The next generation of creatives is emerging from colleges, universities and film schools around the country – and we’re proud to support them here at ERA.
One of these young film-makers is Akil Higgins, who is making a name for himself as a producer and has had notable success with his first documentary.
Titled The Cut, it’s set in ‘100% U’, a black barbershop in Walthamstow. It’s the very place where Akil himself had his hair cut for years. Proprietor Gareth is a larger than life character who has been in charge for almost three decades. He believes in giving his customers a good haircut, good service – and good energy!
His customers certainly have plenty of the latter and conversations are animated. The Cut lets people speak for themselves and they have plenty to say.
“I was sitting there one day waiting to get my hair cut and I realised that all around me, everybody was having these amazing conversations,” says Akil. “People walking by outside would look in, and seem fascinated by what was going on”.
As a student on the University of Bedfordshire’s TV Production course, Akil was on the lookout for a subject for a short film – and realised he’d found it. Teaming up with fellow student Kenneth Kangethe, the pair became regular resident filmmakers at Garth’s shop.
As with every film-maker, Akil takes his inspiration from the work of others who have gone before him.
“I used to love programmes like The Chicken Shop – which is really all about the people and their stories – and The Desmonds was an inspiration, too, because it was the first programme I remember with an all-black cast.”
Before enrolling at the University of Bedfordshire, Akil was a media studies student at Waltham Forest College. Both educational establishments have an ERA licence and students can view clips or programmes recommended by their tutors and gain insights into how professional film-makers hone their skills.
Akil certainly made the cut in more ways than one, as his documentary won the Learning on Screen Award 2017 for best Student Documentary, a category sponsored by ERA.
Now a graduate, he’s keen to continue producing – even though that wasn’t his original plan.
“I didn’t want to be a producer or director when I started the course – I didn’t feel that I wanted that much power.” He confesses. “But now I’ve realised that when you’re passionate about something, you’ve got to give it your all. And I don’t want anyone else in charge but me!”