Our Founder Aysha Scott’s Unconventional Journey into Filmmaking

Our Founder Aysha Scott’s Unconventional Journey into Filmmaking

My Journey into the Film and TV Industry

My journey into the film industry was an unconventional one. I did not attend film school and had to teach myself all the ins and outs from the ground up. Ever since I can remember, I have always had a passion for film; it became my escape from my colourful start in life. I grew up in Deptford to a single-parent family with six siblings, in a rough neighbourhood. By age 13, I was in a gang and quite a rebellious teen, but whenever I watched films, they gave me hope for the future and a new world and life to cling to.

Films were a big part of my upbringing. Every Friday night was takeaway and movie night, and we took turns going to Blockbuster to select a movie. No genre was off bounds; we watched films like "Fist of Legend," "Nightmare on Elm Street," and "Dirty Dancing," to more subtle dramas such as "Uncle Buck" or "Home Alone." These moments are etched in my mind for eternity, building a solid foundation for family unity and bonding time. I even implemented this practice in my own home with my children, sharing many childhood films with them and creating lifelong memories filled with imagination, laughter, and hope.

After finishing my GCSEs and leaving school, I was too shy to pursue a career in acting. Plus, coming from a Jamaican background, media and entertainment were seen as dead-end roads, so I opted to study business administration instead. I hated this field, and the idea of being a secretary in some boring court or stuck in an office freaked me out. I always knew I was a creative person at heart. I wrote loads of poetry in my spare time, was part of a rap group where I contributed to song writing and choreographed dance moves, and attended a local drama group to stay off the streets rather than follow my actual desire to be on screen. Time swiftly passed, and before I knew it, I was 18, stuck with a dead-end business administration level 3 certificate that I just couldn’t seem to get a job with.

So, I reverted to my passion for film and got a job at UCI Cinema, enticed by the free cinema tickets and the opportunity to watch movie after movie. I loved seeing all the latest theatre releases before they hit TV channels, but that job didn’t last long. I spent more time hiding in the auditorium watching films than cleaning it, and the job ended quicker than it started. But it did spark my passion for films again, so something was gained from the experience.

My First Job in the Film Industry

Fast forward to 2007. After running my entertainment company, ArtistQuik Ltd, for three years, my chronic shyness became an issue in my role of having to interview and deal with major celebrities for my online digital magazine and other production activities. I was a heated, hot mess every time I asked a question on the red carpet or in some swanky bar. I left with a high level of admiration for them, wondering how they were so confident on camera and just seemed to have it all together. It niggled away at me and I couldn’t let my shyness hold me back from my purpose any longer.

So, I took the plunge and enrolled in an 'acting for confidence' class I spotted in the newspaper. They offered free sessions, so I thought, hey, what have you got to lose? After attending for a few weeks and growing in confidence, the teacher pulled me aside and said I was a talented actress and encouraged me to take it further. My confidence was boosted, leaving me with a big head for weeks—big enough to audition for the renowned Anna Scher Theatre School in Islington, where I trained comfortably for many years. During my time at Anna Scher, I secured an agent and went on to work in many theatre, film, and TV productions.

My first role as an actress in the film industry was as a lead in a TV drama called "Breach," one of the first online web series back in early 2010. I did a few small roles in "Eastenders," "Hotel Babylon," and "The Bill." But as you can imagine, the state of diversity in the industry back then meant roles were far and few between. When you did manage to secure one, it was usually typecast and tedious and my passion for acting quickly felt stifled.

My Journey to Becoming a Filmmaker

It wasn’t until after completing a creative writing degree in 2014 that I began to explore my passion for filmmaking. I left university with a 2.1, missing a first by a few marks due to not doing so well in my first semester. However, I received the course director’s prize for outstanding achievements in scriptwriting, meaning my work would be archived at South Bank University and used as study material. I received firsts in every screenwriting module, boosting my confidence and making me think I was going to slide into an industry job writing for the BBC or some other big broadcast company. However, after a year of submissions, I was deflated with rejections. Sometimes I received depressing rejection letters, other times I was simply ignored.

