For The Uninspired Women: Every Monday we will be posting interviews with women in the creative industry. From female film directors, photographers, Studio owners to actresses, Make Up artists and musicians. We understand how hard it is to keep motivated when you’re in or thinking about joining an industry that is only looked upon as successful if you “make it” in this society of course.
Sinitta Monroe is a two-time award-winning writer, with several years of experience behind the camera working across shorts, features, music videos and documentaries.
How has your upbringing shaped your current values and mindset?
Through my upbringing creativity, communication, confidence, and independence have played a massive part in who I am today. From a very young age, it was evident that I had a knack for writing creatively. Once I left university I had all these aims and goals and wasn’t truly prepared for the rejection from the industry that I was so determined to be a part of. However, through that rejection, I always remained persistent, optimistic and present in my journey as a creative.
Who has impacted your life in a positive way (famous or non)?
My mum is my biggest fan and my biggest supporter; she has always encouraged me from a very young age to be whoever I wanted to be. My mum has always accommodated my desire to want more, managing my expectations and always keeping me grounded whenever I doubt and question my ability to create. More importantly, she has always taught me to never give up on my dreams.
What did you study at university and has it helped you in your career?
I studied Film Studies and Screen Practice at Roehampton University, which is really where my journey into screenwriting developed. I have always been a storyteller from the age of six, writing poetry and short stories. I loved reading Maya Angelou, Shakespeare, The Brothers Grimm and I was and still am a massive fan of Disney films. While at university I was able to understand the structure of storytelling, the importance of three-act structure and understanding the purpose of storytelling. These experiences reinforced my passion and led me to focus on pursuing a career in independent filmmaking, creating stories, directing and producing content.
How important is financial backing when starting off as a producer?
Financial backing is important, but not imperative when you are first starting out in the industry. The industry is changing daily and we are essentially living in the digital world, where we can create our own content. Ten years ago you would have to pitch to commissioners, now you have digital platforms YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu, who provide you with followers, subscribers and essentially can lead to commissioners approaching you. One thing I would say, based on my personal experiences, if you have a good script, you naturally attract good talent and good crew who want to work with you, because they can see the potential in the work you are trying to create. Once you begin building your network the financial backing will follow.
What was the motivation behind your very first project Home Sweet Home?
I wrote Home Sweet Home at a time, where there was a huge focus on mental health. I really wanted to tell a story where the audiences are following the day in the life of someone who is suffering from a mental illness. It was really important to me to essentially create a film that was somewhat aesthetically pleasing but had a solid narrative, which would essentially educate and raise awareness about mental health. This project will always be dear to me as it was the first film I wrote, produced and directed independently.
Many people claim to be scriptwriters but what separates the professional to the amateurs?
The only separation for me personally are those who do write and those who don’t and those who start and those who don’t finish, you can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write. The challenge is always committing to your craft and starting with the aim to finish that defines the professional or the amateur for me.
Whats the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career and what did you learn from it?
The biggest challenge I have faced throughout my career is my patience.
Sometimes you get to a point where you are working yourself into the ground, you take a step back and look at what others are achieving and you wonder to yourself why are you not there yet? When will your time come? Why is the recognition taking so long? What I have learned from these questions is that everyone has their path. It is important to follow your gut and work towards what is right for you. For years people would say to me you’re a really good writer, you should write a book, a script, a show and I used to ignore this because in my mind I wanted to work on set. I had no desire to explore my creativity, however, that caught up with me very quickly and here I am.
What are the 5 essential things you need to know as a filmmaker?
The five essential things you need to know as a filmmaker are:
1- It’s not what you know it’s who you know, networking is imperative in this industry and will really assist you in moving up the ranks quicker, meeting new people producers, distributors talent, all can lead to you securing the finances you need for your next project.
2- Identify your strengths and use them to your advantage – as independent filmmakers you often find yourself in a position where you wear multiple hats Director, Writer, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor etc. When applying or seeking funding its important that you identify your strengths and other people’s strengths, who can contribute to your project, it will make your application stronger.
3- Time- It’s really important that you respect the time of others and ensure you are on time for meetings, you start projects on time and finish on time as this could affect future jobs. It is also important to remember no matter what stage of your career you are at you still have time so don’t let time be a factor as to why you won’t do something.
4- Social awareness – I really think its important that we are aware of your digital footprint, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram you have a responsibility to yourself to ensure you are projecting the best version of yourself or your brand online. Don’t give trolls a reason to end your career before it begins.
5- To never give up- at times this industry can be extremely challenging and will make you question yourself and your artistry. It’s always important to listen to your gut and follow your dreams.
Tell us why you decided to make Suffering a comedy rather than something dramatic?
I am a massive fan of female writers Michaela Coel and Issa Rae. I wanted to write something that incorporated elements of humor, love, life, and relationships in a comedic and funny way.
Suffering is a comedic and unapologetic approach to engagement, exploring new perspectives and the fundamental differences between the way men and women think and feel. I love creating stories based on life experience and moments of realisation, which enable audiences of all ages to invest into the storyline. I chose to make the series a comedy as I wanted to highlight everyday issues men and women face in relationships but in a lighthearted funny way. After all, laughter is the language of the soul.
How can actors get in touch with you to work for with you?
Actors can find me via my platform Monreel Entertainment which is on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. Consequently, you can also contact me via my website www.sinittamonero.com
What is your favourite quote?
If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be. – Maya Angelou
What do you want your legacy to be?
I would love to leave behind a portfolio of work that has a positive impact on the world.
But more importantly, there is a young girl in East London, who has dreams and aspirations to write but doesn’t see anyone else she can identify with, doing the same thing. I hope to inspire women of colour, who read this and feel encouraged to go out and chase their dreams the same way I did.
See you next Monday where we interview Influencer Marium Rahman.