Calling the Shots are excited to announce our latest partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine.

Since May we’ve been working hard on a series of nine short films, collectively known as… Animated Thinking.
Each of the 5-6-minute films explores new ideas from academic researchers across the UK, brought to life by early-career professional animators, underlining Calling the Shots’ reputation for nurturing outstanding emerging talent and creative collaboration with partners in higher education.
The Animated Thinking films provide diverse perspectives on propaganda photography in Nazi Germany, the origins of a medieval ‘Witch Bottle’, the history of the brown hare in Britain and the nature of grief during the pandemic.
Other films explore the experience of autistic girls and women, the history of visits to Britain by the Indigenous people of North America, corruption in Ancient Greece and Rome, women’s publishing in Mexican prisons and the impact on women’s lives of new high-rise housing in Mumbai.
Production took place throughout lockdown and presented many challenges for the animators and producers. Animated Thoughts producer at Calling the Shots, Holly Churches, says, “Creating this project from home, during lockdown, could have felt like a quite lonely experience, but luckily working with such talented and creative people it has never felt that way, there has been a real sense of teamwork.  There is certainly something fantastic about all of these films being made out of peoples living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens… and the incredibly hard work that they have all put into them is absolutely clear in the finished product.”
Animated Thinking is the latest in a series of exciting collaborations between Calling the Shots and university researchers over the last few years.
In 2018 Calling the Shots partnered the University of Exeter on their Wellcome Trust project Exploring Diagnosis, working with autistic artists from Canada, the US and the UK to teach animation skills and produce three original films featuring the voices and experiences of autistic adults. From 2015-2019 Calling the Shots worked with the University of Bath and Grade II-listed Arnos Vale Cemetery on the Future Cemetery project, funded by AHRC’s REACT programme, exploring new ways to connect cemeteries to local and wider communities through original arts commissions and digital interpretation.  In 2015 Calling the Shots worked with the University of Bristol on the AHRC Connected Communities project, Know Your Bristol, which saw multiple communities across Bristol co-producing work with researchers.
You can watch the Animated Thinking films by visiting BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine. A new film will be released every day for the next nine days.

Meet Filmmaker and New Creative, Anna Mouzouri

Anna Mouzouri is a third-year Film Student, with a passion for getting across important issues in a humorous and surrealist way.   She has directed three short films, with her last documentary being nominated at the Royal Television Society’s Student Awards. Her latest piece, Fruity is a no-dialogue coming of age short comedy about a lonely lesbian plagued with intrusive thoughts of fruit whenever she attempts to masturbate.

We interviewed Anna to find out what it’s like being a part of the BBC New Creatives scheme. Keep scrolling to learn more.

How did you get onto the New Creatives programme? 

I applied in 2019 with a different project and was shortlisted but I didn’t get commissioned. The producers provided me with very useful feedback and although I was still downhearted, I then applied again the following round. I couldn’t have done it without attending a one to one meeting with Calling the Shots to discuss the idea. It’s important to read the brief and cater your project to that.

What was the programme like? 

It was amazing and very useful. The training sessions were great, especially in Marketing. I thought I knew enough about social media and writing about my project, but it benefitted me way more than I thought. It’s cool enough to be commissioned by BBC and have that platform, but having professionals with you the whole time in case you needed any help with paperwork (Trello! yay,) weekly advice on my script – it helped everything go SO insanely smooth.

What was the mentoring process like? 

The mentoring process and what I learnt is something that I’ll take through the industry with me forever. It was my personal highlight from the scheme. It is such a great thing that New Creatives scheme and Calling the Shots in particular offer – I didn’t expect it to be as helpful as it was.

What did you take away from the experience? E.g skills

Working within a crew on a professional level is an important skill I learnt, keeping everyone updated with the film, keeping everyone together, making sure everyone has the information they need. I did things I’d never done before, like when I have casted actors in the past, I did via groups etc. But this time I used a Casting Director and dealt with agents. I also feel much more confident in scriptwriting. I wouldn’t of been able to get to this point without my mentor Alice Seabright. I always had zero confidence in this, but her consistent help and encouragement was so great.

Has the New Creatives scheme helped you further your career? 

Completely. I feel more prepared for the industry, especially from the training sessions, and I’m also ready to pitch my ideas to others. I’m ready to make more and more content – my next step is to find funding and collaborators for my next project which I’m excited about.

