Get to know Katrina Smith-Jackson: ScreenSpace’s New Web Series Production Tutor
It’s not only new students joining ScreenSpace this October, there’s new tutors too! One of which is Screenwriter Katrina Smith-Jackson who’ll be teaching web series production to final-year students on our BA Content, Media and Film Production.
Katrina started her career as a script researcher on the long-running BBC series Eastenders and has been busy ever since. She was recently selected to join the writers’ rooms for hit Sky Atlantic show Riviera and has previously been commissioned to write several episodes of the Channel 4 series, Hollyoaks, as well as BBC children’s show Jojo and Gran Gran.
Most recently Katrina has been writing an original TV series pilot for BBC Studios and Channel 4 based on her own award-nominated web series, Shrink, which looks at the stigma of mental illness within the Black community. The project will surely be of great relevance and interest to our students, who will be producing their own series bibles with Katrina in their Become Influential module.
Here’s Katrina Smith-Jackson on what she thinks makes ScreenSpace unique…
When did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in filmmaking?
I’d say my passion for filmmaking was a slow, evolving process that started when I was three years old, watching The Lion King on repeat every day after nursery. But it wasn’t until my first taster of actually making a short film aged 17 for my Media Studies A-Level course that I fell in love with the craft of filmmaking. An ignorant comment from a school friend that I would never make it as a filmmaker because I didn’t ‘look’ like what a filmmaker was ‘supposed’ to look like, only spurred me on to make it happen. Fun fact: that very same person contacted me the other day to tell me that they always knew I’d make it!
How do you think ScreenSpace prepares creatives for a future in the screen industry?
Having access to tutors that not only have a theory-based knowledge of the craft of filmmaking but also current, practical experience in the industry, makes the education and training available from ScreenSpace all the more pertinent. Our present and past experiences, knowledge and information will help prepare students for their creative futures. We’ve already walked a mile in their shoes, so we can best advise on which boots are made for walking!
What for you makes ScreenSpace courses unique?
The connection to MetFilm School is a special one. A lot of this industry is about clout and by having this connection to such a well-known and prestigious establishment, students are immediately put in a unique position that they should relish every single moment of. You want a school in the early life section of your Wikipedia page that you can feel proud of, right?!
What innovations or developments in the industry have inspired you recently?
Being dyslexic, the thought of having to do a ton of last-minute reading absolutely turns my stomach! Whether that be story documents, pitch decks, treatments, call sheets, shooting schedules or budgets. Natural Reader is a text-to-speech app that has saved my bacon too many times to count! You can copy and paste documents into the app and have them read back to you by robot-sounding humans. In a time where our attention spans have naturally dwindled, what with lockdown stress and the difficulties of working from home, this app can save you a fair bit of time and energy that can be spent actually doing something meaningful, like eating cake.
Which events and opportunities in London should students be checking out this year?
When you find out, share the plug please, because I need to know too! It’s tricky, as everything has either moved online or been rescheduled to dates still to be confirmed. But the best place to stay in the loop about what’s on is Eventbrite. Search keywords or dates and you’d be amazed by what’s happening on our doorstep.
Finally, what’s the best thing about working with young filmmakers?
Working with young filmmakers gets me so excited for the new blood that I know will be coming up in the next few years. The industry is crying out for fresh voices and new talent to start these all-important cultural conversations, that we need to be having. To have a hand in forging the next generation of filmmakers that will be ‘entering the chat’ so to speak, is the best thing about it. Plus, I need to make sure I befriend them all now so I’m on the invite lists to all their fancy premieres and after-parties!