Emma Eckton - Actress
We reached out via social media to find inspirational women, who are in the creative industry and are parents. Emma is an actress who went back to acting later on in life after having children this is her story.
I’m 42 and a mother of 3 children (18,13,10) two boys then a girl. I’m an actress who returned to the industry 5 years ago after dipping my toe into supporting work. I left college when I was 16 after a couple of months to support my mum.
I Ended up working in retail. I worked up the career ladder and finally came to a head when I couldn't go to work due to stress of doing something I don’t love.
Being on set just made sense to me and my life, I felt Happy, alive and comfortable, the eagerness just consumed me and I had to make the decision, do I live unhappy and miserable for the next 40 yrs or be brave and just immerse myself full time into building my acting career.
To financially support my career I work in events and hospitality industry which again I absolutely love. I’m building experience and credits slowly but surely. Making connections too as that’s part of the journey. Looking back I’ve had a great career so far, Being on set of Emmerdale and Coronation Street (which are both my favourite soaps) Being involved in Coldfeet was also incredible as it’s one of my favourite drama's. I was even lucky enough to work on Bulletproof.
I regularly communicate with Jason Maza and Ashley Walters after using twitter to connect with them.
I was also luckily enough to work on Boiling Point short film by Philip Barantini featuring Stephen Graham as lead.
Since Covid-19 landed all my work stopped on the 17th March and I’m so looking forward to getting back out there. I’ve also like the other ladies onboard, had to endure homeschooling! Wow that’s just so not my bag? Daily arguments about it is grounding me down some days. I’ve also used this time to enjoy my family and home like I’ve never appreciated it all before.
I have a great supportive husband who tells me to sort my s**t out if I have a monologue or selftape to prepare for. I’ve been teaching myself accents. Abit of Spanish too, reading more books and keep practice reading and sight read better.
I’m a social huggy person and can’t wait for life to get back to some sort of new normal. I feel, because I can’t see or hug people I’ve “fallen out” with everyone and I does upset me.
This hub of talent is a great idea and can only bring strength, connections and work in the near future.
At the beginning of lockdown I’ve made a short film which is available on youtube and has over 1k views! Receiving nice reviews too. Here’s the link
It’s about a grief stricken mother who’s do something terrible and can’t move on. I’ve also entered a few casting comps and selftape to show different sides to my acting. I currently attend Zoom acting classes or webinars with Act4Tv and First Take Drama School, which helps routine.
I’m a total chatter box and wear my heart in on sleeve kind of woman. I love watching and listening to people. I am dyslexic so reading and hearing isn’t my strongest way to learn. I’m a kinetic (movement) learner.
Here’s my spotlight
I’m represented by TTA in St Alburns London.
I’m on all platforms:
Photo Copyright: Emma Eckton.
My name is Caroline Spence and I am a screenwriter/producer and founding partner of Raya Films. My filmmaking career began in 2004 with the production of documentaries, promos and music videos, but it was when I moved into feature film and screenwriting that I found my forté.
Our debut feature film Do Something, Jake premiered in a packed 300-seat Odeon theatre, went on to win a Best Feature award and was picked up by an American distribution company … and this all for a zero-budget movie.
We continue to fight fires and herd cats in the indie film industry and after many years of zero/ultra-low budget film production, we are ready to place our feet on a higher rung of the ladder.
In the meantime, here’s my lockdown story:
A life less ordinary...
With March 2020 in its infancy and Covid-19 causing a mere ripple in the daily lives of UK residents, we boarded our easyJet flight from Gatwick on a clear dawn, skipped over the snow dusted peaks of the Pyrenees and landed in the desert landscape of Almería in Andalucía, Spain. This is a trip we do many times throughout the year in order to work on our film projects without distraction, and, of course, to enjoy a very distinct slice of Spanish culture.
This was originally intended to be a relatively short trip, affording two weeks for us to continue the ‘offline edit’ of two feature films (Cyberlante and Surveilled) and work on research and writing for our next production, The Finca, which is set in Spain.
Nearly three months and seven cancelled flights later, we are still here.
