Ruth Reid is a Scottish documentary producer who directed the short film Night Shift through SDI’s Bridging the Gap scheme.

The film tells the story of a lady called Anne Wallace, who a decade ago received a mission in a dream: to care for the working women of Glasgow.

The intention of the film was to show a different side to their work, their lives, that wasn’t focussed on prostitution. The film screened all around the world. Ruth’s most recent film, Scheme Birds, premiered at Tribeca in the US and had its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this year.

In the last five years Ruth has only been making feature documentaries, by and largely about women or the queer community. She likes to make films by and about women because, in her words, “we don’t have enough”.

Watch a short interview with Ruth:

Here are some excerpts from a longer interview with Ruth:

On the privilege of filmmaking

“So many of the women in the films that I make are exceptionally strong, brilliant women who have incredible stories to tell. It’s a huge privilege for us to be allowed into their living rooms, into their lives to tell their stories. And it’s a privilege we don’t take lightly… As part of our filming practice, which we do more in the queer community and with women, we create safe spaces in which they feel comfortable to talk and that we have relationships of trust that have been built over long long periods without any cameras there.”

On what needs to change

“We’ve had centuries of seeing male directors’ visions of the world. We need to incorporate everyone else. We need to go to minorities, we need to go to the queer community, we need to be able to tell our own stories as women.”

“There are old hierarchies that still exist within the film industry… There are however lots of new ways of working, having multiple directors, not having hierarchical systems. I think whenever we can challenge those kinds of expectations we’re only going to benefit from that.”

“We need to work toward creating sustainable creative industries and we need to be more business minded I think in film. We have fantastic opportunities, it’s a great product we can be using, it has a massive cultural value, there are great financing initiatives but I think we need to start being smarter. I think there’s the kind of notion that if you’re an artist you can’t be a good business person and vice versa but I think we need to learn from both communities and learn how to create sustainable productions. We need help from people in both communities, we need to help each other and work out how to create a long-lasting ecosystem.”

“There was one period of time where I would be in meetings with a co-producer who was 40-something and male and it was incredible because he had never really produced anything before and I had more experience, and every time a question was asked, they would go immediately to him. All the time to him. And I was sitting there going ‘Why are you asking him? He doesn’t know the answer to this question. It’s me. I’m the one who is bringing you this.’

“I remember being so frustrated and it dawning on me later that he was a 40-year-old white man and it was much easier to ask him the question. The assumption was that he would know. So I remember being exceptionally frustrated by that. But I think we as female filmmakers can do more to create better environments for the next generation of female filmmakers so that they don’t have to experience that.”

Watch Ruth’s film, Night Shift

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