Pursuing your passions at university might just pay off, and it definitely did for graduate Lauren Evans, who’s looking forward to the release of The Next Dimension on the 30th of January — a short film she’s been working on.
While I was in the midst of January exams, I took the time to speak with Lauren about her role at Team Awesome Productions and how she got involved with producing short films, something which is a world away from coursework deadlines and exam stress.
Lauren graduated in 2016, having studied German and Chinese here in Manchester. She now works in analytics and sales full time at Bloomberg. Yet throughout her degree she made time to work on film and acting projects after developing an interest at school. “I’ve been very interested in film since forever, and towards the end of 6th form I started making some short videos for YouTube for fun,” Lauren explains. “Since then, I’ve been trying to work on various different films and web-series to gradually improve my skills and experience and ensure that my project quality keeps getting better and better.”
She’s currently a producer for Team Awesome Official, a collaborative project between young people who want to make films, where she oversees entire projects from start to finish. “I handle the full film process, from idea generation, securing funding, managing pre-production, production, and post-production processes, as well as securing the correct people to come onboard for every project. It is a fairly mammoth task, but it is definitely worth it,” Lauren explains.
Despite the hard work involved, she certainly has a lot to show for it as she’s been involved in several successful short films including Elephant Juice and Girls On Tour. The films that Team Awesome Official create are incredibly professional and provide a platform for young people, from aspiring actors to wannabe writers, to get their work ‘out there’. The short films and web-series are released online for anyone to view, showcasing their work to a wide audience.
A lot of the films Lauren works on examine social topics which are often under-represented in the media: “Film and TV are a great way to explore some socially taboo topics, such as menstruation, the portrayal of women in media [and] mental health stigmas. I enjoy trying to make an impact with my work.”
Particularly in the age of social media, short online films are a way of communicating ideas and getting messages across, which is something Lauren really enjoys in the process. “If any of my content can help even a few people all start to understand and empathise with these topics a little more than before, then I consider the project to be an overall success,” she smiles.
However, being a producer is no walk in the park and there are a lot of challenging aspects involved, particularly when getting the film projects off the ground. “Our biggest challenge to date was getting funding for our projects,” Lauren reveals. “We prefer to go the traditional route of receiving funds from a company, rather than through crowdfunding.” Although this way of raising funds involves more effort, it is more rewarding for Lauren, “it definitely is a nice validation of your ideas.”
During her time at university, Lauren was involved with several creative projects, which all stemmed from her love of film and revolved around drama. “I had been involved in the German play since first year, firstly as an actor before taking up the role of producer in final year. I also founded and produced the Chinese play, as well as joined the newly formed Manchester Film Society to keep up with film practice,” she tells me. It was at the German play where I first met Lauren, and it was clear that she was passionate about her role as a producer. If this was not enough to be doing alongside her degree, she also acted at the Contact Theatre in second year; Lauren definitely made the most of every opportunity that came her way.
For Lauren, getting the balance between her degree and her passion was key to the success of both, although she warns against getting swamped in too many projects. “Once you’ve found your balance, I guess just try to take risks and practice your creative skills as much as possible,” she remarks. “If you have any possibility to integrate your creative interests into your degree as well, definitely take that opportunity. You’ll be surprised how well a lot of creative passions can work well alongside doing a degree.”
Lauren’s working on several projects right now, with The Next Dimension coming out soon. The short film explores the relationship between mental health and social media, you can find out more on the Team Awesome Official’s Facebook page.