Our base in Spain is a small sailing yacht. Now, this may sound glamorous, but before you think of shiny chrome, palatial cabins with plush upholstery and bespoke furnishings, think again. The yacht is in serious need of renovation and offers basic accommodation. It is, however, a lovely vessel and living on it is much like camping on water - spacious and airy with a wide cockpit free of the unnecessary clutter the more modern (and more expensive) yachts seem to collect.
A little over a week after we arrived in Almería, Spain’s coronavirus problem quickly escalated to become the worst-hit European country after Italy, and we were promptly placed in lockdown.
Movement was heavily restricted and we could only venture out to go food shopping or undertake essential tasks such as banking, visiting the launderette or pharmacy. Strict social distancing was enforced and even couples could not be seen walking together. The Guardia Civil and Policía were omnipresent, and although polite and courteous (and damned good-looking as it happens), these guys are not to be messed with.
At first, my anxiety levels were high, with one flight after another being cancelled, followed by the closure of the shower blocks and nothing but doom, gloom and despondency being churned out by the media.
Once we had accepted that we were here to stay, however, adapting to the situation became relatively easy. It helps that I love camping (real camping in a tent), but even so, showering under the hose in the cockpit became quite an experience!
The most difficult aspect of lockdown in Spain for me has been the inability to take exercise. People in the UK don’t seem to realise how lucky they are to have been allowed to take daily exercise during their lockdown. Doing pilates and abs (the only ‘exercise’ option) in a cramped environment is not easy and resulted in me wrenching a pectoral muscle, and so that was that.
Finally, however, with Spain over the worst of the pandemic, the 4th of May became a beautiful day with the implementation of the first phase of de-escalation, and we were allowed out during certain times of day to exercise individually (running, biking, etc.) or to walk with one other member of your household. And now, at the time of writing, the shower blocks have reopened and cafe terraces are back in action.
With my personal experience of this situation and as a foreigner, I feel the Spanish lockdown has been fair and well-orchestrated. It has been strict, but strict is what you need in such extraordinary times.
But what of Raya Films?
In all honesty the lockdown has actually benefited us. We were not filming or scheduled to film, but with Cyberlante and Surveilled in post-production, we have been afforded a lot more time to dedicate to getting these projects completed. Both films were shot in 2019 and this enforced lockdown has led to faster progress, so we are on schedule for 2020 releases.
In terms of events, however, two of our UK festival screenings for Do Something, Jake have been postponed indefinitely. Furthermore, the world premiere of our second feature film Agent Kelly at the Southend-on-Sea Film Festival has now been rescheduled from its original May date to Sunday, 23rd August.
Producing something from nothing
We have produced four feature films to date, all on zero/ultra-low budgets. At this level it’s about creating something from thin air. We’ve had no other choice. We shot these films in this way to build a track record in order to attract finance for future projects. We are, after all, by Hollywood terms ‘nobodies’ who came to the industry shall we say a little later in life, and so we’ve had no helping hands, preferential treatment, subsidy or mentors, and neither were we able to ‘buy’ ourselves into the industry with business connections or family wealth. What we could present, however, was valuable life experiences, pooled in-house skills, passion, tenacity and the good will of a handful of enthusiasts and talented individuals from around the globe.
Our journey to this point has been long and somewhat convoluted, but not without some fantastic highs, and we now feel that with these four features under our belt, we are ready to go to the next level. This we are doing with The Finca, a film that has been in the works for some time, and for which we are seeking a relatively small budget to go into production.
And while we continue to be in lockdown in Spain - in the very region The Finca is set - I’m taking advantage of this opportunity to fine-tune the screenplay ready to move forward with an environmentally sustainable, ‘covid-compliant’ production!
It’s difficult to estimate when I will return to the UK at this stage, since there are so many unknowns, but when we do return, it will be a very different landscape to when we boarded the flight all those months ago.
Do Something, Jake is now available to buy/rent/stream.
Visit www.dosomethingjake.com for more information and follow the links to purchase.
