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Lost City

Notts Filmmaker Jay Martin to Direct BBC Documentaries

2 March 21 interview: George White

Jay Martin won awards for his political documentary REDt'Blue, which focused on Mansfield voters' decision to vote Conservative in the 2019 General Election. Now the Notts filmmaker talks to LeftLion about his upcoming trio of BBC shorts which will focus on the impact of Coronavirus on health workers, the creative industry and more... 

Congratulations on being commissioned by the BBC! How did it feel when you found out you'd be working with them?
Thank you! I was really surprised to be honest, it wasn't something I was expecting at all. Evidently some folks at the BBC had been keeping a close eye on REDt'BLUE, and were keen to produce a series of documentaries which looked at how the pandemic has affected different people in our society. 

How did the project come about?
The BBC were very keen for me to be a part of these stories, and look at subjects that were personal to me. Therefore a trilogy of documentaries was born, each focusing on a different aspect of the pandemic. This ranges from how the creative industries have been affected to the mental and physical toll working on the frontlines has had on doctors and nurses, to how MPs feel about the government's role in the pandemic and how different areas in Nottinghamshire can recover economically.

How did you come up with the focus for each of these?
I have seen friends really struggle and so wanted to give them a voice to express how those often regarded as 'forgotten' have found living through COVID. My cousin Zoe is a doctor in training, and I've spoken to her regularly to see how she's been handling working on the frontlines, so I knew there was an interesting story to be told there.

I was also keen to have a candid and honest conversation with MPs to see how they really felt about the government's response to this pandemic - and having just come off a political documentary, I was keen to revisit that world again and see if I could gain new insight into the mind of politicians during a crisis.

How important is it to tackle these subjects at this current time?
I think it's of paramount importance that each of these films is seen as we begin to exit lockdown, as a way of looking back on this past year and how different people have been affected in different ways. No doubt that in a few years time, once we return to normality, these subjects will seldom be spoken of. So getting to tell these people's stories now, and to give them a chance to get their voices heard, is really important for us to do. Fortunately for us, the BBC is keen to get these docs out ASAP!

How strong a Nottingham focus is there to the project? 
As with my previous doc, there is a huge focus on Nottinghamshire, particularly within the final film of the trilogy, 'A Tale Of Two Towns' - which looks specifically at Mansfield and Nottingham East, two areas with a very different history and economic standing. We'll also be speaking with Nottingham-based actor Michael Muyunda and ambient rock band Eyre Llew about their experiences as artists. For me it's always important to keep the focus on the mostly underrepresented communities in Nottingham, and ensure that our voices are being championed just as much as everyone else's up and down the country.

You're working with the same team from REDt'BLUE. How great will it be to get to work with those guys again?
I am so excited to work with the team on this trilogy of documentaries. The guys completely blew away all expectations I had for the film, so much so that the BBC insisted on me working with the same team again - which I was happy to do! The lads are really keen to get stuck into another documentary project after the success of our previous film, and I'm just as keen to work with them again.

REDt'BLUE was a quality documentary that was well-received. How do you look back on the project now it's wrapped up?
I really am proud of what we were able to achieve with REDt'BLUE. We've thus far taken home two 'Best Documentary Short' awards at film festivals, and have been lucky enough to have some beautifully written reviews praising our film. The scope and scale of what we wanted to achieve with REDt'BLUE grew exponentially over time, and after the success of our Kickstarter campaign last June, we were able to finish the film to such a high level of quality that I never really thought we'd be able to do.

When and where can people check out the new docs?
They will be broadcast within the next month or so on BBC Radio Nottingham. I'd urge anyone interested in keeping up to date to like our Facebook page for REDt'BLUE.

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