Susan Kemp (MLitt Creative Writing, BA (Hons) Film & Television)
Susan Kemp has been immersed in the subject of film throughout her career. She has made films, programmed films, reviewed films and documented the making of films. She has also studied film and visited film festivals around the world. In 2010 she was recruited to University of Edinburgh along with Jane Sillars to design and establish a new Masters programme on Film, Exhibition and Curation. Initially named Film in the Public Space the programme was one of the first university programmes to explore the ciruculation and mediation of the moving image. It offers an integrated approach to theory and applied practice, drawing on Susan's and Jane's working experiences between and across different aspects of producing, programming, studying, researching and teaching moving images.
Susan began her career making short films and working on low budget features. She spent her summers working at the Edinburgh International Film Festival eventually staying on to become the researcher and film programmer where she worked closely with director Mark Cousins and then Lizzie Francke. She was then invited to programme the short film selection for Film Four in its inaugural year and after that was offered a research position on the BBC One series Film 99 with Jonathan Ross, where she was soon promoted to producer.
Susan left the film series to make programmes about film for the newly created BBC Four, including a 30 minute programme on Cannes and a 60 minute documentary on Iranian film maker Samira Makhmalbaf. BBC Four was looking to have a weekly series about world cinema and asked Susan to produce the pilot and then the series.
Latterly she began directing and producing documentaries on a wide range of subjects including an observational documentary series about surgery, a six-part history of Scottish journalism, and a number of one-off single subject docs. In 2007 Susan studied for an MLitt in creative writing at Glasgow University. She took voluntary redundancy from the BBC in 2008 and completed her masters in September. She was awarded a distinction and was also short-listed for the Sceptre Prize in March, 2009.
More recently Susan has made feature documentaries. 'In The Light: you need to look squint at history sometimes to see the women in it' was completed in May 2020 and released online . In 2016 she comleted 'Nort Atlantik Drift: A Portrait of Robert Alan Jamieson' (https://nortatlantikdrift.com/) which was a wonderful collaboration with UoE Creative Writing poet and author Robert Alan Jamieson which was filmed in Shetland over two weeks (and was selected for the Shetland Film Festival, Screenplay, as its outreach film) and 'Writing Ensemble: An Experiment in Theatre' which follows the process of translating the research of Professor Laura Bradley on censorship in East German Theatre into a new play by leading Scottish Playwright, Peter Arnott (http://www.blogs.hss.ed.ac.uk/whos-watching-who/).
In 2015/16 Susan also researched and directed a feature length documentary on the late film director Antonia Bird which screened on BBC Four in May 2016 and launched a retrospective at the BFI Southbank (https://www.susan-kemp.com), then Edinburgh Filmhouse and Manchester Home.
Programme Director MSc Film, Exhibition & Curation.
June 2016 - May 2020 Feature documentary In the Light: you need to look squint at history sometimes to see the women in it (http://www.Inthelightfilm.com)
This feature documentary film (1hrs 42 mins), officially premiering online July 8, directed by Susan Kemp and produced by Shona Munro, is a rumination on how history, without us being particularly aware of it, so often closes over women’s achievements and renders them invisible.
By considering a story of 150 years ago with a story of today what is revealed is how active we have to be to make women present in our cultural, built and historical environments.
Over 150 years ago, a group of women entered the University of Edinburgh to study medicine, the first time this had happened anywhere in Britain. Popularly known as the Edinburgh Seven, they studied, they excelled but were prevented from graduating and becoming qualified doctors. All they had asked for was a ‘fair field and no favour’ but they were met with resistance and hostility. In 2016 all Carrie Gracie asked from the BBC was equal pay but she was met with equal resistance and hostility.
This timely documentary skilfully weaves the historical context of 1869 with events in the 21st century as it follows the fight for recognition and equality, and asks has anything changed?
Jan 2015 - May 2016. Researched and directed a feature documentary: 'Antonia Bird: From EastEnders to Hollywood'.
Screened on BBC Four and launched retrospectives at BFI SouthBank; Edinburgh Filmhouse; Manchester Home. (https://antoniabirddirector.com/).
Feb 2014 - March 2016. Co-Investigator of AHRC funded project 'Who's Watching Who'.
Creating a documentary 'Writing Ensemble' which tells a story of the creative process undertaken by leading Scottish playwright Peter Arnott in translating the research of Professor Laura Bradley on theatre censorship in the former GDR into a new play (whoswatchingwho.org)
2012 -2013: Knowledge Exchange Funded project, ‘Nort Atlantik Drift: A Portrait of Robert Alan Jamieson’:
A film about the poet as he reflects on the distant corner of the Shetland Islands where he grew up and on the end of an era.
