Thomas Shepley's Creative Break

Posted on: 08th February 2017 at 00:00
Posted by: PANDA
Location: Greater Manchester
Discipline: Multi-disciplinary

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Creative Breaks is PANDA's creative work programme which we deliver in partnership with Union Street Media Arts. The programme seeks to develop key skills and qualities appropriate to working in the arts; marketing, event promotion, digital media, campaigning and project management but transferable to self-employment and many other career paths. 

Creative Breaks has been running since 2009. Since then, PANDA has helped over 200 people gain employment skills and professional experience in the arts sector.  We're delighted to announce that we have secured a third year of funding for Creative Breaks. We would like to thank AGMA and Union Street Media Arts for their continued support and look forward to helping more people gain the skills and experience required to gain employment in the arts.

Our 2016 programme has recently drawn to a close and we spoke to Thomas Shepley to share his experience.

After completing his BTEC in Creative Media at Bury College, Thomas applied to be part of Creative Breaks 2016 to gain further experience in film and media production, but he gained more than just that. Thomas was also the winner of the exclusive Creative Breaks Best Progress Award, as voted for by the participants.  Thomas said:

'Filming the Rochdale Pioneer’s museum itself was really interesting and not just because it’s a great museum but because no one seemed to know about it. This made the making of the film not just interesting but important.

There were frustrations with software compatibility – meaning I virtually had to start again from scratch at one point. Certainly, in retrospect we could have made some control decisions about post production which may have meant that I didn’t have to stay up until 7am to finish the edit!

I learned patience – with the editing! It was good to realize that all those skills I thought I’d forgotten came back to me – I was amazed at how much of Final Cut Pro I remembered!  I surprised myself too at how committed I was – otherwise why was I working through the night? My confidence increased overall but particularly in pitching my own ideas to the team. I definitely learned to appreciate the value of a team and I enjoyed working with everyone, but particularly with Joe who did the sound with us. I’m grateful for the film-making experience but mostly I suppose what’s changed, and what I’m grateful for, is my own increased confidence.

Overall I wish we’d made a longer film – we had so much more in the way of content that we could have included. But as to the presentation – nervous though I was – I think we nailed it!

When my name was called out as the winner of the award, disbelief! – when my name was called I was thinking ‘is there anybody else in the room called Thomas?’ All I want to say is thank you. I’ve never won a trophy before, for anything. Thank you for thinking of me, thank you for considering me and for giving me this.

Looking to the future, I need more experience and training around media and filming to discover what my best ‘fit’ might be. For me, shyness has always been a barrier and although I know I grew as a person during the Creative Breaks project, confidence is still something I need to work on. I have a work mentor – Hayley (Talent Match/Groundworks) – who is looking into different training possibilities for me. I think I want more experience in camera work, that’s where I want to concentrate at the moment.

I’ve also written an opening episode for a TV drama and I’m working on the Pitch document. I’ve sent it to Chris [Salt] (PANDA industry mentor) to look at and we’re going to meet up in a couple of weeks to discuss it further. Maybe script writing is something I can also work on.'


We wish Thomas the best of luck as he continues to develop his skills and confidence in his abilities.

You can see the short film Thomas created about the Rochdale Pioneers' Museum here.  The Greater Manchester Alternative Tourist Guide was also created by the participants, which you can see here.