Passionate pitch earns Ramla place on prestigious training scheme


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Aspiring documentary-maker Ramla Dirie has embarked on a coveted year-long training and mentoring scheme, winning judges over with a passionate pitch.

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The Investigative Journalism MA student at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) beat hundreds of hopefuls to become one of just 15 trainees chosen for Grierson DocLab, a scheme run by The Grierson Trust.

It supports young people from across the UK who offer fresh perspectives that are not reflected on-screen or behind the scenes, and Ramla impressed the panel with a pitch that is close to her heart.

“I wanted to explore something that related to me and my community, so I pitched an idea for a current affairs documentary about the aftermath of the civil war in Somalia, exploring the young Somali diaspora’s identity and their home away from home,” said the 22-year-old.

“Too often countries are branded as ‘war-torn’, but we hardly explore the people who yearn to go back to these countries because it's the only place they feel they belong.”

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As part of DocLab, Ramla will benefit from a number of opportunities, including attending the Sheffield Doc/Fest, developing her shooting and editing skills, attending the Grierson Awards in November, networking and mentoring.

Trainees will also have the chance to take up a paid work placement for two or four weeks, as well as to apply for one of two Netflix-supported placements that will last for three months.

Ramla said: “The Grierson Trust has done really well to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic and even though many of these experiences have been moved online, it’s still such a fantastic opportunity.

“I’m doing my best to network and take in everything that comes my way. I feel like the scheme will definitely put me in a better position for graduating.”

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Equality and human rights underpin all of Ramla’s projects, as she strives to find ways of better representing people from minority groups.

“I’m from an underrepresented background too and now that I’m working in the media I can help give people like myself a voice,” she said.

“I’m a Somali woman who was born in the Netherlands and moved to the UK in 2005, so I’m an EU immigrant. I’m also Muslim, so I carry three different identities that are not celebrated as they should be, but I know they are unique selling points and that they make me a better journalist.”

Ramla first graduated from DMU’s English Language and Media degree. The modules in journalism and broadcast journalism are what made her want to pursue her MA.

She said: “I had the best time during my undergraduate degree at DMU so I knew I had nothing to lose by doing an MA here.”

Making it financially possible was a 50 per cent discount on her tuition fees, thanks to DMU’s Vice-Chancellor’s 2020 Scholarships. Ramla was also awarded a £5,000 bursary towards living costs by Channel 4, which the MA is developed in collaboration with.

“DMU’s Investigative Journalism MA has given me confidence in my ideas,” she said.

“Learning how to go out, find a story, film and edit it – these are all impressive practical skills to have. I’ve also learned about so many other aspects of making documentaries, such as writing pitches and backing them up with advanced research.

“We’ve had workshops with some of the biggest names in the industry and a two-week work placement with a production company in London was invaluable. All of these opportunities and the hands-on experiences you get are real highlights of the MA.”

Connect with Ramla on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Posted on Tuesday 15th September 2020

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