Documentary director Inma de Reyes

Inma (right) at work

After graduating from a film course, Inma de Reyes went on to direct in theatre. Although she enjoyed her job, she knew that she wasn’t in the right place. “I had moved from studying film to theatre because that felt more real. But when I started watching documentaries something suddenly clicked,” she says. “I found the form of storytelling I had been looking for all along.”

As she was exploring ways to transition from theatre to documentary making, a friend recommended she apply for the ScreenSkills-endorsed MA Film Directing at the Edinburgh College of Art. “Initially, I was rejected because I hadn’t produced any documentaries yet,” Inma says. “But I was able to prove that I had the right transferable skills and a solid background in theatre, so they decided to give me a chance after all.”

The degree - which focuses on documentary making - was intense and had a very practical focus. “We spent a lot of time on making our own films,” Inma says. She valued that all students were encouraged to find their individual voice and style as opposed to making the students follow a format. “Course leaders Emma Davie and Noe Mendelle were really involved. They worked as our producers and did everything they could to help us explore our own styles. There we no restrictions to what we could do, which I really loved.”

In addition to helping her develop the practical skills of filmmaking, the course also enabled Inma to connect with industry professionals. “People with real industry experience would regularly come in to talk to us about all the aspects of the filmmaking process - about the different behind-the-camera jobs involved but also about things such as pitching to festivals.” 

Inma felt that hearing from people who had walked the same path helped her understand which steps she needed to take to become a director. “It was a great way to build a network as well,” she says. “At the moment I work with one of the producers that visited our degree. We kept in touch afterwards and are now developing a feature together.”

The university also encouraged students to work with peers from other courses to widen their network. “I worked a lot with a student from another course. That was a great way to learn how to collaborate on projects and in fact, we are now developing a feature together.”

The importance of developing a network was seen when Inma successfully premiered her graduation film To Be a Torero at Sheffield Doc/Fest. She met two producers beforehand and invited them to the screening. They were so impressed that they offered to co-produce her feature-length documentary El Niño y El Traje de Luces (translation: The Boy and the Suit of Lights). The project, a co-production between the UK, USA and Spain, has since been pitched to Docs Barcelona and Edinburgh Pitch.

“When I started my degree, I couldn’t have dreamt of directing my own films this quickly,” Inma says. “It’s challenging to create your own films. You spend a lot of time thinking about the project and it can be difficult to make a living. But there are so many opportunities in Scotland and I love the community of filmmakers that I am a part of here.”

Spanish-born Inma hopes she will still make films in five years’ time, reaching bigger audiences and perhaps having a film shown in a cinema or at a big festival. “I’d love to stay in Scotland, there is such a big support network here for documentary makers, making it easy to work here.”