MA Future Media to Digital Entrepreneur

We caught up with MA Future Media student, Nessa Chileshe, who has recently started her own independent filmmaking company, The Retreat Productions. She tells us all about her experience on the course, what inspired her to start the business and advice for budding entrepreneurs.

Why did you decide to study your MA course?

I decided to study MA Future Media because although I had knowledge in marketing prior to the course, I knew that there was a huge gap and I didn’t feel I was being taught consistent good practices on the job. This encouraged me to make the decision to go back into education after a number of years working in the TV industry as a Digital Producer.

What has been your highlight of the course?

I think the main highlight has been the level of support that has been provided and the space that we are given to allow us to actively seek out what we want to do once the course has finished. When I first started, I was nervous about having my ideas shut down because of my past experience with education, but this has been completely different at BCU. I’ve felt challenged and, as a result, I can see how much I have grown. So I guess the highlight for me has been regaining my confidence and having that nurturing environment to make mistakes and learn from them.

How do you feel your course has helped you in your new career as a digital entrepreneur?

I don’t think I am starting a new career as a digital entrepreneur per se. I had an idea to start an independent production company and I think the course has helped me to formulate a strategy and to develop my own methodology in bringing the production company to fruition. I think I now have skills that will serve the company and the people I come into contact with on a daily basis, but I think that is also an accompaniment of what it involves to be a filmmaker in this digital age. In the first week, I had a tutorial with my personal tutor and told her about my ideas. This whole academic year, she's kept me accountable and checked in with me consistently, which has been so helpful and something that I hadn’t been used to.

What inspired you to start your own business?

For me, I’m fed up with the way things are for creatives across the board. There is an expectation that you should be stressed all the time and be underpaid. Stress and economic factors are two of the biggest contributors to suicide and other mental health problems in the TV and Film industry. I was also tired and drained from trying to wait for someone else to see this as a problem worth tackling. Not being paid doesn’t pay your bills and poor working environments don’t create good work or a healthy place for people to grow and develop. So for me, it was a necessity.

Could you tell us a bit more about The Retreat Productions?

The Retreat Productions is an independent film production company specialising in telling stories of explorers relentlessly pursuing human connection. Outside of the stories we’re telling, we also have a commitment to nurture the health and well-being of the creatives involved in our projects to ensure that work is being made from a place of overflow and not burnout.

What are your future aspirations for the business?

To be a counter-cultural example that shows that ethical filmmaking can exist and should exist. I have many horror stories in my previous experience of being underpaid and overworked and having to tackle mental health issues on the job. It seems that every person I have networked with in the last year all have similar stories. This has to stop and my hope is that The Retreat Productions will be a place where people are valued regardless of the role they have, whether that be a runner or a 1st Assistant Director. Everyone deserves to be working in a place where they feel valued and appreciated.

Do you have any advice for students hoping to become entrepreneurs?

My main advice would be to just go for it! Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to do the things you want to do. For many years I waited for other people to give me permission to be invited to their table, but now I’m building my own table and making my own invitations. Yes, not everyone will be on board with what you have to say, but the tiniest seed of an idea can turn into a huge tree in no time at all - you just have to begin.

Also don’t be afraid to ask for help from people who are knowledgeable in the field you want to go into. 9 times out of 10 they're so willing to help!

How can people find out more?

Follow us on Instagram - @theretreatproductions

MA Future Media

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