Posted in Stories

Bedside Book Review: The Life Project

The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of Our Ordinary Lives by Helen Pearson



‘The remarkable story of a unique series of studies that have touched the lives of almost everyone in Britain today;

‘On 3rd March 1946 a survey began that is, today, the longest-running study of human development in the world, growing to encompass six generations of children, 150,000 individuals and some of the best-studied people on the planet. The simple act of observing human life has changed the way we are born, schooled, parent and die, irrevocably altering our understanding of inequality and health. This is the tale of these studies; the scientists who created and sustain them, the remarkable discoveries that have come from them. The envy of scientists around the world, they are one of Britain’s best-kept secrets.’ (Google Books)



In The Life Project, Pearson describes the course of four studies that set out to chart people’s lives from the cradle to grave. She follows the development of the cohorts from the first one beginning in 1946, to the most recent in 2000.

Over the span of those 54 years, she tells the stories of the scientists and the 70,000 ordinary people who took on the monumental task of making these studies possible.

Though which she manages to emphasise the importance of these studies and how influential they became on UK life.

Pearson does a wonderful job of bringing to life a complex subject that touched the lives of so many people with an effortless style that at no point becomes convoluted or incomprehensible.

However, her gentleness of touch means she only scratches the surface of the studies, and presents a chronological descrption of the cohorts, rather than an in-depth exploration.

She does little to probe the question the cohorts set to find out: if you are born into difficult circumstances, are you destined to have a difficult life.

She simply reports the data.

A lot of the pages are filled with description rather than exploration.

Repeatedly she goes on to tell of the hardships the cohorts faced through waning funding and political support, but does little to show the disheartening, stressful affect this would have had on the people involved.

Perhaps a more personable or scientific approach may have suited the subject matter more.

Nonetheless, as a beginners look into the relatively unknown British cohorts, Pearson provides an easy insight into a mammoth study that otherwise may go unnoticed, despite touching the lives of almost everyone in Britain today.


Posted in Stories

Peek Inside My Scrapbook

I’ve only recently started scrapbooking but already I’m enjoying collecting bits of memories and slowly filling the pages of this book.

The book and all the craft items are from The Works.



This is my Erasmus Page.

I kept my plane ticket and my first train tickets, as well as ones from my trips around the country.

On the map, I marked where I lived and the places I liked/ visited.

I got the little pegs from eBay, and glued them in to hold the pictures in place. I thought it gave it a nostalgic feeling.

The cross that I tied to the spirals was left over from an art project from one of my classes there.


Of course, I had to make a Download Festival Page.

I got the mini photographs printed through Inkifi.com. They’re 0.25p per images, and I think they are the perfect size for scrapbooking. Plus, they are printed on sustainable paper.



I had a calender with words of the day on it, so I kept some of my favourite words and hope to fill this page with weird and wonderful words.

I particularly like the word poetaster which means ‘an inferior poet’.


Posted in Stories

Things Editors Want You To Know

Thinking of becoming a filmmaker?

Here are some things you should know to make sure your editor doesn’t hate you 🙂


1. Give Us Something To Cut

Editors need footage to… well, edit.

Otherwise we’re just sitting in a dark room watching outtakes for no reason.

While I do believe there is such a thing as too much footage, as a general rule, the more footage you film, the happier we’ll be.

Record early and cut late- that way we’ll have a place to cut, not just having to leave it where the camera turned on and off.

Always film extra angles and takes and, when shooting b-roll, film a minimum of ten seconds and record it at least three times.


2. No, We Can’t Fix Everything In Post

While I agree editors are like media magicians, if you didn’t film something, we can’t magically pull it out of the stuff you did film.

My favourite request from a director- when they realised they hadn’t filmed a particular angle- was: ‘…can you not just move it round a bit.’

No.

No, I can’t.


3. Tell Us What You Want

Talk to your editor, go through the footage with them, explain your vision for the piece.

Of course, all films develop and we change our direction and minds, but don’t wait until the last minute to tell your editor you’re not happy.

We don’t like staying up all night… again.


4. Clap. For. Audio.

For the love of God, please don’t forget to clap in view of the camera and range of the microphone.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a board or just your hands and saying out loud the scene and take.

I’m begging you, just do it.

Syncing audio is a tedious job, but what is even more soul destroying is when there is no marker to help us.


5. Sound Design

I think this one mostly applies to filmmaking students, but please let your editor know if they’re going to be volunteered to do sound design as well.

It’s nice to be prepared for extra work like that.


Posted in Stories

Why I Write

‘Once upon a time, there was a chicken named Jenny. But she was no ordinary chicken. She was the odd one out. All the other chicken were brown with small beaks; she was covered in white spots and had a large beak. The other chicken made fun of her.

