Katrina Smith-Jackson


Katrina Smith Jackson is one very talented lady. Not only is she heavily involved in the acting world but she’s a screenwriter, director and managing director of Amateur Shorts – an organisation  developed with the intention of providing opportunities for networking , showcasing and discovering  new talent.

April 12th will be the culmination of months of hard work, when the fruits of her latest brainchild are showcased at an event hosted by herself. I was fortunate enough to grab a few moments of her time to learn a little bit more about the woman, the project and Amateur Shorts.


Can you sum up Amateur Shorts in a sentence?

KSJ: A creative network for young aspiring filmmakers and actors, offering them the facility, ability to environment to make films for experience and recreation, giving them the capability to have their talents showcased before industry professionals at our regular screenings, fundraisers and social events.

What specifically inspired you to create and develop Amateur Shorts?

KSJ: I love networking, and I love film and the arts. I took part in a professional theatre production back in April 2011, where I was working intensively with other creatives people passionate about the arts, and I just loved and thrived in confidence and self-esteem in working within such an environment. I left the process with future collaborations to come, and relationships made on a friendship and professional level, which I think is the crucial different between success. I believe that support and collaboration is what is needed in order for young talent to grow, develop, and for these aspiring creatives to get their name out there. I wanted to create an organisation/society/a club that not only offered the space to work and gain experience in filmmaking, but also the space to network with others, make relationships on a professional and personal level, as well as teach them the value of working with others and in a team…and to have fun!


What is the ultimate goal/ethic of the organisation?

KSJ: The ultimate goal for Amateur Shorts is to offer a facility that is similar to a post-production house. Amateur Shorts aims to build a society that offers the young people apart of the organisation with equipment for filmmaking (cameras, microphones, editing computers, etc), allowing them to make films for recreation and experience/showreel CV footage, without pricing them out of working towards a career in the film industry. Amateur Shorts also thrives to create a community between these budding creatives, through having an intranet and blog for the young filmmakers and actors. Allowing them to upload profiles about them, their talents, interests, experience, etc gives them the opportunity for easy networking in the hope of them using Amateur Shorts as a platform for collaboration between them on the challenges that Amateur Shorts puts out to them.

The ultimate ethic of Amateur Shorts is that we believe the best way to get your foot into the door of the filmmaking industry, is to make as many films as you can. We go by the ethic that, every filmmaker, every actor, was once an amateur. Our aesthetics follow amateur filmmaking, where we aim to create visually challenging and inspiring films through these “cheap” and “low” aesthetics of amateur filmmaking. We believe it is crucial for young people to be engaged within high culture, especially at a time where there is so much dismantling going on within various artistic organisations, with so many barriers being put up around aspiring young people wanting a career in this unstable industry. Amateur Shorts is the first step towards dismantling these barriers.


What has been the response so far?

KSJ: The response so far has been great. Many young people have gotten in touch about taking part in films we have in pre-production and films we wish to develop on and make. However, I really want the true message, goal and ethic of the organisation, and behind the creation of Amateur Shorts, to be understood by everyone, and the importance in supporting the arts by support our organisation.


Can you tell us a little bit about any other projects on the horizon?

KSJ: We are planning to launch a project that will be a regular annual project, called Amateur Shorts Screening Showcase. For a certain number of months, those apart of this particular project will be making a short film a month for the duration of the project, for a planned film screening at the end before a public audience of film lovers and industry professionals. This project is a great opportunity for young people and their talents (filmmaking and/or acting) to get recognised by high-end people working in the film industry. It is an exclusive project separate from any other filmmaking we do (i.e. our challenges) as we have a screening at the end of it, rather than simply upload the film to our film network/channel for public viewing with the chance of it being discovered. Anyone is welcome to take part in Screening Showcase, as anyone is welcome to simply join Amateur Shorts to take part in our challenges.


Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?

KSJ: My biggest inspiration would be my followers and supporters. The encouragement they give me, and the praise they show me for my dream of breaking down and dismantling the barriers put up around getting your foot into the door of the film industry (whether though making films or performing on screen), is what truly inspires me. Not only do I want to give young people the chance to work towards their dream at the expense of not giving up everything for it, but so do other people. As time goes along, I learn more and more that people feel the same way as me, and wish for an organisation that offers the ability to do what they love (make films) at an affordable price in today’s society.


What’ s your advice to any aspiring filmmakers or anyone searching for a way into the arts?

KSJ: Simply to make as many films as you can. Grab as many opportunities to make films as you can. Network with as many people as you can. No matter your situation, where you are currently in your career or life, never turn an opportunity full of potential and success (no matter how small is may be) down, especially if you have the time and means to get involved. You never know which opportunity will be your big break.


Are there any other side projects you’re currently involved in or supported by Amateur Shorts?

KSJ: I am currently involved within the process of making a mockumentary feature film with screenwriter Carly Street, which I am very excited about. I am also taking part in two different theatre productions, “Little Foot” and “Lost And Found”, at the Albany theatre in Deptford, South East, and I will be performing on the 14th, 15th & 29th of March. From April, I will also be starting rehearsals for the London 2012 Opening Ceremonies, of which I will be dancing in. Besides these projects, I am concentrating on working on Amateur Shorts, particularly in launching Screening Showcase and building on the organisation towards our ultimate goals.


What do you hope to have achieved by Dec 31st 2012?

KSJ: By Dec 31st 2012, I hope to have launched Screening Showcase by the summer and completed the trial 6 months of the project. I also hope to have attracted more young people to Amateur Shorts, taking part in Screening Showcase and our filmmaking challenges. I also hope to have attracted the interest of others around the industry to the organisation, hoping that they see our vision and something behind the organisation, a confidence for our ethics and goals for the future.


How do you like to spend your down time?

KSJ: When I get spare time, I like to spend it script writing. Currently scriptwriting projects to do include writing the last half of the penultimate season of my TV drama (and then the last season) to which I secretly refer to with the abbreviated title “EOAGW”. I also have a play script and a feature length script ready to be written, as well as a number of others writing projects.


Why should people attend the  Amateur shorts fund-raising event?

KSJ: Because support is everything. Support us in supporting the industry we all love so much. We know Amateur Shorts can succeed, but we need your support. Screening Showcase is just the start.


How can we?

KSJ: Regular news and updates are posted on the promo blog (www.ashortsblogosphere.tumblr.com). I also tweet a lot about things, as well as having the Facebook page for Amateur Shorts. Follow me on Twitter for direct news, updates and correspondence @Katrina_SJ

Follow Amateur Shorts @AmateurShorts for news and updates too. We are also currently working on creating a mailing list for Screening Showcase. Those who want to get involved in Screening Showcase as a follower will have the chance to sign up to the mailing list for news and updates on our progress throughout the project.


Category - Filmmakers, UK film industry

The first in our 'Few moments with....' section of the site!

CStreet 05/03/2012 -