BFI NETWORK Creative Production Weekender 2023 - Participants

Meet the participants selected for our 2023 Creative Production Weekender. Taking place over the course of one weekend in September, this programme aims to discover a cohort of emerging producing talent who are interested in developing their skills as creative producers and applying to future rounds of the BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund.


Aaliyah Yaqub

Aaliyah is an RTS award-winning Production Manager in short film. After graduating from NFTS, Aaliyah went on to work as a Production Coordinator in sports for the Premier League, and continues to work in short film. Her graduation projects both won RTS awards, including the animation Curiosa, which has been screened, nominated and won awards at film festivals across the world.

She has worked on many shorts as a Production Manager, including a few for BFI and most recently for Disney Imagine’s short film slate being released this Autumn.

Working in production, Aaliyah has a vast understanding of the logistics and planning behind films but is looking to explore more creative storytelling. She is also a member of BAFTA Connect’s 2023 cohort and previously a recipient of BBC Studios and Sargent-Disc Scholarships.

Amber Hyams

Amber Hyams is the producer of Watersprite Film Festival – the world’s largest student film festival. She delivered the 2023 festival in under 6 weeks, hosting 4,000 attendees from 40 countries across a weekend of free masterclasses supporting emerging filmmakers from around the world. She is currently working towards the 2024 Festival which will be the biggest Watersprite to date. She is also development assistant to Hilary Bevan Jones, award-winning producer and first female chair of BAFTA. In her own time, Amber is producing her first short film Troubled Waters and is developing her first feature screenplay with her writing partner.

Collum Smith

Collum is co-founder and producer at Soho-based Soup of the Day Pictures. Having originally trained in Clinical Psychology, Collum changed career paths after working in the British Film Institute’s bar, where he developed relationships with filmmakers. His work includes Picturehouse Cinema’s dog-friendly screenings advertisement and various short films. Upcoming productions include a feature film in development and advertising for American Truck Simulator.

Elle Brown

Elle Brown is a Northern Irish, Brighton-based film producer and director. After a ten-year marketing career she left the world of corporate business for film school. She studied filmmaking at the Screen and Film School in Brighton, then producing at The National Film & Television School (NFTS).

Elle is passionate about equality and her projects reflect this with a focus on female/queer protagonists and storylines. To date, she has produced and directed two award-winning short films, Keys and Before You Go and co-produced a third, Happy Death Day, which is currently in post-production. Between producing her own slate of projects Elle also works as a Shooting Producer Director in unscripted TV. She’s currently developing her first feature.

Fey Okege

Fey Okege a British-Nigerian Filmmaker with a passion for producing, writing and directing films. She started off as an aspiring actress, but soon realised she found greater purpose behind the camera and bringing people together to make insightful films. In 2020 she set up a small production group based in the UK called A New Nation Entertainment (ANNE) that makes narrative films from underrepresented perspectives.

Grace Kettle

Grace Kettle is an Essex-based film producer early in her career. Following her experience in student film and theatre at university, she is currently producing the short film Little Shadow with writer-director Nora Naoumi. Her work to date centres the impact of trauma on the self and on relationships with others, but she looks forward to expanding her interests in the future.

Jessica M Riches

Jessica Riches worked in technology and politics for 10 years before moving into film and TV. She’s passionate about telling stories focused on complicated women trying to change the world as a way to articulate exactly why the world needs changing.

As a screenwriter, Jess was signed by Mark Brennan at United Agents after being nominated for Edinburgh TV Festival’s New Voice Awards. Her first short, Beautiful Things, starring Tallulah Haddon and Tom Stourton, is starting its run on the festival circuit.

Jess is one of three founders of Messy Collective, an inclusive new group dedicated to nurturing and showcasing work by emerging writers. With over 250 members, they are currently artists in residence at The Glitch Theatre (part of VAULT creative arts), have partnered with the BIFA-qualifying Women X festival for 2023, and run social events at arts members club Vout-O-Reenee’s.

Koushiki Chowdhury

Koushiki is a student from India pursuing Film & Literature at the University of Essex, with a profound enthusiasm for genuine narratives and rich diversity that deeply resonates with viewers.

More than just an aspiring producer, Koushiki is also a filmmaker and critic who thrives on collaborative learning and hands-on experience. Koushiki’s journey started with the independent documentary short, What is Home? and the launch of the blog and film portfolio The Voice Within Me, which dives into everything that stirs their passion.

