Ciara Flint: Women and Non-Binary Folk in Live Music
Updated: Feb 28
This series is an extension from our Instagram, with full Q&A's instead of the shorter Instagram bios. Here you can read the full in-depth interviews with Documentary Filmmaker and Freelance Videographer, Ciara Flint & go direct to their provided donation link to show your support:
I’m a documentary filmmaker and freelance videographer based in Edinburgh. I used to live in Bristol, where I worked at a film production company for a couple of years while building up my own personal portfolio on the side. As an independent filmmaker I’ve made two viral shorts for BBC3, created a short documentary that premiered at Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2019, and most recently directed a few music videos. In 2020 I launched a production company, Slightly Bitter Productions, with my best friend & creative partner. Our main aim with it is to platform queer and female-fronted stories, so we’re super excited to grow it and keep putting out work that we’re really passionate about.
As a woman in a male-dominated creative field, I’ve generally found myself being shifted more towards the admin side of things rather than the hands-on, practical work, and I do think that’s because it’s naturally assumed that women should shy away from technical stuff. I’ve had loads of ‘gendered’ experiences in my field… I’ve had people be surprised that I know how to work a broadcast camera, or edit, or generally frame a shot, ha. When I first started at an old job in a production house, I had a guy I worked with say, incredulously, that I was “actually quite smart”. Gotta love it!
I mean, it’s no secret that the creative industry has arguably been the hardest hit in the pandemic. It’s hard not to feel livid at a system that’s completely disregarding creatives, i.e. the people entirely responsible for this country’s thriving art sector - but I’ll save that rant.
I’ve had jobs cancelled, funding opportunities pulled and festivals featuring my work scrapped - and that’s been heavy and difficult to swallow. But to be honest, what’s helped is the overwhelming sense of solidarity in the creative industry at the moment - we’re all for the most part in the same boat, which absolutely sucks, but it does create a sense of community.
A silver lining has been having a chunk of time to develop ideas and work on passion projects. For my own self-preservation, I kinda decided to try and view the lockdown parameters as a creative challenge rather than a limitation, and I ended up churning out some work that I’m really proud of, that I probably wouldn’t have created under normal circumstances. I’m developing a few short documentaries at the moment that need to be adapted to work under the current guidelines, so I’m trying to carry that positive mentality through.
I grew up in South Africa as a huge fan of British music, so I really fetishised the UK live music scene, and when I moved here at eighteen I was shocked at how easy it was for fans to access their favourite artists at gigs - specifically mid-level bands in smaller venues. Because of my own experiences and the experiences of people close to me, I became interested in the really emotional power dynamic between artists and young female fans. At the moment we’re obviously oversaturated from all angles with stories of women being taken advantage of by men in positions of power, but it’s an incredibly broad, deep-rooted issue and I think there’s a very specific, emotional abuse of power between artists and their young fans that deserves to be explored. Historically, we’ve always normalised, and glamourised, “groupie” culture. Now, our perception of what is and isn’t okay has changed, but I really think that the culture has developed into something even more insidious with the rise of social media and our obsession with blue-tick status - it’s far easier for young people to be preyed upon by artists they idolise. I’ve been developing the idea of documentary making on the mistreatment of young female fans by male artists in the music industry for almost a year now, speaking to loads of women about their experiences, and it’s a project I’m really passionate about putting out there.
Leaving the security of a full-time job for the uncertainty of freelancing was a massive risk, but it was something I really wanted to do when I got the opportunity and funding to direct a short documentary I’d been pitching around for ages. Freelancing is daunting, unreliable and super stressful - especially in a global pandemic - but it’s allowed me to build up my skills as an independent filmmaker and work on passion projects. Regular work would be great, but to be honest I just feel really lucky to have had any creative work at all over the past year in lockdown!
I’ve worked in so many completely male-dominated environments where, as a young female creative, I’ve felt outnumbered, condescended, undermined… All the fun stuff. So, naturally, it very much feels like the world of videography and filmmaking is a boys’ club. In an industry historically catered towards a specific type of men, you often don’t even feel allowed into the room, let alone offered a seat at the table. It definitely caused a lot of self-doubt and insecurity starting out, but the more I create and grow as a filmmaker, the more I realise that being really technically proficient and throwing around intimidating camera-jargon doesn’t necessarily correlate to creative ability or talent. So I’m slowly trying to unlearn all that and back myself a bit more. Generally, I think something that’s super important is for businesses to have regulations in place to make sure that largely cis, male professional environments are a safe space for women and non-binary creatives. Beyond that, women and non-binary videographers, as a start, need more training opportunities, more workshops and more funding, and most importantly more encouragement. The world’s in desperate need of more art from voices that diverge from the norm.
Ciara would like to her support to be directed to One25 - a Bristol-based charity that helps women involved in street sex work - and you can donate here: https://one25.org.uk/donate/
Interview conducted by Bea Bennister