The Grierson DocLab is back for its 10th year and has named the 13 aspiring young filmmakers elected for its factual television training scheme.

Jane Callaghan, Managing Director of The Grierson Trust said: “Our principal objective with DocLab is to effect change from the bottom up by opening doors and bringing young people into the industry who wouldn’t normally have access or a way in. This work is supporting and supported by the independent production sector in developing our off-screen talent of the future. Together, we’re ensuring the future of the industry, increasing the diversity of our teams whether in class, race, geography or gender.”

Of the 2022 cohort, 77% come from outside of London, 62% are female and 38% male, 46% have an ethnic background other than white British, 38% are living with a disability

Grierson DocLab 2022 Cohort

Neil Aitken (25, Dundee): studied at Queen Margaret University and the University of Dundee where Neil first explored factual storytelling “creating short films and documentaries and immersing myself in the production process. I hope to one day share my perspective with the world – a perspective concerned with stories of neurodiversity, Scottish history, culture, and identity – as well as those on the fringes of society whose stories have been so far ignored or misrepresented.”


Mariam Aliabadi (25, London): born in Iran, Mariam arrived in the UK aged 8 years old. She went on to study Economic History at LSE. “From a young age I have been fascinated by the medium of documentary as a portal into the lives of others. I was captivated by the way storytelling, moving images, light and sound could combine to immerse the viewer into other peoples’ realities. For me, documentary film has always been a vehicle for new ways of seeing and thinking about the world.”


Rebecca Cudmore (25, Manchester): graduated in Wildlife Conservation with Zoo Biology before completing a Wildlife Documentary Production MA, during which she “learned the basis of documentary work and found my eyes opened to the media industry where wildlife sciences can be applied, and I knew I had found my place in the world.”


Lauren Dawkins (19, Lymington) studying film production and has “always been inspired to communicate visually, and whilst I have enjoyed creating fictional films, it is the truth within a story that I am most drawn to. I am currently working on my final project: a documentary that explores climate change and youth activism. I want to show how despite our environments, we are united in our similar hopes and fears.”


Assiah Hamed (24, Leicester), graduated in Journalism and International Relations before completing an Investigative Journalism MA. “Through my Masters, I delved into the world of documentary filmmaking from developing ideas to editing – and I felt that I fit right in.”


Deshawn Hillman (19, London), currently working as an assistant in film production at Elam and now looking forward to “having the ability to share my own ideas and get critiques and room of improvements. I know after the training scheme, I’ll be leaving with a lot of new knowledge and confidence for the industry.”


Ruby Hubbard (21, Norwich), graduated in Film and Moving Image Production, specialising in documentary filmmaking. Since graduating Ruby has worked freelance as a runner “which has confirmed my love for this industry.”


Erin Lister (24, London/Bolton), a journalism student keen to “continue exploring new and interesting ways of sharing the stories that have inspired me, stories from all the amazing communities I am and have been a part of and stories that never got the opportunity to be told.”


Frazer McLean (21, Leeds/Sheffield) a BA Media student at Leeds Trinity. “Documentary has the incredible ability to fight ignorance and help to spread empathy for people with different experiences and lifestyles. I have always felt that the North of England, specifically small towns, and cities which have struggled economically for so long, have their own stories to tell.”


Jyoti Rajput (25, Leamington Spa), a politics graduate who is “a firm believer in documentary as a social and political agent. I feel proud to take part in the continuation of John Grierson’s legacy, as he utilised film to confront the challenges facing democracy.”


Sarah Russell (21, Solihull/Reading), a graduate in English Literature and Film from the University of Reading, “The representation of women both in front and behind the screen is really important to me. My dissertation project is focused on the novels of Jean Rhys, analysing her depiction of femininity, identity, and selfhood in a masculine world. I am also particularly interested in regional identity and how it can inform factual programming.”


Arnold Thornton-Rice (25, Horsham), a mental-health social worker in Coventry, “DocLab’s programme is the perfect place for me to combine and develop my skills, and move toward representing on-screen the sorts of complex issues and stories I’ve been immersed in within social work.”


Hasan Zakria (23, Slough) plans to use their experience as a Queer, Pakistani, Neurodivergent person to explore “societal norms and expectations that often limit people’s capacity to push boundaries, but as someone who exists outside the artificial margins of ‘normality’- my creative thinking has always offered a unique perspective.”



Jon Creamer

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.