2011, New Writer’s Award, Scottish Book Trust:
Including a performed reading of a new play at the Scottish Book Trust.
February 2010, ‘The Stasi Are Among Us’:
A collaboration with Dr Laura Bradley, Claus Loser, Fiona Rintoul and the Glasgow Film Festival to bring four film directors and two writers from Berlin to share their very different experiences of working under the watchful gaze of the unpredictable East German censor.
September 2008, WORDS 2008, The Mitchell Library:
Co-producer and curator of an exhibition about creative writing. The five day exhibition included a short film, daily readings, a fully booked panel discussion, writers -in-residence, an art installation by Nicola Atkinson, a sound installation, twice daily writing workshops which included 100 individuals over the course of the week, and a launch event for the publication to of ‘Let’s Pretend, 37 stories about (in)fidelity.’
November 2007 - September 2008, Let’s Pretend, 37 stories about (in)fidelity:
Co-editor of an anthology of new writing from students of Glasgow University’s Edwin Morgan Centre for Creative Writing. Working with Fiona Rintoul we took this project from its inception to publication.
Past project grants
Co-Investigator AHRC funded 'Who's Watching Who'
Knowledge Exchange Fund 'Nort Atlantik Drift'
Knowledge Exchange Fund, 'The Stasi Are Among Us'
- Director: Antonia Bird: From EastEnders to Hollywood. Screened BBC Four May 2016; Launched Retrospective at BFI SounthBank, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Manchester Home.
- Producer/ Director: Writing Ensemble: An Experiment in Theatre
- Producer/Director: Nort Atlantik Drift: A Portrait of Robert Alan Jamieson
- Producer/Director: Reported Scotland: 1 x 60’ documentary on the history of TV News. (TX BBC One Scotland Sept 30 2007)
- Series Producer/ Director: Deadline: The Story of The Scottish Press: 6 x 30’ documentary series (TX BBC One Scotland Sept 2007)
- Series Producer/Director: ERI: Edinburgh Royal Infirmary: 6 x 30’ observational documentary series featuring orthopaedic, cardiothoracic and transplant surgery. (TX BBC One Scotland Mar 2006).
- Director: A Dog’s Chance: 1 x 30’ documentary about dog owners competing at Crufts (TX BBC Scotland April 2005)
- Producer/Director: Hollywood Greats: Anthony Hopkins: 1 x 40’ documentary on Anthony Hopkins presented by Jonathan Ross. (TX. BBC Two June 13 2004)
- Producer/Director The Way Went Wild: 1 x 60’ documentary on Bill Oddie & Johnny Morris. (TX. BBC Two June 13 2004)
- Director: ArtWorks: Whistler’s Maw: 1 x 30’ documentary about Whistler’s portrait of his Mother. (TX. BBC Two Scotland, Aug 10 2003)
- Producer/Director: The Makhmalbaf Film House: 1 x 60’ documentary about 17 year old, award-winning Iranian film director, Samira Makhmalbaf, and her family. (TX BBC Four Aug 2002)
- Series Producer/ Director: The DVD Collection: 26 x 30’ weekly film review programme for BBC Four including half hour documentary special about Polish film maker Krystof Kieslowski.
- Director: Star Trek: Make It So: 1 x 25’ documentary for Star Trek Night (TX BBC2 Sept 2001)
- Producer/Director: Cannes 2001 : 1 x 30’ (TX BBC Four, May 20, 2001)
- Producer: Film 2000 with Jonathan Ross: Film review series for BBC One. (TX 2000)
- Researcher: Film ‘99 with Jonathan Ross: Film review series for BBC One. (TX 1998)
- Researcher: Last Of The Good Guys: A tribute to James Stewart 1x 40’ documentary (TX Network BBC2: December 23 1997; January 2 1998)
- Researcher: How To Make A Movie: 3 x 30’ documentary series (TX Network BBC2: September 1998)
- Producer. Pan-Fried 16mm B&W 7 minute Drama, Dir: Justin Molotnikov. Funded by British Screen, Scottish Television, National Lottery. Awards: Scottish New Talent BAFTA for Best Performance (James Young) (1998)
- Director: Lemn Sissay ‘Gold From The Stone’. A short, synch super-8, colour film exploring poetry and performance. Screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival, The British Short Film Festival and Bradford Film Festival (1996)
- Writer/ Director. Hill Of Beans. A short drama financed in part by Scottish Screen’s First Reels scheme. Screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival and on Scottish Television.