Behind The Screen / Filmmaking

Behind the Screen: Jasmine Kaur Gregory, Filmmaking Student

21st June 2024

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Welcome to another instalment of Screen and Film School’s interview series, Behind the Screen, where we explore the creative journeys of our talented students and graduates.

This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Jasmine Kaur Gregory, an accomplished student currently pursuing our BA (Hons) Filmmaking degree. Jasmine was the recipient of the prestigious Seamus McGarvey Scholarship in 2021. In this interview, we discuss her experiences at Screen and Film School, how the scholarship has significantly impacted her studies, and some of her earliest and most cherished film memories. Join us as Jasmine shares insights into her time at the school, her aspirations for the future, and valuable advice for anyone considering applying for a scholarship.

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Student Insight

What inspired you to pursue filmmaking?

My family is movie-mad. Growing up, it was a rare occasion when we didn’t watch something in the evenings. It was, and still is, the way we connect with each other. My parents got together at a young age and shared a love of films, so it was only natural that they passed that love on to me and my sister.

Coming from a mixed British Punjabi household, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ was, of course, a big favourite. I absolutely love Gurinder Chadha, and she was a very early influence of mine. She showed me that you can absolutely make films about your own experiences.

The movie that got me initially interested in filmmaking, though, is M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’. I went through a phase of loving horror movies (albeit at a younger age than perhaps I should have), enjoying how they were able to render me terrified. After a ten-year-old me finished watching ‘Signs’ for the first time, I was naturally quite afraid of aliens. But my dad reassured me that the movie was not real, showing me some behind-the-scenes footage that piqued my curiosity, having never considered how films were made before this. I wondered how the creators were able to construct something to deliberately elicit such a strong reaction from me. But, more importantly, I wondered: How can I do that?

How did receiving a scholarship impact your decision to join the course and pursue your passion for filmmaking?

In the beginning, I was unsure about attending film school. I was wary of the costs and wondered if there would be enough opportunities for someone like me. Finding out that I won the scholarship was a dream come true and, honestly, it put to bed any worries that I had about going to study filmmaking. To get recognised for my work at that young age was a real confidence boost and gave me the motivation I needed to pursue this passion of mine. I knew that if I continued to work hard, it would pay off.

What are some of the most valuable experiences or lessons you’ve gained from your time on the degree so far?

Some of the most valuable experiences I have gained from my time on this degree have to be the connections I have made with people. With each project I have worked on, I have met someone new who has impacted me in some way. I really do believe that people are at the heart of every creative endeavour, and I strive to make those connections with as many people as possible. I learned that kindness goes a long way and how to prioritise myself and my own well-being.

Can you share a few highlights of the projects you’ve worked on?

The project I am most proud of is my recent short film, A Well-Bread Woman. It was an idea I had for a while and was inspired by personal experiences as a woman of colour working in film. I found a brilliant actor, Harriet, to play the main woman, and she connected so well with the story. Her being mixed race too meant that we bonded over shared experiences, and she could bring those to her performance. We got along so well, and the film was all the better for it. It was the best experience working with an actor I’ve ever had.

In my second year, I also made a documentary exploring how people express themselves through clothes. A memorable moment during this production was finding subjects for the film. I got to meet a whole bunch of people, varying in age and gender. This gave me the chance to explore some local communities too, which I am still involved in now.

How has the scholarship helped you in terms of accessing resources and opportunities that you might not have had otherwise?

Receiving guidance from Seamus is the main opportunity that has come from this scholarship. I have gotten the chance to meet him in person and keep him updated on my projects, which is super exciting. Having the opportunity to be mentored by someone as incredibly talented as Seamus is unbelievable. I feel that it has been a great privilege to have this scholarship, as it has given me the chance to meet a lot of people I may never have crossed paths with otherwise.

What challenges have you faced during your studies, and how has the support from the scholarship and the university helped you overcome them?

Just as I was about to start my second year at the film school, I fell ill. It meant I had to move back home and take the entire year out. It was a very difficult decision that put a big question mark on my future, not only at the film school but as a filmmaker altogether. The film school was by my side throughout this challenging period. They were there for whatever I needed, whether that was advice and support, just a quick catch-up, or even making sure my questions still got asked at masterclasses I couldn’t attend. I don’t know what would have happened financially if I took the year out without this scholarship, but I know that it was certainly one less thing to worry about. I was able to put my studies on hold, get better, and return in a much healthier way!

Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for your filmmaking career, and how do you feel your education is preparing you to achieve them?

My main aspiration is to continue writing and directing my own films, in whatever capacity that may be. I know, however, that I must work hard for this and feel that my education at Screen and Film School is preparing me well for this. From CV and cover letter workshops to 1-on-1 tutorial sessions with the industry engagement team, I think that the school is setting me up for success when I graduate. I have been lucky enough to do some work experience placements on TV sets through the school, which has put me in a great position for when I leave.

What advice would you give to other students who are considering applying for a scholarship to pursue their dreams in filmmaking?

Don’t be afraid of going out of your comfort zone! Go and talk to people you may not necessarily want to talk to. Because one thing I have learned is that you never know who may pop back up in your life in unexpected ways.

Also, don’t overthink it. Try to get across your personality and work ethic as honestly as possible. If you’re passionate about this, it will show in your application. Just be yourself. There are no right answers when it comes to talking about influences or favourite films—I think I even talked about School of Rock in my application for this scholarship!



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