films that make a difference
True Vision Aire
Anna joined forces with True Vision in 2010 – meeting Jezza for the first time in a café outside the BBC at White City. She was late (as usual) and he was just about to give up and leave. Fortunately he didn’t.
Anna has been working in Documentaries forever – she started off at Chameleon TV in Leeds as a researcher then got promoted to AP on her first gig; then she has worked her way up. She has generated many of her own films herself from her own ideas and access. Her first film ‘Dunblane Remembering our Children’ was the only film to be made about the families in Dunblane who lost their children. It was Anna’s access (she grew up in Dunblane and had personal ties with some of the families) and she is still friends with some of the families today. The families had only ever been seen on TV fighting the battle for better handgun laws in this country. This film was about the children who died and their lives but it became a powerful testimony on friendship in grief. It transmitted as a Network First Special on ITV on the first anniversary of 'Dunblane' in 1997 to an audience of 6.6 million at 9pm. It was nominated for an RTS and an EMMY and won the Prix Italia. Her career has been pretty much down hill from there!
In 1997 Anna first came across the viscious phenomena of young school girls being groomed for sex. Living in Leeds, a study Barnardos had done in Bradford showed that the explosive element at the heart of this story was that the perpetrators were overwhelmingly Pakistani. A few years later she found herself directing her first network doc which became a 90 minute feature doc called ‘Edge of the City’ for Channel 4 which was the first film to expose this phenomenon. The film was hugely controversial for Channel 4, pulled from the schedules 3 weeks before the local elections. It transmitted a few months later in August 2004 with just about every police officer in Bradford on duty. A riot didn’t start and Channel 4 stood by Anna’s research and determination to tell this story.
Along the way Anna had three children within the space of a year and 5 days..
(yes it is biologically possible!) – and carried on working throughout. She is one of those rare creatures in television – a working documentary director who is also a mum.
Anna has made numerous films for primetime for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 and loves making long term observational films which are generally access based, generally very sad and come with a health warning on how many glasses of wine you’ll need to get through it – although Muslim Driving School for BBC2 (which sold over the world) was a refreshing departure from this! Over the last few years she has become best known for badgering Channel 4 to continue her campaign to raise the plight of British School girls who are being sex trafficked across the UK – and she has made two further films - Britain’s Sex Gangs (Channel 4, 2011) and The Hunt For Britain’s Sex Gangs (Channel 4, 2013) in which Anna negotiated truly unprecedented access to follow a live police investigation through over a period of three years. A multi-perpetrator trial followed and collapsed at which point Anna did not know if she would ever be able to show her material. The film transmitted in 2013 just as the Oxford trial was in the Old Bailey – and riding on a wave of outrage at the way vulnerable victims were treated in court, the MOJ announced trials for the pre-recorded cross-examination of vulnerable victims in court. ‘The Hunt for Britain’s Sex Gangs’ won numerous awards including the RTS Journalism Award for Current Affairs; the AIB for Best Investigative Documentary and Anna won the hugely prestigious Women In film and Television BBC News & Factual Award in December 2013 in recognition for her 17 year campaign on this issue.
Anna is a company director of True Vision Aire – a tiny off shoot of TV HQ, which is based in a rather large city called Leeds.