MA Film & TV graduate Sema Basharan is director of a film being shown on Inside Out South West on BBC One today (Mon 10 Feb) at 7.30pm.
The film - The Signalman - was made as part of an MA module taught by Denzil Monk and Mark Douglas while Sema was a student at Falmouth.
It's the story of Albert Coad, a violinmaker in Cornwall from 1911 until at least 1960. The majority of that time he was based in Penzance, where he had an attic studio overlooking the railway station.
Director, Sema Basharan tells us about the film: "I made The Signalman because Albert Coad was my great-great uncle and I wanted to find out about him and his violins - no one else in my family knew anything about him. That ended up being a really fun journey; tracking down relatives, digging out newspaper archives, seeing his photograph for the first time, and discovering his silver and gold medals in a violin case!
"Being such a personal story I learnt so much about myself and my family too, connecting me to relatives and a Cornish heritage I didn't know I had.
"I'm so interested to know where all his violins have ended up, who plays them, what kind of music they like to play. He gave each of his violins a name – so far I've come across 'The Wonder', 'Songbird' and 'The Paganini'. I know he sold a lot to the US via his sister who emigrated there, but there must be plenty in the UK. If there are any still in Cornwall I'd love for the owners to see the programme!
"Just before Christmas I was contacted out of the blue by someone in Cambridge asking to see the film because Albert made a violin for them in 1947. It was lovely hearing their memories of him, and there must be so many other similar stories out there.
"I'm so grateful to Cultivator Cornwall for deciding to take a Falmouth student to the Celtic Media Festival, which was in Llanelli that year. I had just finished the film and submitted it for assessment. I remember walking into a speed-networking session at the Celtic, feeling way out of my comfort zone. I had a brief chat with the first person I met, and she pointed me towards Sam, the editor of Inside Out South West, who ended up acquiring the film.
"Almost two years later it's being broadcast by the BBC. It's felt like such a long wait – especially when you're just starting out in the industry, because those first broadcast credits mean so much. But it's been a good reminder to go for every opportunity before you, because you just don't know who you might meet or where it will lead."