the group. Here is mine:

“I am a leader and I am confident, caring, a good listener, assertive and happy. I believe in equality for all and will not tolerate unfair treatment to ethnic minorities, in particular. My strengths lie in practical knowledge of creating and editing digital content and I am developing skills in public speaking to amplify my success”. 

Kymberlee then went on to also explain to us all the different types of leadership styles. She pointed out to us that each style has its downfalls which also means that no leadership style is wrong, which for those in leadership roles is such a big relief.

After Kymberlee’s empowering workshop I grabbed lunch quickly and headed up to the Lunch Time Lab: D/Deaf and disabled programming panel discussion. The session was super relaxed as the three panellists conversed on stage as we, the audience, listened attentively while munching on our sandwiches, cakes and crisps. It was insightful listening to the panellists speak as their conversation was important and I felt quite honoured to have listened to their thoughts, opinions, stories and advice. One of the panellists, Caglar Kimyoncu spoke bravely and honestly on the lack of representation in cinema. Caglar challenged the audience to create spaces that reflect the cities, towns and communities they work in and even acknowledged the lack of representation of the audience and the panel.

I then attended a funding workshop with David Johnson. ROOT-ed Zine is looking to secure some funding for next year and so I thought this would be perfect. The session was informal and attendees got the chance to ask any questions they needed. David updated us with trends that he has noticed in trusts giving out funding and also gave us detailed tips on how to write a good case for support and a cover letter. This workshop wasn’t as fun or exciting as the others but it was extremely practical and helpful. 

At 3pm PechaKucha presenters talked about different topics. It felt like I was at a TED talk as all the topics and concepts discussed were really innovative and relevant to today. Some of the topics discussed included mental health, cinema culture, patreon and Mubi (a great app for indie films). The last speaker was my absolute favourite. Yasmin of Inclusive Cinema in Wales discussed how to incorporate intersectional feminism into cinema and broke down to the audience exactly what intersectional feminism is (if you don’t know what it is, it is basically the concept or idea that things like race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability etc or not separate at all and they are in fact intertwined). As a Black, working class, woman I definitely was able to relate to everything Yasmin was saying. 

Day 2 was diverse in terms of topics, conversation and people and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have accumulated enough knowledge and confidence to last me until the next This Way Up in 2019.

Amber Akaunu, co-founder of ROOT-ed Zine.