Lucy Jane and Joya Berrow

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Surfers and documentary filmmakers, Lucy Jane and Joya Berrow, are the founders of The Right to Roam, and they are this month’s Shextreme members in the spotlight.

The talented duo is passionate about environmental issues and exploring the relationship we have with nature. By using the medium of filmmaking, Lucy and Joya create thought-provoking films, that force us to look at ourselves, at our social and environmental responsibilities. But, what we all want to know is, how did the two of them unite creative forces?

“We found each other and creatively came together in around 2015 when we found ourselves in South London together studying Film Practise at The London College of Communication” explains Lucy. However, before that, Lucy’s filmmaking path began when she was 16, having finished school and feeling a little unsure about which career path to pursue, Lucy recalls watching a French film about two leading freedivers from the 20th century, Le Grande Blue, which showed Lucy “the power of film to transport people, to lead them on journeys and even to educate”. With little opportunities to study film in mid-Wales, Lucy moved to Birmingham where she studied Creative Media Production.

For Joya, media creation began to take shape when studying photography in college where she learnt to create “narratives within the photographs and understanding this process of visually representing an emotion.” From here, Joya branched into film which led her to study a bachelors degree in the art of filmmaking. Joya recalls, “it was during the first year of the degree that I realised I was firmly into documentaries - the experiences and impact that this medium could bring.”

Surf Girls Jamaica

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Having worked together on a few film projects, Lucy and Joya received their first commission to create, Surf Girls Jamaica, a documentary following, Imani Wilmot, who uses surfing to transform the lives of women in Jamaica by providing them with access to the sport, and to help them find their place within the global scene. “We have been able to reach out to and engage such a large audience on YouTube and Facebook with our latest film, gaining huge features on many incredible press platforms, and to see it actively engaging and inspiring different global communities has only demonstrated more the power of this medium and the responsibility to do good with it!”

Taking time to look back and reflect is an essential part of the creative process to learn, adapt and grow for future projects. Lucy and Joya explain that they “did have a miracle fleeting moment of perspective the other day when the two of us together realised that everything we deliberately visualised and aspired to happen at the start of 2018, we achieved! This is, we have come to learn, the law of attraction, when you set your deliberate mind to visualising specific ideas you can, through attraction, make these concepts come to you!”

The Gender Equality Balance

There are no two ways about it; there is a significant unbalance in gender equality when it comes to creative media professions. With much of the industry being very male-dominated, it can be a little intimidating for women to enter with additional challenges and levels of judgement to overcome.

“We are highly aware of the misrepresentation of our voices as women when portrayed in media but also as female filmmakers trying to find work. However, we try not to get too hung up on it, by surrounding ourselves with strong positive people we can make anything happen.”

Lucy shares her early experiences of gender inequality in filmmaking, “I focused on Cinematography at university and started working on a music video and commercial shoots as a camera operator. I found that really hard, not being taken seriously, constantly sneered at with sexual or patronising comments, it made it so hard to grow and learn the trade I had chosen. But it only made me more determined to develop in this mode of expression and working with Joya, as two females, has been incredible. We make each other stronger and can tell stories through our own female gaze challenging and overcoming any kind of gender inequality.”

Having female-only organisations and groups helps create a sense of community and support to nurture and encourage aspiring filmmakers and creatives. Lucy and Joya joined Shextreme Alliance last December, and their take on the importance of enterprises like Shextreme is all about role models. “Everybody needs role models, especially when we are trying to make our way in a world which is notoriously male-dominated. By connecting us, Shextreme can allow us to find role models in each other, to show that anything is possible when you put your mind to it, and also to connect us so that we can work together and support each other in creative ventures.”

What’s Next?

As the new year unfolds, many of us are setting goals and making plans to better ourselves and reach new heights in our passions. So, what’s in store for The Right to Roam?

“In 2018 we choose filmmaking as a full-time career, and so now in 2019, we want to see how we can support ourselves and make a living from it. By connecting to people and brands who have a strong social responsibility, as well as redefining commercial content to reflect these values, we want to use our experience in making documentaries to make engaging and powerful commercial work too that can change minds, behaviours because that leads to culture change.

We are still very much putting a lot of our focus into Surf Girls Jamaica, which was released on the 10th of January. We are distributing the film to make the biggest impact possible; to connect to and inspire women of colour and also to work towards a more diverse and accessible surf industry. There are many women in sports whose stories are underrepresented, and we are excited to see where this project can take us.”

Parting Advice

  • Recognise early the power of your medium that is film and see how you want to use it to make positive momentum and change! Because it is a powerful tool when used right.

  • Filmmaking requires a lot of hard work and commitment, so choose projects that you are really personally invested in and feel hugely passionate about on many levels.

  • That fire is what keeps you going through long production, shoot and edit days. When you give it your all, you get an incredible daily feeling of fulfilment.

  • Collaborate and be inspired by other creatives who respect you as much as you do them, look at subjects/themes with a wide-open heart with gratitude and appreciation for your characters.

  • There is no one language, especially with film language. The medium is limitless and the more expression you put into to, creating your own unique film language the more of a gift you will be giving to your audience.

You can keep up to date with Lucy and Joya’s projects by checking out The Right to Roam website, and by following them on Instagram.