What message would you have for others considering a scheme like this? 

Do it! It’s such a great opportunity. Giving young creatives a platform is so important and I love seeing what everyone else does with the opportunity. It’s also great to expand your network of creative friends and potential collaborators outside of University courses, work and school. I’ve met some great people.

Find out more about Anna’s work, below.

Instagram: @annamouzouri


Twitter: @mouzourianna

Meet Filmmaker and New Creative, Elias Williams

Elias Williams is a Bristol-based filmmaker and founder of online media platform, As part of the BBC New Creatives scheme, he created My First Love Bite, a film telling the story of a young woman’s last moments in human form before turning into a zombie. We interviewed him to hear about his experience on the New Creatives scheme.

How did you get onto the New Creatives programme?

I applied via the Calling the Shots website and was fortunately selected after the shortlisting process. I’d applied a couple of times before and not made it, but I’m glad that it was my final idea that earned the successful selection.

What was the programme like?

Overall I’ve really enjoyed it and I feel very grateful for the opportunity. It’s been great working with professional crew despite the limitations of Covid restrictions. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a talented director of photography, producer, editor, make up artist and production designer, all of which have supported me through the process.

What was the mentoring process like?

The mentoring process was very useful. I was lucky enough to get partnered with a previous lecturer of mine so we already had good chemistry. My mentor was very helpful in improving my initial script and making useful notes in postproduction.

What did you take away from the experience? E.g skills

I have definitely improved my filmmaking skills throughout the experience. I have learned how to direct a film effectively within Covid limitations and I have learned a lot about scriptwriting. I have also learned a lot about the importance of communicating with my producer and the rest of the crew in order to realise my vision for the project.

Has the New Creatives scheme helped you further your career? 

Yes, the New Creatives scheme has helped me further my career insofar as that I now have another film commission under my belt. Future employers will be able to see that I can produce a film on a budget, thus it will enable me to apply for more prestigious filmmaking opportunities in the future. It has also improved my filmmaking skills which will inevitably have a positive impact on my future career.

What message would you have for others considering a scheme like this? 

I would say go for it! Make sure you have an idea that you believe in and are passionate about. Also, have a reasonable idea of how you can get the project made. Having a budget doesn’t mean you can sit back and let others do the work, but it will give you the freedom to express your creativity in new and exciting ways.

Find out more about Elias’s work at


It’s official! In February 2021, we will be running our eighth national BFI animation camp online – as part of BFI Film Academy, the national Department for Education and Lottery funded scheme for young people with a passion for film.

We are on the look-out now for 25 young animators from across the UK (aged 16-19) to join us online for our national animation camp. The dates of the camp are 15th – 19th February 2021, but don’t delay, applications close on the 7th of December. See our Animation Camp page for more information.



Meet Calling the Shots Mentor and Filmmaker, Mike Parker

Meet Mike Parker, one of the Mentors at Calling the Shots. Having been a Producer for 30 years, creating documentaries, drama, comedy, high-end TV and feature films, he brings a wealth of experience to his role. Mike is also the course leader for the Film Production BA (Hons) course at the University of Gloucestershire. We caught up with him to find out about his experiences as a Mentor on the BBC New Creatives scheme.

What does mentoring on the New Creatives scheme involve? 

I enjoy working closely with the Artists to develop their ideas and to ensure that their creative vision can be realised within the budget and time frame to the highest possible standard.

How are you matched up on the New Creatives scheme?

Usually I am approached by the artists who have been selected for the scheme or by Calling the Shots. I often also help develop their ideas before they are selected by Calling the Shots. As course leader for the Film production course at the University of Gloucestershire, we can provide professional facilities and our students usually provide all the crews on these projects.

Which New Creatives projects have you worked on? 

Wake Up Britain, Trigger Bang, Fruity and I have recently been asked to work on These Lines that divide us.

What is the best part of being a New Creatives Mentor? 

It is wonderful to be able to help the new generation of filmmakers develop their voice as filmmakers and to help them through what is usually, their first experience of working professionally, within the industry.

What is your favourite memory from working on the New Creatives scheme? 

The best time is always in the final mixes and grading sessions at Films@59 where all their hard work comes together, and they see the finished film in all their glory!

You can find out more about Mike on Facebook at,

Or visit his film production Course page at,

Go behind the scenes of Trigger Bang, one of Mike’s very first New Creatives projects. 