Zeb Achonu was one of many people that reached out to a twitter post we sent out, it was a a pleasure to read about the many projects she has worked on and what an insperation she is for women who want to pursue an editing career.
Some of her projects include:
Editor on the National Television Award winning Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs (ITV 2018)
Editor on the Children’s BAFTA Award winning Bear Grylls Survival School (ITV 2017)
Editor on the Children’s BAFTA Award winning Our Family (CBeebies 2017)
2016 selected participant on the WFTV mentoring scheme.
Editor on the Kids International Emmy Award winning Pet School (CBBC 2012)
Featured as “One To Watch” in Broadcast Magazine’s Hotshots list 2006.\
Here is her story about Lockdown.
Zeb Achonu - Life In Lockdown
My name is Zeb Achonu and I am a freelance film and TV editor based in London. I'm on the board of directors for WFTV and an Associate Governor of the British Film Editors guild. I'm also a mother of 3 wildlings aged 8, 4 and 1. Life was busy before the pandemic and has stayed busy but in a calmer way.
Lockdown: Family and Work
Pre lockdown I was freelancing for CGTN Europe making short films about science and technology for their weekly show RAZOR. A week before lockdown we were all told to work from home where possible and had media shared with us. It worked well. I always prefer working from home and not having to commute (90 mins each way on this job). I also pulled my kids out of school and nursery due to Covid fears, and started to consider the logistics of homeschooling. I've always wanted to work from home and to homeschool. I realise now that I didn't mean at the same time! My partner is a gaffer and all of his upcoming shoots were cancelled. As predicted, the following week the country went on lockdown and it all became even more real. My attempts at creating a fun and varied timetable for the whole age range had the addition of school online offerings, tantrums, my work deadlines and the roller-coaster of emotions lockdown brought with it. It's hard to listen to kids having tantrums about school work while you mute your mic on Zoom meetings and wonder how you are going to pull anything resembling a 10 hour day or get a cut ready for a viewing with numerous intrusions bringing various art gifts and lego creations.
I find myself working into the night so I can have a few precious hours (they don't always feel that way!) with the kids during the day. The school rang at some point to ask why my oldest hadn't logged in every day. I had to explain that caring for 3 kids and working from home meant it wasn't always possible to have their structures in place. In the meantime we have built a Lego film studio and the kids have had lessons on lighting from their Gaffer Papa, planned a film shoot for me to edit, done loads of gardening and discovered insects. All perfectly valuable lessons as far as we're concerned.
I've been lucky to have had a few weeks' work on a pre-shot TV programme and am now back making shorts, with mostly Skype recorded interviews. It's worked surprisingly well and although slightly more restricted in shot choices, it's been good practice in how we use stock or contributors' footage in interesting ways.
Links for Zeb Achonu
Nia Evans responded to our twitter call and wanted to share with us what life in lockdown has been like.
Nia is a production assistant at Happy Hour Productions and is also a freelance theatre producer for performer Tom Marshman, based in Bristol.
Nia Evans on 'Life in Lockdown'
Soon after being furloughed in my part-time role as a production assistant and losing freelance work, I started to feel quite detached from my colleagues and from the industry. While I’ve enjoyed having more free time, the sudden lack of any tangible goal or real deadline can make it difficult to see how you can move forward with your career and hobbies, and I started to feel like I was destined to never learn how to use high-tech equipment, to pitch new ideas, or even to bake something that turns out the same shape as the picture promised. Being part of a brilliant community union, Acorn, definitely helps as it gives me the chance to deliver leaflets offering support and pick up prescriptions for vulnerable people stuck inside, helping me feel useful and connected to my local area, but still leaves many hours in the day to be filled.
I've realised there are plenty of people in a similar position to me in the industry, by attending online events that organisations such as Screenskills, the BFI, and the BBC academy offer for free. I’ve started to learn about camera movement and framing from Jeremy at Skills2Film, had virtual ‘lunch with a commissioner’, and attended masterclasses on scriptwriting from Sally Wainwright (having just binge watched Happy Valley and Gentleman Jack a second time - I had to come prepared!). I’ve been joining in with watch parties and film clubs on Twitter, talking to new people about old movies I’m watching for the first time. I know it’s all online but it’s also genuine connections and conversations and jokes that we’re all making, together, in real time, that help ease the anxiety and loneliness that can easily creep in. I hope that the Women in Film and Entertainment website will now give us another place to gather and share our thoughts with each other.
