Please introduce yourself and the project
I’m Soph Webberley, a filmmaker born and bred in Wolverhampton. Last year I made a short film with Rural Media, funded by BBC Arts and Arts Council England. Raised by Queenz is a dedication to the women in my life.
What was the creative process behind Raised by Queenz?
Grime influenced me heavily when in development of the film. The rawness of real life hitting you, through poetically timed sentences is inspiring. I knew I wanted to try and capture something similar and the best way for me to do this was to write a ‘letter’ to my dad. A person who I have no relationship with, a person who had a choice to be in my life and chose not to be.
I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t a sob story of being brought up without an active father figure, as I felt it was normal to be raised by one parent (and still do). I aimed for the film to focus more on representing women that took on both roles, who have had times of struggle and pressure but remained the strength in their children’s life, pushing them forward and not looking back.
This is why me and the team decided to simplify the shooting locations. I tend to incorporate fiction and documentary within all the films I’ve made previously, and this concept fitted perfectly when it came to combining memories of my dad and I in the car, and then portraits of locals in Wolverhampton who have absent fathers.
We originally had an actress reading the voice over, but once in post-production it felt more truthful and emotive for me to deliver words I had written.
How much did your own experiences influence the film?
If I think back to memories I have with my dad, I think of about three or four car journeys to McDonalds. He’d pick me up after getting a mouthful from my mom on the phone. We’d sit in silence for the whole journey. I’d eat my Happy Meal as quickly as I could. We’d pull up at my house and be in the car for a good 30 minutes, so he could sit and tell me that I was a mistake. I was about 6 years old; I’d gaze out the window staring at my front door praying that my mom would open it and call me in. It wasn’t long before those journeys ended.
I based the main concept of Raised by Queenz on these memories. My dad had children previously with my mom, they are 10 and 14 years older than me and I think a little part of them became extra protective of me, because they took on the role of moms/dads whilst my mom would work nights in the hospital. Something that both my sisters would say to me would be ‘we make mistakes for you, so you never need to make the same ones,’ referring to education, money, relationships etc.
My mom and my sisters were my idols and I remember them doing everything in their power to keep me grounded and working hard. The best part of this was many of my friends who I grew up with were in very similar situations, they knew their worth because of their moms, sisters, aunties, nans. I wanted to celebrate it the best way I know, which is filmmaking.
What's your favourite thing about your mum?
Where to start! I adore her. One of the things I love about my mom is her strength, she’s currently on the frontline for the NHS. Keeping positive, and pushing forward not looking back, as always. #StayHome
What do you think of the way society treats women and mothers?
I think there’s still a long way to go in how females from disadvantaged areas are represented and treated. The younger generations are actively promoting equality for the sexes, representation for cultures and sexual preferences. I’m optimistic for the future of females and I want to encourage that in the work I create as much as possible.
Who are some women that inspire you?
I’m inspired by so many women. Obviously, the mother and sisters. I get inspiration from women who want to make a change or have a goal and will do anything in their power to achieve it. Women are beautiful, powerful beings.
Where can people find you online?
Find me on Instagram @sophwebberley and Twitter @soph_webberley. Watch all my films on Vimeo: vimeo.com/sophwebberley
Soph Webberley is a New Creatives artist supported by Art Council England, BBC Arts and Rural Media.
We reviewed Raised by Queenz, and you can read our thoughts on it here.