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Ayrshire students spearhead powerful new BBC film about disability and inclusion

A thought-provoking short film about disability and inclusion has been produced for the BBC – by a team of talented students from the University of the West of Scotland’s Ayr campus.

Four undergraduate students – from the university’s highly-regarded School of Business and Creative Industries – produced the feature for the 50:50 Equality Project, aimed at increasing diversity within the corporation.

BA Filmmaking and Screenwriting student Keir Jarvie, from Thorntonhall, South Lanarkshire; BA Broadcast Production TV and Radio students Liska Pleines, from Ayr, Jamie Leckie, from Largs, and Troon’s Rachel Watson, had their idea commissioned after pitching to a BBC panel, beating others from across the country.

The film looks at the work undertaken by the BBC 50:50 project, exploring how it has increased the representation of disabled people across the organisation. It also examines hidden disabilities, such as autism.

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Broadcast Production lecturer Kate Cotter, who guided the students through the pitching process, said: “Working with the BBC’s 50:50 project is a fantastic opportunity, both for us as an institution, and, more importantly, for our students.

“It really encourages our students to consider the importance of diversity in their work. We hope this experience helps them develop skills which will stay with them for the rest of their career.”

She added that she was impressed by the quality of the film they produced, saying: “I am genuinely delighted by the quality of their film. It is incredibly thoughtful and, and powerfully communicates the 50:50 message.”

The students, who did not all know one another before starting work on their pitch, said they were proud of what they had achieved.

Broadcast Production student Liska, who directed the film, said: “This was a brilliant opportunity, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to highlight the work done as part of this important initiative.

“The 50:50 project has done so much to include people with disabilities in the conversation surrounding inclusivity in the industry.

“We all learned a lot from working on this project, not only from the perspective of pitching and skills, but also from the perspective of how impactful representation is, and continues to be.”

The students were supervised by BBC News correspondent and 50:50 team member Sean Dilley.

Rachel, the film’s producer, said: “We’re all really grateful to Sean for the support he provided throughout.

“Not only did we learn a lot from him, but his positivity and encouragement helped elevate not only the film, but the team as a whole.”

The short film is now available to watch online here.

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