Women in Screen | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Women in Screen

Birthcloud, directed by Amanda Brennan, won four awards and had a female DOP, writer, producer, editor, and designer.

Led by Amanda Brennan, Principal Lecturer and Course Leader MA Acting for Screen


Amanda’s project seeks to develop and nurture women in film. For her, this includes actors, writers, directors, producers, gaffers, camera assistants, editors and more.

Amanda wrote about her work nurturing and supporting women in film in an article titled ‘Women on Screen’ for the journal Arts Professional (June 2016). She explained how her project connects closely with the MA Acting for Screen that she leads at Central:

“Since 2012 the course has produced 21 short films and one feature. Women have directed twelve of them, all have had at least two female heads of department, women wrote ten of them and have produced 16 of them, and all had a female executive producer.

Sourcing female crew members, such as gaffers, camera assistants, first assistant directors and editors, has been less successful. To rectify this, an initiative is being launched to establish a network and directory of female creatives in all areas of the industry for those who have recently graduated from film courses. I recognise that in some instances mentors may need to be put in place, but from 2017 I aim to have at least a 50/50 split in crew members.

There is also a strategy to continue to develop female alumni as producers, editors, writers and directors by inviting them to work on the projects that are scheduled throughout the year. This will create the opportunity for safe exploration and skill development.”


The films have been shown at eight festivals including a nomination for the best comedy and best director at London Shorts (2016), and four awards at Monaco Film festival in 2015.

Birthcloud has won four awards. The film, directed by Amanda Brennan, had a female DOP, writer, producer, editor, and designer. Director, Kate Herron's film Fangirl (made in collaboration with the MA Acting for Screen students at Central) was nominated for best director at Underwire Film Festival and for the Oscar-qualifying grand prize for best short at Flickers: Rhode Island International Film Festival. Kate worked with a female producer.

Director Janis Pugh's experimental film The Befuddled Box of Betty Buttifint, again made in collaboration with Central involved a female writer and female producers.

Amanda co-organised On the Verge: Great Female Characters, a film festival for female film makers at the Hospital Club (March 2017). A number of shorts were screened and a panel of speakers discussed ‘The Changing Landscape of Film and TV: New Opportunities for Female Filmmakers’. The work of MA Acting for Screen course was profiled at the festival as was the work of alumni. The aim of the festival was to profile work which has not been widely screened at mainstream film festivals.

Teaching expertise in a broader context

Amanda Brennan has a track record of engaging in scholarship in the area of actor training. The application of knowledge in this area of disciplinary expertise can be evidences in her leading workshops in Screen Acting internationally for several years. This has included Sofia Film Festival (British Council), Cairo Film Festival, React Production Company Bangkok, Catholic University Santiago Chile, Central University Bogota, New York University.

Amanda published The Energetic Performer: Actors and their Inner World (London. Jessica Kingsley) in 2016. In her book, she puts forward new approach to actor training and shows how to use the body to produce rich, varied and truthful performances. The approach, rooted in the Michael Chekhov Technique, integrates ancient Qigong knowledge with somatic psychology and western actor training methods to identify the links between physical shape, emotion and feeling in performance. Central graduate Riz Ahmed says of Amanda, “Amanda's approach is brilliant. Combining physical techniques with intellectual rigour to bring you to a place of grounded and relaxed creativity. She's been a great help to me”.(Riz Ahmed, actor, Four Lions, Nightcrawler, Star Wars: Rogue One; The Night Of).

Key partners

Jacqueline Peppal, Director, Great Lake Films. 2016/2017 Hospital Club Foundation's Emerging Creative for Film and Television.

Key funders

The Hospital Club (space in-kind)

Read more

Blog post ‘Preparing the Body for Work: Working for Coherence’ by Amanda Brennan

On the Verge Festival on Twitter @otvlondon & Facebook