Laura Taylor | Colleague Spotlight
Course Director for MA Screenwriting, New Course Development and Head of Sound at the Northern Film School, Laura is a filmmaker interested in immersive storytelling and creative technologies. Before coming to LBU she spent time working in Television as a production sound recordist and sound editor. Laura is currently finishing a feature documentary about living with Dementia and is a member of the Institute of Professional Sound the Audio Engineering Society and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Tell us a bit about you and what led you to working with Carnegie School of Education
I graduated from the Northern Film School in 2001 after gaining a bursary to study part time at post graduate level. I went straight on to work in TV for a number of years as a freelance sound recordist which was a fantastic job. I had a really great time travelling the world and working on some fascinating content, it was incredibly challenging which I loved, and no day was the same, however I felt that Higher Education had transformed my life and was something I was always drawn back to. The Northern Film School has a great international reputation, links with industry have always been really strong and my specialist area of audio is a real strength of our school, (which sadly not always the case in Film Education or the industry as a whole) so when I was initially asked to come back as a guest lecturer, I was really keen to start sharing my experiences and knowledge with the students.
What makes you passionate about your work around film and why is it important?
The Film and TV industry is an incredible place to work, vibrant and exciting. But there is so much to do in terms of equality and inclusivity, I am passionate that the decision makers in this sector should reflect all of our society, things need to change drastically and we can all be involved in making this happen.
I am also in the final stages of my PhD which combines my interest in technology and my background in Television, and specifically how developments in technology impact storytelling. I hope to make a meaningful contribution to the research around the ever-increasing amount of content we are able to access from our own personal spaces and the impact this has on the industry. More generally I am also fascinated by the options available to experiment in the VR, AR, MR world at the moment, and the fantastic opportunities this creates for our next generation of students.
How is collaboration integral to your work, and what are one or two collaborations that have been most meaningful to you?
One of my more recent roles has been to develop a new MA in Screenwriting in our school. According to a report published by the Writers Guild UK in 2018,
I worked with Dr Anna Zaluczkowska with an aim to develop a course designed to reverse this trend, discussions of inclusivity and inclusion must remain at the heart of the curriculum and even small changes can make a difference.
I also recently worked with Dr Matt Green from the Leeds School of Arts Music and Sound subject area as part of a collaboration to create a 360° film with an immersive soundtrack for a Scottish rewilding charity called ‘Trees for Life’ designed to be watched on a VR headset for those people that may not be able to access the Scottish Highlands in person. A particular highlight was recording meadow pipits on a warm summer’s day near Loch Ness, to collaborate on something that is usually a solitary activity for me was really special.
Only 16% of all working screenwriters in film are female. Female writers in TV, while comparatively better represented, remain in the minority – the percentage of television episodes written by women stands at only 28%.
What achievements in this area have you been most proud of while working in the Northern Film School?
The best thing about this job is seeing graduates achieve their goals whether it be them winning the most recent RTS Yorkshire Student awards for sound, getting in touch long after they have graduated to find that they have landed their dream job, or seeing their names on the credits of my latest Netflix binge! At the moment a number of our graduates work in the sound department at Emmerdale and I’m so happy to see that they get to do what they love every day!
Anything else you'd like to mention?
We really need to make great strides in accepting women into the technical areas of filmmaking such and sound and cinematography. As a woman from a working class background I feel that things haven’t change nearly enough since I started my career in the television industry. Empowering young women to believe that a role in creative tech is for them is at the heart of my teaching. Creative technology has never been more exciting than it is now, opportunities in Yorkshire are really gaining momentum and I’m really excited that the Northern Film School is part of this. In my role as Course Director I spend a lot of time thinking about what’s coming next for the Film and TV industry our relationships with local companies means that we can be actively involved in the shaping of things to come.
Laura is currently Head of Sound and Course Director at the Northern Film School in the Leeds School of Arts, Leeds Beckett University and has been a University Teacher Fellow since 2010.