Last Thursday was the culmination of months of collaboration between Lucky Tooth Films, Channel 4 and All About Trans. Downstairs in the 100-seater Channel 4 cinema, we launched #PatchworkC4, a series of short films made with British trans contributors as part of our Patchwork Stories series. For Fox Fisher and Lewis Hancox from Lucky Tooth Films, the talent behind the My Genderation series, it was an opportunity for some well-deserved recognition amongst an audience of friends and family as well as guests from Channel 4, the BBC, Stonewall, LGBT organisations and national newspapers. There was mingling, drinking, and networking, but most of all it was a special evening, bringing everyone together from Scotland, Wales and all over England, to celebrate the launch of fresh, new and positive films.
During the day, the team held an interaction with several departments in Channel 4; factual, drama and marketing, as well as independent production companies. Volunteers from around London discussed ways to move away from trans stereotypes and encourage positive representation in film and on television. We’ll be writing a blog about the whole interaction later in August.
All About Trans Ambassador, Paris Lees, gave a passionate introduction to the evening by stating that this event “shows that trans people mean something”, and applauded the work of up and coming creative trans people making their own media. Alana Avery, Project Manager at On Road (the not-for-profit organisation who deliver All About Trans), summed up the achievements from the last 3 years of All About Trans’ work – an impressive 150 media professionals have been engaged with by volunteers, with outcomes ranging from radio documentaries, scripts in development, an upcoming BBC 2 drama, and articles by trans people in local and national newspapers. She said: “This project has had a profound impact on trans people’s lives”.
During the evening we screened 8 3-minute films out of the total 25 films produced, which showcased a variety of trans people with different backgrounds and experiences. Fox and Lewis filmed with models, psychics, business people, artists, soldiers, musicians, pilots and students. There were two panel discussions chaired by Lara Akeju, Development Manager for Channel 4 Creative Diversity. The audience heard from Fox and Lewis, as they shared their method and stories from filmmaking and then they had the opportunity to ask four of the participants, CJ Bruce, Rachel and her son Kai, and Nicole Gibson, how they found the experience.
Really incredible films, well done. There were definitely tears in my vicinity – Caspar Aremi, SoSoGay
One of the things that was touched upon in a question to Fox and Lewis was the amount of trust that participants had in the filmmakers. It was clear that trans people felt safe enough to actively come forward, including 9 year old Kai, who asked his mum if he could take part after watching ‘My Transsexual Summer’ and connecting with Fox. Some of the participants, like Jayne Rowlands of Welsh organisation Abfabb, expressed their complete support. They said had it been anyone else but Fox and Lewis working on Patchwork, they wouldn’t have come forward in the same way, or maybe not at all, and part of that trust was knowing who would be portraying them on screen and how.
In the words of Paris Lees: “2014 is the year that trans people stopped apologising”. Events like the launch of these new Patchwork films, show that trans people have something valuable to offer – something that’s not exploitative, but shows and discusses our lives and experiences on our own terms. More than ever, it’s clear that this is an exciting and pivotal time for trans people and the media, and that our work has only just begun!
In 2015, Channel 4 host a selection of the short films on ‘Shorts’, available to watch on All4 at www.all4.com. Shorts are Channel 4’s original short form videos on 4oD.