Award-winning filmmaker Bim Ajadi’s credits include co-directing a film for Channel 4 shown at the London Paralympic Ceremony in 2012. With a media career spanning almost 15 years, Colin Hambrook asked Ajadi about his professional journey so far and his ongoing commitment to nurturing fellow deaf talent, as he prepares to deliver workshops at the BBC’s See Hear Weekend in Bristol.
Bim Ajadi told Dao: "I never originally set out to pursue a career in television, but I have now worked as a freelancer in the media for nearly 15 years - and I love it. I originally graduated with a 2:1 in Product Design, but found it difficult to secure a job in that area, so looked around for alternatives."
"After some self tuition, I moved into 3D animation for a while, before being offered the opportunity to be part of C4's 4Talent scheme. This was where my first real media training began..."
"I gained experience as an assistant editor and in-house runner for several independent post-production companies. From here, I went on to work for the Deaf TV magazine series, Vee TV, as an off-line editor from its first series in 2000 to its final episode in 2007. I also worked as an in-house editor for numerous music videos and live performances for E4 Music and MTV."
"In the early stages of my career, I only directed and dabbled with self shooting on a very small scale. I owned a basic camera and would film anything from deaf football promos to signed song music videos."
"I never received any formal training, but taught myself through watching videos on YouTube and Vimeo. It was not until several years later that I became more serious about directing and started to really enjoy it."
"Through the BBC Extend Scheme, I became an assistant AP for BBC's See Hear. I've since worked for them as a freelance Director/AP for the past 8 years. I’ve produced several 30-minute specials, covering topics such as Black History Month, London 2012 Olympics, as well as short VT films."
"For the past two years I have loved worked with deaf young people at a deaf film summer camp in USA. Last year we produced a music video which received over 1.5 million Youtube views!"
"Probably my biggest highlight to date has been co-directing Look Up with Ted Evans (a hugely talented deaf film maker) which was shown at the London Paralympic 2012 opening ceremony. There were over 70,000 people watching the premier in the incredible Paralympic stadium - a real goosebumps moment!"
Despite Ajadi’s glittering CV and substantial list of achievements, there have been a number of challenges along the way, some of which will be all too common experiences for other deaf and disabled professionals pursuing a career in the media and beyond. Ajadi explains:
"One of the main challenges throughout my career has been the need to prove myself to hearing employers and hearing clients; I often have to convince them that I'm as good as any hearing film maker within the industry before they will employ me."
"Although this constant drive to prove myself can be exhausting, I also believe it has made me stronger and even hungrier to show people what I can do. It has served to increase my passion to produce high quality films which both deaf and hearing audiences can engage with."
"What is rewarding, and is an element that continues to be, is feedback from audiences that they enjoy my films and that they provoke debate. Although I work predominantly on deaf-related films and programmes, I always try and make them to reach out to a much wider, mainstream audience; I hope they are just as thought provoking and stimulating to hearing audiences, as well as deaf."
Drawing on his own extensive experience, Ajadi has long shown a commendable dedication for handing on his skills and knowledge to aspiring deaf people looking to get a foot on the media ladder. His latest venture will be delivering workshops as part of the BBC’s See Hear Weekend 2015:
"I’m a huge advocate for nurturing new deaf talent. I know firsthand what it’s like to be new in the media world and feel unsure how to progress in such a competitive industry. Having the passion and drive for media is hugely important, but so is being steered in the right direction and being given the support and encouragement needed to move forward."
"I hope to impart some of my enthusiasm for media, and also to pass on the message that deaf people can achieve what they want if they are prepared to work hard and remain committed and passionate about their goals."
"In the workshop, the young people will be taught the basics of what is expected of a typical BBC Assistant Producer - this will entail script writing, shooting and editing their own film. The students will work in teams and will have the opportunity to partake in the 90-second short film challenge. It will very much be a hands-on process where they will learn and develop through working together as a team."