I’ve also enjoyed some amateur artistic pursuits, filming a little paint along to a Bob Ross tutorial using only household condiments, (I deliberately chose a warm autumnal scene as we mainly had ketchup and mustard), and now that I’ve ordered some paints will hopefully do a better job next time. I've recreated stills from famous films, which I posed as a little quiz on Slack for my wonderful colleagues who are still in work, and in the family Zoom quiz. My brother, Sean, works in the NHS and contracted the virus fairly early on, but has fully recovered and is now back at work. I know he's really thankful for everyone staying at home right now. My hope is that despite the government's catastrophic mishandling of this crisis we'll find a new, fairer way to live as a result of it, and ensure that freelancers in the industry are not placed in such a precarious position ever again. I look forward to working together safely and helping make more of the brilliant films and shows that are keeping us all entertained at the moment.
Follow Nia on her Social Media.
I meet Rebecca on my when I started at the university for the creative arts.
Rebecca is a keen film maker and has been working with people in America on editing their projects, she has told W.I.F.E what she has been up to in Lockdown.
What I have been Up to By Rebecca Barrett
Whilst in lockdown I've been working on my feature film script alongside my two co-writers. We are nearly finished on our first draft so its going well.
I feel like the industry has been pulled backwards by this, with many places shutting productions down, which can be very expensive, especially for newer companies who may not be able to afford having productions shut. Cinemas have also closed, many films either aren't able to be seen or have been pushed back entirely, something which isn't good for cinemas as they can't make a profit from showing films, and the production companies are not getting any profit from their films being shown.
Asides from my feature film script, Ive been working on a very ambitious TV project idea, an 'artist battle' TV show, similar to the Korean show 'Queendom' which aired last year.I don't know if any TV company's would be interested but I can only try.
I have found that my social media use now is Very high, I use a lot more, as we can't go out, I am spending all my time at home, so most of the time I am working on ideas and scripts, using my twitter and instagram to network.
I don't like Not being able to go to Uni and see my family (apart from my parents as I live with them)it wasn't until this pandemic happened that I realise how much my family means to me.
So having said that the first thing I am going to do after Lockdown is visit my family members I haven't seen and hug them. My Aunt lives round the corner from me and I haven't seen her since the lockdown, its not fun.
I meet Alix in 2019 when we started the same course at the University for the creative arts.
Alix's caught my attention straight away with her amazing brightly coloured hair and it wasn't long before we was working on projects together. She has worked on my projects as an Assistant Director and Production Assistant, her ability to be organised is outstanding! always keeping on track with timings and visual aspects of a productions, she always made sure that I had more then enough footage to edit with and suggesting new ideas that I could use if we had time left over.
So here is her story about life in Lockdown.
Life in Lockdown By Alix Motershead
Hi, I’m Alix, I’m 21, and I’m a TV production student studying for my 2nd year bachelors degree at the University for the Creative Arts. This lockdown has brought new living circumstances for us all, for me it has resulted in the somewhat premature cohabitation of me and my boyfriend.
We were planning to move in together after a year or so anyway but this accelerated things.
The Start of Lockdown.
At the beginning of lockdown we had only been together for 4 months, celebrating our 6 month anniversary in quarantine was not quite what I had imagined for us but I had no complaints.
I imagine it was similar to other couples' early anniversaries, in that we both forgot. Rest assured we will make up for it once the measures lift.
While lockdown is difficult for many, I am very fortunate to be in the position that I am. Currently I’m writing this from Groningen, a city in the northern province of the Netherlands where my boyfriend lives. We are lucky enough to have an apartment to ourselves and live in relative peace waiting for things to return to normal. This part of the Netherlands has not been as badly hit as other places, with fairly lenient social-distancing measures in place, we are still able to go for walks, cycle to the market and leave the house for some other non-essential reasons.
