Subject of study: BA Arabic with International Relations
Year of graduation: 2010
Current position: Researcher and Producer, Chouette Films
What are you doing now?
I now work as a researcher and producer at Chouette Films – a film production company committed to using film as a tool for social change. I am also a PhD Candidate at the London Film School/University of Exeter researching the role of the producer in collaborative documentary filmmaking.
What did you find most valuable about your course at Westminster? How did the skills you learnt during your degree help you to shape your career?
The year I spent studying Arabic in Alexandria, Egypt was undoubtedly the most valuable part of my course. The experience of living in a place that looked so seemingly distant in the past and the opportunity to get to know its language and culture has equipped me for the transnational film productions I undertake now on daily basis in my current role at Chouette Films.
What was the best thing about being a student in London?
The best aspect of being a student in London is the unique access to the leading organisations, conferences, events and academics who work in this vibrant and cosmopolitan city. The opportunity to learn from them first hand and collaborate on a myriad of projects gives London students a significant advantage over students based in other parts of the country. During my time at UoW I had the opportunity to provide linguistic help at the Bologna Conference that took place in London at the Department for education and skills in 2007.
What extra-curricular activities did you participate in that enhanced your time at the University?
During my time at Westminster I made a successful independent application for EU grant funding and, for a year, worked together with other volunteers on a community-based film making project for young people in inner-city London. It has been an amazing platform to exercise my skills and transfer the academic knowledge I gained at the University into a practical project.
What advice would you give to someone thinking for pursuing a similar career?
I don't come from filmmaking background at all but ended up working in the film industry. It is important to realise that different industries need a wide range of talented people especially researchers, people with language and business skills. If you are passionate about something, in my case- social change, you will find alternative roots to do what you want to do using your skills. Through Chouette Films I now work towards using film as a medium for social change.
Why would you recommend Westminster as a place to study?
I would recommend Westminster because of the wide range of scholarships available at the institution. I was fortunate enough to be awarded one of them and it has been the beginning of a life changing journey. The scholarship opened doors to endless opportunities through the additional training and activities organised as a part of the scholarship. The Career Award Scholarship was particularly aimed at young entrepreneurs and it proved to be just the kind of support I needed as I ended up running my own business now. Interestingly enough I did not realise my entrepreneurial skills during my time at Westminster but the Career Group have identified them!
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
After my BA at Westminster I went on to study International Development at SOAS. The experience of studying at both institutions has helped me to realise the need to translate academic research into a medium more approachable to the general public. It is how Chouette Films came into being. We now collaborate with academics, NGOs, public sector to bring complex issues to the realm of the public. Chouette Films has been award at many international film festivals and recognized for building social inclusion through film.