This brought me back to a time in class when we had a visit from an industry professional who told us in no uncertain terms that we needed a secure career behind us, as gaining access to the industry was a deadlock without connections. It sounded bleak at the time, but I was now living that moment. However, being a go-getter and never accepting "no" as an answer, I set up A Scott Productions to carve out my own experience and career.

My friend had been working on a short film script and asked me to come on board as a co-writer and producer. I leaped at the challenge. We joined forces with a small crew, hired cast, used our own houses and other in-kind venues, and created our first guerrilla indie feature film called "Residential." I loved every minute of creating the film—from casting actors to filming high-speed shooting scenes in the midst of the night. No license, just a bunch of creatives with the same vision. The film took a while to edit—two years, to be exact—but once it was out, it wasn’t too bad and got its premier screening at Buff Film Festival, going on to be nominated for two awards for Best Actress and Best Feature.

I had the bug for filmmaking from that point and went on to make my award-winning short film, "It Still Hurts," which premiered at S.O.U.L UK (BFI) and screened at numerous UK and international festivals, winning Best International Short at Validate Yourself Film Festival in New York. In the same year, I was awarded a one-year membership for Women in TV and Film and mentored by Nicola Lees.

Highlights and Achievements

My biggest achievement in indie filmmaking was being flown out to the States and producing the multi-award-winning short film, "Voice of Reason," a collaboration with U.S. director Antoine Allen. In 2021, I made my directorial debut with my short film, "Dismissed," which I also wrote and produced. It’s available to watch on several streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Bohemia. The film has reached over 1.1 million views on A-Scott Productions' YouTube Channel and was officially selected for 12 festivals, including Cannes International Independent Film Festival, BUFF (Bafta qualifying), Lift-Off Global, ISFF, and SISS Festival, winning a monetary award from the Women of African Descent Festival in Brooklyn.

"Dismissed" was also picked up for distribution by Focus First International and is available on U.S. VOD platforms Softy and Hivyo TV. I am now in development with my two social realism features, "Angel" and "Tanya."

In 2023, I was selected to attend the European Film Market as part of a BFI Cohort with my feature film debut, "Angel." This was a significant milestone, showcasing my work on an international stage and opening doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

Launching Filmmaking Planner

Also in 2023, I launched my company, Filmmaking Planner, dedicated to providing custom planning tools and stationery for the film and TV industry. This venture aims to empower and inspire other indie filmmakers by offering practical resources that cater to their unique needs. From detailed production schedules to creative brainstorming templates, Filmmaking Planner is designed to support filmmakers at every stage of their journey.

Tips and Encouragement for Aspiring Filmmakers

For those of you embarking on your own journeys into the film and TV industry, here are some tips and words of encouragement:

Follow Your Passion: No matter how unconventional your path may seem, if you have a passion for film, pursue it with all your heart. Passion is what drives creativity and innovation.

Never Stop Learning: The industry is constantly evolving. Keep honing your skills, whether through formal education, workshops, or self-teaching. Stay curious and open to new techniques and technologies.

Build a Network: Connections are crucial in the film industry. Attend industry events, join film groups, and collaborate with others. Networking can open doors to opportunities you might not have found otherwise.

Embrace Rejection: Rejections are part of the process. Learn from them and use them as motivation to improve. Every "no" brings you closer to a "yes."

Create Your Own Opportunities: Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Create your own projects, no matter how small. Each project is a learning experience and a step forward in your career.

Stay Resilient: The journey can be tough, but resilience is key. Keep pushing forward, stay focused on your goals, and remember why you started.

Enjoy the Process: Filmmaking is a creative and collaborative endeavour. Enjoy every moment, from the initial idea to the final product. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.

Remember, every filmmaker’s journey is unique. Embrace your story, and let it inspire your work. You have the power to create something amazing, so go out there and make your mark in the world of film.

For more insights, resources, and to learn about my new venture, visit Filmmaking Planner

Let's make your filmmaking dreams a reality!

By Aysha Scott

Back to blog