How I spend my Days in lockdown
As a uni student the commitments to my degree have not stopped during this time, so most of my days are spent writing, researching, and planning so that I can still pass this year as planned. I’ve also been video chatting with friends, and actually, I feel that I have talked to people more than usual, which is a brighter side affect of this pandemic. There have been many positive things happening at the minute and focusing on those really helps keep me in a positive head space. I can only hope that we learn from this time and take the good things with us to the other side when life returns to ‘normal’ — whatever the new normal may be.
On the TV industry
The TV industry has faced many challenges due to the lockdown; shoots have been cancelled, programming has been reformatted, and sadly many jobs have been lost or put on hold. However, I don’t feel this is necessarily a negative time for the industry, many other sectors have been hit a lot worse. Ours is, luckily, an area that is always having to adapt to new technologies, constraints, and push boundaries to create content and ideas for people to consume and enjoy. The natural creativity and innovative thinking of our community is something that has allowed this sector to evolve quickly with the times.
Another subject that this lockdown has brought to light is how reliant we are on the arts. For many, I’m sure, TV is offering an escape to the madness of the world right now and a sense of familiar normality. Now, more than ever, illustrates that humans need the arts as a distraction, an outlet, an activity, and as a unifier. Everyone can consume art and everyone can create it. How many times have you talked to your friends and family about a TV show you watched, a film you saw, or a book you read? I’m sure during this time you’ve found solace in being creative, weather working on your next screenplay or just doodling to pass the time, it should not be overlooked how much we rely on the arts and expressions of creativity to keep us occupied (and sometimes sane!)
Creativity and mental health
I use creativity to help manage my mental health. I often suffer with anxiety and low self esteem so during lockdown I’ve needed to be even more vigilant in taking care of myself and my mind. Most of my creativity is currently focused on my uni degree; making storyboards, documenting my learning, and self-shooting a short film. However, I have been enjoying different activities too; my boyfriend is a trainee chef so we have been crafting lots of delicious meals together and even started making our own bread (if you haven’t tried this out already I’d certainly recommend it, you can also boast about it to your friends on Instagram).
My Social Media activities
I am quite an avid user of Instagram averaging around 2-3 hours daily but interestingly my usage has gone down during lockdown — probably due to my uni deadlines creeping closer. I’m sure once summer hits my activity will skyrocket, but for now I am pretty happy with my 34 minutes of average daily use. I have found myself using other apps more frequently, however. I’ve used Zoom and Houseparty for the first time ever and my use of Facebook messenger and WhatsApp have certainly increased to stay in touch with my friends and family. I do find it somewhat ironic that many people in 2019 and early 2020 were doing ‘social-media cleanses’ yet now we need these apps more than ever. Maybe we will learn from this and realise that social media isn’t the enemy and can be a useful tool for communication, but also I would like to people to now cherish the face-to-face time they get with one another and appreciate how much we need physical human contact.
The Most Frustrating Thing Whilst in Lockdown
For me, the most frustrating thing about isolation has been the distance I’ve had to keep from my friends. I very much miss hanging out with them, going to concerts, and generally being free to see them whenever I want. I’m lucky to have my boyfriend with me and he has been my saviour throughout this. I really feel for people in lockdown alone as I couldn’t imagine doing it myself. If you are reading this alone, stay strong, it will end one day.
When Lockdown Ends
When lockdown ends my first move will probably be to have a party with my friends, lots of drinking, lots of talking, and most importantly, lots of hugs. After the reunion and probably a couple days hungover, I want to really focus on building up my work experience and entry points for my career. Over summer, I will be doing lots of research and reaching out to production companies in order to make connections in the industry and find a place to start once I graduate.
As lockdown continues for the foreseeable future I am trying to spend my time wisely, once measures lift and we return to life I hope that I can continue to follow my dream career. I am sure there will be many interruptions along the way but my passion will not cease. I can’t wait to get back to university and have a cracking final year, full of creativity, excitement, and potential.
