Increasing inclusivity and the representation of disabled people in film

BFI NET.WORK Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales present training day Launchpad: Access.

This one day training event will focus on disabled filmmakers, cast and crew, exploring how to improve inclusivity both on screen and behind the camera. Hosted by Julie McNamara from Vital Xposure, the day will include:

  • Case studies on Jane Gull’s My Feral Heart and Ted Evans’ Retreat, featuring Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.
  • A selection of short films featuring disabled cast and crew
  • Sharing learning from the Hijinx Filmmaker Cohort
  • Practical group workshops with Diverse Cymru
  • A networking drinks reception

Launchpad: Access has been designed to benefit both emerging and established filmmakers, with or without disabilities, and is open to all.


Date: Saturday 13th May
Time: 9.30am 
Location: Urdd, Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, Cardiff
Cost: £10 (access bursaries available)

Lunch and refreshments are included, and the day will be followed by a networking drinks reception from 17:00. The schedule is subject to change.

Please click here to buy your ticket.

09:00   Registration and Coffee

09:30   Introduction: Tracy Spottiswoode (BFI NET.WORK & Ffilm Cymru Wales) and Julie McNamara (VitalXposure).  Screening of short film

09:45   Face to a name: partner organisations introduce themselves and the support they offer: Disability Arts Cymru, Diverse Cymru, Hijinx, CULT Cymru, Equity.

10:15   Case Study: My Feral Heart with the film’s director Jane Gull.
A look at the making of micro-budget British indie following a man with Down Syndrome (Steven Brandon) forced to move into an institution despite a capacity for independent living. Hijinx filmmaker cohort are also invited to share some of their learning from the recent training programme working with actors from Hijinx Academy

11:15   Coffee

11.45   Director Ted Evans (Defeye) & producer Alex Usborne (104 Films) discuss their upcoming i-features thriller Retreat, the first British feature film to be shot entirely in British Sign Language. Joined by actor Ben Owen Jones on working in the industry from a performer’s point of view and how filmmakers can help make the industry more accessible and inclusive.

13:00   Lunch
14:00   Workshops (approx. 45 mins each with break in between)    

Session A: Filmmaker Caglar Kimyoncu on devising scripts from improvisation working with disabled and non-disabled performers

Session B: Diverse Cymru offer a practical session on ways to eliminate obstacles – both perceived and actual -  and enable the industry to be more inclusive for disabled filmmakers, cast and crew

Session C: Creating Accessible Films Without Money or Time
Filmmaker Sandra Alland will guide you through low- and no-budget filmmaking ideas. Screening a few of her short documentaries and poetry-films as examples, Sandra will highlight tips for: budgeting time and money (or lack of it); coming up with a concept or storyboard; organising co-conspirators; hiring disabled and D/deaf people for your cast and crew; and creating captions and audio description. With practical advice and creative prompts from Sandra, the group will imagine ways to carve exciting films out of (almost) thin air.

17:00   Networking drinks reception


Jane Gull’s film My Feral Heart will screen at Chapter Arts Centre on Friday 12th May. A character study about the universal themes of grief and friendship, the film sees a sudden bereavement throw a fiercely independent young man with Down’s syndrome into a daunting new environment, where he finds unexpected support from his feisty carer. Followed by a Q & A.

Ticket holders for Launchpad: Access will receive a discount code allowing them to see My Feral Heart on Friday 12th May for £4.50.

About Vital Xposure

Vital Xposure is a touring theatre company operating under the creative leadership of disabled artist Julie McNamara. The company promotes hidden voices with extraordinary stories to tell. Their mission is to create exciting, innovative theatrical experiences for audiences, artists and communities alike. All work presents an inclusive experience where access issues do not intrude upon the aesthetic of the productions.

About Hijinx

Hijinx is based in the Wales Millennium Centre, working alongside actors with and without learning disabilities to create innovative work which challenges preconceptions. Hijinx's vision is to change the landscape of the arts in Wales so that it becomes commonplace to see and hear performers with learning disabilities on our stages, screens and airwaves. Hijinx Academy is the only professional performance training course for actors with learning disabilities in Wales and equips actors to perform in Hijinx's professional productions. Students learn performance skills, facilitated by tutors and supported by professional theatre practitioners. For more information, please click here.

Hijinx have recently launched a dedicated casting platform and support service for actors with learning disabilities which includes direct pieces to camera from the 52 actors currently represented, details of what they can and can't do; what form of access support is required and what support Hijinx can offer: https://hijinxactors.co.uk/