BBC Academy and Middlechild Productions visited two colleges in the North East today, bringing an interactive Q&A workshop for students looking to start a career in factual filmmaking and production.

The visit was to celebrate the launch of BBC Three’s Therapy: Tough Talking documentary, which features North East actor and rapper Kema Sikazwe (aka Kema Kay). The film follows Kema’s journey through therapy as he faces his past traumas. Students at Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form got to speak with the producers about job opportunities and gaining experience for a career in television.

Students also pitched their own ideas for factual programmes, inspired by their own lives in the North East, and received feedback from television professionals. A special recorded message from Kema was also played for each college, and his therapist Hayley Tyson- Adams discussed the importance of mental health support and finding help.

This workshop is part of the BBC’s Across the UK Strategy, which seeks to invest more in training and production outside of London to better represent and serve the whole UK. This comes after the BBC announced to commit £25 million to the North East, partnering with companies like Northern Child, Middlechild’s sister company, to increase production and opportunities in the region.

Diana Hare, Commissioning Editor at the BBC, said: “Therapy: Tough Talking is a unique project. Kema’s courage, in allowing cameras in the therapy room, will help demystify and destigmatise the process. We’re grateful that we can continue to foster creativity in the North East by bringing this workshop to local colleges.”

Andrew Eastel, Creative Director at Middlechild, and the director of the documentary, said, “Everyone on the team has felt extremely privileged to have worked on Therapy: Tough Talking. To be granted the unique access to film Kema’s therapy has been both enlightening and fulfilling. By bravely allowing cameras into the room, Kema and Hayley have shone a light on the power of therapy and addressed many of the misconceptions associated with it, especially amongst younger people. We’re delighted to have this opportunity to screen the film to students in Sunderland and Hartlepool. Not just because some of them may relate to the subject of the film, but also to highlight the power of documentary filmmaking, and hopefully inspire some filmmakers of the future.”

Ruth Magnus, Director of Student Services at Education Partnership North East, which includes Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College, said: “We were pleased to be among the select number of colleges involved in the screening of the Therapy: Tough Talking documentary. Across our colleges, we have a responsibility for the positive mental health of our students.

“Through this experience, we will be able to challenge the misconceptions of mental illness, raise awareness of symptoms and demonstrate compassion.”

Watch Therapy: Tough Taking on BBC iPlayer here.

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