Nicole Faraday is an award winning television, film and theatre actress best known for her portrayal of Snowball Merriman, the glamorous murderess in two series of ITV's smash-hit television series Bad Girls, also recently re-screened on CBS. She is also familiar as former series regular Dr Heather Lincoln in BBC's Casualty, and as the man-eater 'Veronica' in ITV's Emmerdale.
Previous television credits include Doctors, Kingdom, The Bill, Bad girls and many more.
I met Nicole whilst I was in Essex staying at the same hotel as herself and Chesney Hawkes, they were doing a show near by.
I was sitting with her brother Chris on the terrace and he mentioned that Nicole was an actress best known for her role in Bad Girls, that was it I had to meet her.
Without me acting like a celebrity stalker I waited for her to find her brother and she did!
Nicole was so down to earth and we spoke for hours.
I told her all about my life in the industry and we got on like a house on fire, even to the point of exchanging social media links (It wasn't the right time to swap numbers lol).
Ever since that day we have stayed in contact and she is one of the most humble Actresses I have met and I have met a few. - Carla Buckingham
Nicole on 'whats been happening in lockdown'
Whilst in Lockdown I have been Just keeping my head above water really .. as a performer all my work was cancelled overnight, even prior to lockdown theatres and live music events were cancelled and shut down and because of the close proximity of actors on film sets, they were also shut down. I had to quickly fill the void and I am pleased to say I now have had my own body shop store online for a month now so that is keeping me really busy and earns me a bit to keep me going before I can perform again here is my link.
I have always been a bit addicted to social media so I have been using it a lot more now but I think, maybe others can relate, that it is a life line for us at the moment and I am using it non-stop both to advertise my business, connect with work contacts and for video messaging my friend and family for a chat, I just recently met my new niece via facebook messenger chat!
Along side my body shop business I have also been taking photographs .. I am passionate about my environment and beautiful local surroundings down here in Dorset, I love story telling through photos, I have added my snaps below the blog.
I have also got creative with me 3 year old nephew ..Painting stones from the beach, making squidgy soap and liquid soap from odds and ends, painting rainbows and making cakes. I decorated my bike with silk Singapore orchids round the basket and the new bell, I have used the bell a-lot! I have a couple of were I teach an online TV masterclass coming up, and I will also be taking part in a Guerilla, Unrehearsed, Shakespeare Production of 'The Merry wives of Windsor' With a worldwide cast!
The industry has changed immeasurably .. many projects will be shelved or cancelled for good as people have lost money and time and investors may well no longer be able to invest. Plus the close way people work together on TV and film projects physically will have to change that too, at least for the time being .. lots of work will be filmed as it is currently, remotely .. with many more monologues, castings will also all be by self tapes and not in person and new multi screens will be used to tell a story.
This situation though is frustrating for me on every level. My new house fell through due to Covid related money issues and logistics .. so much work has been cancelled. Not being able to see my new niece and support my sister in person .. not being able to hug and being around my beautiful friends .. I am single too and not getting any younger, so I feel like I am treading water on that score. But I count my blessings that none of my close friends or family have succumbed to this terrible illness thank heavens.
When all this is over I WILL PARTY LIKE NEVER BEFORE! and obviously spend time with distant family, friends and loved ones ... being 'out,out', free swimming in the sea and having a cider in the sunshine. Oh, and cuddling with my baby niece.
For people who are struggling right now I think the best thing to do is what you feel able to do. It is natural to feel displaced, anxious and fearful for the future. Sadness and depression too as this is unlike anything we as a world have ever been through before. Do what you need to do to get through this, and we will get through this. Reach out to people via telephone, email or social media, use the opportunity to learn a new skill .. read lots .. take inspiration from people you can like Captain Tom or hibernate in a little ball under the duvet. There are always people you can help or even just smile at to make their day. Be at one with humanity as we are all going through this together. Take good care of yourself.
To find out more about what Nicole is up to please visit www.nicolefaraday.co.uk
Nicole Faraday Showreel