Behind the scenes

Stuart's passion, patience and personality made it a pleasure to produce

 Photo courtesy of Jayne Gosnall 

Characters are critical to documentaries and I am lucky to have found a truly authentic person like Stuart. It would have been quite easy for him to be put off by past experiences of media so I feel very honoured that he let me tell his story.

Stuart and I have become great friends over the last few months. We have discussed plans to work together after the release of the documentary, using community and media to (hopefully) change lives and perceptions. His family and friends were wonderfully welcoming and despite many hours of recording, their quality of answers never dropped. I now feel part of their community and to be accepted into that so quickly is an amazing feeling. However, as a result of this, it was a real challenge to stay objective and impartial whilst working with them!

I met some really charming characters whilst producing the programme. MargaretMary was somebody I found totally captivating and her hunger to improve the community was very apparent indeed. I was humbled by her honesty and integrity whilst talking about her difficulties with mental health. She told me "when you talk about it, you're not isolated and that's why we need community places." MargaretMary was a shining example of how talking about your problems halves them, and as somebody who is driven to change a perception of mental health, I am very inspired and very thankful.

MargaretMary and Jackie at MediaCityUK

I certainly learnt a lot about myself whilst creating this documentary. Interviewing David Tate, lecturer in psychology at the University of Salford, was absolutely fascinating. I really find the subject of autism and neuroscience truly fascinating and it was great to be able to get a wider sense of the "disorder" from a professional. Stuart told me he still looks at his diagnosis of Asperger's (now Autism) as a "negative thing" but I do hope the release of the documentary will help others celebrate the positives of neurodivergence.

As media professionals it is essential that we provide balance and perspective. It is clear, amongst its problems, Salford certainly has many positives. I must finish by thanking everybody who took part in the documentary. I have been enlightened, moved but most of all inspired by the people of Broughton.

© 2020 Nick Ransom

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