Oh God.

Re-reading old stories from when I was a child had never been my favourite thing to do. Yet I still kept them all, and occasionally I leaf through my big green folder in search of childhood inspiration.


I remember as a kid I always playing pretend; making up pretend worlds, pretend characters, pretend adventures.

I was either lost in a book or lost in my head.

Because of that, in Primary School, I was the ‘buffer’ kid; you know, the quiet one they put in between the loud ones to split them up.

They aren’t my favourite memories but I think that’s where it all began.


This one is called ‘A Bundle of Fur’: ‘It was Halloween and the moon was high in the sky…’

And it’s about kittens…?


I loved writing stories in class back then… well, I say short, I always had trouble sticking to the word limit. I suddenly found I had a lot to say with a pencil in my hand.

Writing those stories was the first time I really believed I was good at something and felt true, excitable passion. I became the good writer of the class which was pretty cool; it was like being the centre of attention but no one was really looking at me.



Other writers always put it so eloquently… I’m not sure how many artists would admit to finding their passion in a sticky blue seat in the middle of a snow storm.

But I remember sitting in my Primary 4 classroom in winter- hoping to get sent home earlier due to the weather- when our teacher handed back our marked short stories.

The feedback on mine read: ‘Great story, Rebecca, as always. Perhaps we’ll see a book from you in the future.’

And it was like a door opened.

That made complete sense.

My heart whispered yes and as simple as that I suddenly knew what I wanted to do.


When I got to High School I was told writing was not a ‘real job’ and was strongly advised to choose a more ‘substantial career.’

This conversation took place in a library, just so you know.

So I applied to study writing at Glasgow College, because… Well, why would I listen to a bunch of teachers?

It was there I fell in love with scriptwriting.

And one honors degree later, here we are.

Still writing.


Posted in Stories

Let’s Talk About Life After Uni

On Friday the 28th of June I graduated.

After four years, I finally got my Bachelors Degree with Honors in Filmmaking and Screen Writing.

It was a lovely day starting with pancakes in a quaint coffee shop here in Ayr, before heading to Troon Concert Hall where the short and sweet ceremony took place.

My parents, boyfriend, and university friends were all there, and it was great to catch up and celebrate our achievements together.

But I couldn’t help thinking: Now what?

It was equal parts terrifying and exciting as I was handed that piece of parchment.

My life plan was always to get to this moment: to get into university; to get a degree in something I loved.

I have that.

Now what?

I have no plan for life after.

And it’s a daunting thing to walk off the stage and have life- real life- suddenly open up before you.


After I submitted my dissertation (finally!) in April and classes ended, I found I really struggled to cope with the sudden end of work, seeing friends every day and direction.

Combined with no idea what I wanted to do and needing to get a job before SAAS ended, I felt myself going a bit crazy.

It was three months of staying at home applying for jobs all day, having no money to go out, awkward interviews and rejection emails- a stark contrast to comfy student life.


Fastward and I finally got a glamorous job cleaning at Morrisons.

It’s not perfect but it’s where I am right now. And it isn’t where I plan to stay. But it is hard to look ahead to a future you have no idea about- particularly a creative career where the entry and progression aren’t as clearcut as some jobs.

If you did study a creative profession like me, the best thing I’ve found to do is don’t stop once university ends. Keep making things; art, poems, scripts, films, stories, photographs, mistakes.

Don’t let the post-uni slump ruin your creativity.

We will find a way to make a living from it. It will just take some time.

Zulie Rane wrote a great article on Medium called Listen, You Absolutely Can Create For a Living which I highly recommend reading if you’re starting to have doubts about which direction to take.

She says: ‘It’s bizarre, but writing is one of the few things that people tell you not to chase your dreams on. It doesn’t matter that writing is a great way to keep your memory or observation skills sharp, or that it delivers a much-needed boost of introspection into your hectic life. People will go out of their way to let you know that you’re not going to be the next J.K. Rowling.’

I feel this is the same for many creative professions.

But it doesn’t always come from other people; we often say it to ourselves. And I found, after university, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing those thoughts.

So my advice to anyone just about to graduate: when you receive rejection letters, silence that voice in your head that’s telling you you’re not good enough.

Silence it, then keep going.


It’s ok not to know. It’s ok to work a crappy job while you figure things out and try new things- so many new things. Your job is not who you are and, if you let it, your creativity will continue to guide you to where you need to be.

I’ve made a list of things I want to try- youtube, blogging, restoration business, publish a book, study makeup artistry- and I will keep trying each one until something works.

It’s all about the journey. So make it a good story.