Keighra was diagnosed with Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder in her final year of school, the impact of which meant she had to complete her studies remotely. During the application and interview process, the Next Steps Bursary Award panel were blown away by Keighra’s determination and hard work to overcome the challenges she has faced in pursuit of achieving her dreams of becoming a film director. In this conversation she tells us how the Next Steps Bursary will ease her transition to university.

How will the support of a Next steps Bursary make a difference to you?

Coming from a single parent household, I have been always worried about asking for financial support and having a disability makes it difficult to have a long-term part time job, therefore the award from the Aldridge Foundation will be a great support as I find my feet and get used to living independently.

I’ll use the funds to purchase equipment and software which will allow me to continue with my studies if I am unable to attend lectures due to poor health and also towards the cost of a personal assistant, which will allow me to socialise and fully immerse myself in university life.

How did you find your passion for film?

I’ve always been a creative person and alongside film, took graphics and photography at GCSE but when I achieved a distinction in film I decided that would be my focus and my passion has grown from there.

How did your time at school help you get closer to achieving your dreams of becoming a director?

I am very proud of what I have achieved at Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio throughout my GSCE’s and the first year of my A levels. I feel I have developed an excellent overall knowledge of filmmaking which will be beneficial to me as I start my university course.

I worked very hard on making sure my films looked professional and were relatable, and always took criticism on board as a way to improve my filmmaking. I appreciate all the support and guidance I received from my tutors, who are industry professionals, especially in my second year when I was forced to become a distant learner due to my sudden disability. They inspired me not to give up on my dreams of becoming a film director.

Have you completed any work experience within the film industry?

In order to develop my skills, knowledge and experience in the industry, I found work experience opportunities and took on a commission to produce a series of promotional videos for live music events. This resulted in my work being shared on the band’s website and social media platforms, widening my audience and increasing my profile. Additionally, I also independently directed and edited my own short film which was submitted to an experimental film festival in London. Later this year I will also be working on a professional independent short film with an award-winning filmmaker.

What are your future aspirations and why?

I aspire to direct fictional films, as I thrive in an environment with other creatives and enjoy the process of collaborating with actors as well as a production crew. I realise that I cannot become a film director immediately, so I am prepared to work up to that role gradually through putting in the hard work to exceed all expectations.

University will give me the opportunities and experiences to gain crucial contacts and experiment with different film genres so that I can develop the skills and knowledge needed to grow as an aspiring director. Ultimately, I’d like to create my own film style and be creative with my ideas so that I stand out and can build a professional reputation as someone who isn’t afraid to challenge social norms.