Koushiki’s commitment to production took them on a year-long internship at Disney, where they worked as a Creative Intern with the Original Productions team (specifically, the UK Disney+ Commissioning team). That experience provided invaluable insights into script development and the intricacies of the television industry.

Koushiki is eagerly looking forward to connecting with like-minded enthusiasts, gaining insights, and contributing to the creative space!

Luis Almonacid

Luis is an aspiring producer working across theatre and live events. He studied English at the University of Cambridge with a particular focus on film and visual culture. Currently, he is participating in the Somerset House Creative Industry Placements scheme which involves two six-month placements within the creative community at Somerset House. Luis was the Junior Press Assistant at Bread & Butter PR and worked for clients across the cultural industries: spanning from theatre and dance to festivals and venues. Now, he is the Production Assistant for the Live Events team at Somerset House Trust working on Summer Series, Summer in the Courtyard, and Skate at Somerset House.

Lynn Song

Lynn Song is a Korean-Japanese film and XR producer based in the UK. Beginning her career in Tokyo, she worked in programming at Short Shorts Film Festival, and projects, events and partnerships at arts organisation VIPO, where she collaborated with Berlinale EFM and Tribeca. Her produced films and XR projects have been selected at IFFR Rotterdam Lab, Asian American International Film Festival, Sunny-Side of the Docs and Venice Production Bridge. She is particularly interested in working with other Asian filmmakers to redefine multicultural identities and elevate Asian-origin voices on the global stage.

Nikita Karia

Nikita is an arts producer currently based at new writing venue, the Bush Theatre, working across the theatre and studio to deliver the artistic programme. At the Bush she lead-produced the 50th studio season and is currently producing the remount of Anoushka Lucas’ Elephant (Best Stage Debut nominee 2023). Before this Nikita was a freelance producer working for companies such as Chinese Arts Now and Spies Like Us Theatre, producing award-winning fringe theatre on the festival circuit and internationally. She is a trustee of the Pleasance Theatre Trust and is on the shortlisting panel for the Edinburgh Untapped Award (2022 & 2023). Nikita is also a regular contributor at The Stage.

Nipa Islam

Nipa’s background is in commercial media, having worked for a studio and a number of production companies in various roles in distribution, research and marketing. Nipa now juggles writing as well as working for a local education company supporting young people with learning disabilities/difficulties. Looking forward to the BFI NETWORK South East’s Creative Production Weekender, Nipa is excited to learn more about producing.

Patrick Crellin

Patrick Crellin is a neurodivergent writer/director/producer from the Isle of Man who is now based in the South East. After graduating from the University of York’s Film and TV Production course, Patrick and his partner, Bethany White, moved to the Isle of Man where they set up their production company Dark Avenue Film in 2018. Since then, Patrick has produced low-budget short films and documentaries which have won awards at various festivals worldwide. His most recent documentary, Inspiration, is BIFA-qualified.

Recently, Patrick has dipped his toes into producing for other creatives, starting with the micro-short poetry film Snow in 2021 and The Auteur, a micro-short horror thriller that is in post-production. Patrick is looking to level up his producing work to larger-scale, more ambitious genre films, and is currently building a slate with exciting creatives across the UK.

Phoebe Yemi Ara

Phoebe Yemi Ara is a BFI x ICO Emerging Producer (2021) and London Library Emerging Writer (2021/22) of screenplays and fiction. She was selected in 2021, as one of Edinburgh TV Festival’s The Network, designed to identify bright new talent in film and TV. She has worked within the scripted development teams at Sony Pictures Television International, and Sky Studios. In addition, she serves on advisory groups seeking to improve diversity within the film/TV industry.

Tom Thurgood

Tom Thurgood is a producer based in Essex. Originally from the Midlands, he is passionate about producing work that tells regional stories in new ways. He produced the short film Forgive Me, Father by writer and director Doreen Nasimbwa, starring Mimî M Khayisa (The Witcher) and Steve Toussaint (House of the Dragon).

Tom works at Netflix as Production Coordinator for Original Series, UK. Prior to this he worked in freelance production on scripted drama and comedy projects for HBO, BBC, Sky and Channel 4. He also worked at Carnival Films as business and legal affairs coordinator. He is an alumni member of the Screenskills Make-a-Move programme as well as the Television Workshop, Nottingham.

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