Meet Writer and New Creative, Zia Holloway

I am a young screenwriter whose audio drama, Burn Your Wishes – which chronicles the annual fireworks display of a rural council estates last originals – was commissioned by the BBC and produced by Calling The Shots. Now that the process has come to an end, I can reflect upon my time as a New Creative and share my personal experience of a scheme that is granting people like me the chance to do something amazing.

What is so special about the New Creatives scheme is that each cohort is made up of brilliant people who come from a plethora of backgrounds. My background is in screenwriting, so this was the first time I had ever been given full creative control over my script.  It was very new to me to be part of the journey every step of the way and I was overjoyed to move beyond the writing desk into the realm of directing. Over the course of several months I have written a script, cast my audio drama, successfully navigated the territory of production and enhanced my story through post production into a final project that I am immensely proud of, all during a global pandemic.

The scheme offers its New Creatives the funding, mentoring, training, and support to take their ideas to screen. This was a valuable opportunity for me to work with a renowned production company who has been developing talent and engaging with new filmmakers for years, and get that elusive first credit to my name. The Calling the Shots team tailored the training and support to my strengths and experience so that I was never left feeling out of my depth. There was constant support from people ‘in the know’ who were always happy to answer even my most basic questions – believe me I had a few!  What was great about the process was that I was given the space and time by the production to focus entirely on the creative process and elevate my idea to the best possible place it could be. It’s rare to be given such freedom to work on a passion project and this is what sets the scheme apart from other opportunities out there.

The mentorship process was as vital to me as the experience of production. I was mentored by prolific playwright, Mike Akers who helped me with my script and showed me the benefits of audio drama and the creative freedom that the medium allows. Yet, in a way, everyone was a mentor to me including the producer Anna Lea, project manager Sophie Freeman, and executive producer Jeremy Routledge. I was privileged to learn from these industry experts and ultimately be inspired by their suggestions and advice.

Every day as a New Creative was a new lesson and I feel that I have gained an immeasurable amount of knowledge and confidence from the scheme.  The process has equipped me with some important tools that I know I can apply in future and I now have another experience behind me to enable me to continue my career in the film and television industry. I would encourage anyone with a unique idea and a passion for the creative industries to get involved. But understand that this is more than a funding opportunity – immerse yourself in the process, be open to change and progression, and make the most of everything the New Creatives scheme offers.

Meet Poet and New Creative, Tom Stockley

Tom Stockley is an artist, poet, community activist and one of our Round Two New Creatives. As part of the scheme he created an audio piece, The New Wild West, which examines the forgotten history of Knowle West and the local heroes fighting for its future.

We interviewed Tom to shed light on what it’s like being a part of the BBC New Creatives scheme. Keep scrolling to learn more.

How did you get onto the New Creatives programme? 

I’ve been making audio work in different forms for a while so when I saw this programme that had a framework of support and a brief to clarify some of my ideas, both creative and socio-political, it seemed like a good match. I’m glad they thought so too, that doesn’t always happen.

What was the programme like? 

I’m used to either working on my practice freely or delivering fairly short, sharp commissions. So to be working within a fairly long term process of workshopping, shaping ideas and a piece being slowly sculpted from many angles was a good process for me. It felt a bit like school again, although not in a bad way.

What was the mentoring process like? 

My mentor was Bristol-based poet, writer and producer Rob Mitchell. The whole process was super personal. It felt really well matched and it was massively validating to have someone who could offer encouragement, critique and understanding of my process. It was a big job to do, chasing after my neurotic twists and turns over pints and meeting rooms, but they did a good job.

What did you take away from the experience?

I now have a less cavalier attitude towards creating larger scale works and a more realistic idea of the project management and collaborative side of things. I’m trying to maintain that punk spirit which is important to me as an artist, but learn how to dress that up to make work for bigger platforms. Like a trojan horse of socialist-leaning creativity.

Has the New Creatives scheme helped you further your career? 

There’s certainly some buzzwords that help on my creative CV. ‘Audio production for the BBC’ will probably wet some whistles. But it’s also helped me clarify what kind of work I want to make and how I want to make it.

What message would you have for others considering a scheme like this?

Do it! But be very clear about your ideas and values and don’t waver too much. Listen to the advice and the experience of others, but ultimately only you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. You are the artist and contrary to how it might feel, the world needs more of those.

Find out more about Toms work at: www.tomstockley/

Twitter and Instagram: @tstheidiot