21 September 2016
Last week we celebrated Footstep’s 25th anniversary. We were joined in our celebrations by clients, contributors, crew, actors and team members past and present.
But where did it all begin? By 1990 I had already worked in various media organisations and began reflecting on where my passions really lay. I loved media, education and communication – and the more languages I could do it in the better. I wanted to find a way of combining those passions. A few months later, in 1991, Footstep Productions was born. My idea was, through the programmes, to create footprints which other people could follow. I could never have dreamt that the road would be so long, nor that so many of the people who followed those early footsteps would still be on the road with us and leaving their own footprints for others to follow.
When I was making the series Voces Españolas (filmed in the refugee camps of the Western Sahara and the rubbish dumps of Guatemala City) my executive producer at the BBC looked at the first cut of the programmes and said “Colette, you don’t make programmes, you have a way of life”. I didn’t really understand what he meant at the time, but I’ve come to realise over the years that it is our very holistic approach to programme making and the long term relationships that we maintain with those we meet along the way that is at the heart of Footstep.
In 1994 we filmed with Carolina Lopez, an eleven year old in Popayan, Colombia. Carolina always had big ideas and grasped life by the scruff on the neck. At 14, she convinced her parents to let her come and stay with the Footstep team in London for 2 months! Later, when she needed to stay in Spain to continue her studies, other members of the “Footstep family” came to her rescue. Carolina is now a consultant oncologist and runs a Cancer Centre back in Colombia.
In Guatemala, we filmed with the Out of the Dump/Fotokids project set up by ex-Reuters news photographer, Nancy McGirr. Evelyn, one of the young girls we filmed with, is leading the project and helping other young people in Guatemala to express themselves through photography, get an education and change their lives. We still support the project, by caretaking a bank account for sponsors and funds raised.
We regularly have letters and emails from people who worked with us many years ago, telling us what an impact the experience had on them and, in some cases, how it had influenced their future career choices.
Our holistic approach also extends to production and how we work with our clients. With audio or video, we like to get on board as early as possible, so that we can suggest the most cost effective ways of achieving the product they want. We are rigorous in our approach to budgets, educational methodology and planning, but we like to push the boundaries and make something special, that will really work for the audience and fit with the other elements of the package.
For our broadcast clients, we like to let our imaginations run wild and then adapt our ideas to fit the size, scale and budget available. For us, it’s all about thinking outside the box and making the product as good as it can possibly be.
After 25 years we must be getting something right, as so many of our clients still work with us and recommend us. Have you got any stories of photos of working with Footstep? Why not send them in and if we publish them on the website or our Facebook page we’ll send you a 25th Anniversary Footstep goody bag.
Footstep Productions - to be continued………