We are so thrilled to announce the winners of our Radio & Audio Funding Award 2020!
Our Artistic Director, Jane Ray said: “We were pleased that our new development workshops* enabled a more considered and informed debate over who should be our 2020 winner. However, it gave our judges a truly heartbreaking job, as by the end they were as committed to the finalists as the finalists were themselves. In the end, they drew on The Whickers’ core values of creating brilliant documentaries from emerging talent that might not otherwise have got the chance in today’s competitive industry. We are beyond excited to be working with Mads Mordigan and Priyanka Gaikwad, and hopefully showing them off at a gala event on the other side of lockdown.”
Our top prize goes to the London based audio producer, Mads Mordigan with her project, Back and North.
Back and North follows two sex workers as they return to their small hometown in the north of England to produce a controversial comedy event. The finished programme aims to deal with traumas, transphobia and stigma through humour and a host of parody characters.
In the course of the Whickers Audio Inspiration Labs and one-to-one sessions with the five finalists, Mads’ story took a dramatic turn, which threatened the narrative to a point where lesser audio makers would not have been blamed for pulling the plug on the whole venture. Instead, our winning documentarian saw the potential to adapt her plan in a way that makes it all the more newsworthy.
It was noted by our workshop mentor and 2018 RAFA Winner, Ibby Caputo, that she was “impressed by the idea of sharing a more nuanced story and giving voice to the trans community”.
Judge Steve Titherington also said: “Back and North is a rich listen with a strong sense of place and an unfolding story. It was also an involved and clever listen that will work very well on radio.”
When we broke the news to Mads, she responded: “It’s been inspiring, if a little intimidating to be amongst the RAFA finalists. The quality of sounds and stories this year is amazing and we’re so excited to share the prize with Priyanka Gaikwad. The Whickers really scoop out some beautiful talent. We feel humbled and honoured that our story has been backed. We are elated that The Whickers team supports bold projects and seems unaffected by a moralism that we have previously encountered when speaking about the experience of Sex Workers without a context of rehabilitation. We look forward to continuing our project, which celebrates the ability to laugh in the face of prejudice.”
The runner-up prize goes to Bhopal based sound recordist and musician, Priyanka Gaikwad with Unmatched Lives.
Unmatched Lives delves into the stories of women who have decided, against all the tenants of their societal norms and familial expectations that they are not going to marry. It is an exploration of how single women in India from different castes, classes and religions are striving to find a balance between achieving independence and gaining the respect of those around them.
Judge Pam Fraser Solomon was thrilled to hear such refreshing, unfiltered voices who are “tentatively formulating questions about role and identity. Unmatched Lives has a delightful realism and would resonate with women and girls all over the world who are challenging the ‘Happily Ever After’.”
Our judges and workshop tutors also noted that since the beginning of this process, Priyanka felt empowered to start sharing her own experience of singleness and creative ambitions for the soundscape of her piece.
Our judges agreed with Ibby Caputo that Priyanka’s story was “relevant and timely, especially in relation to the rise of child marriage in India, owing to the impact of COVID-19.”
Unaware, we phoned Priyanka in the middle of a Diwali firework display. It seemed appropriate somehow. Above the noise she said “Oh wow, this is SO GOOD, I am really excited. I am very keen to learn from the best of the best and to make this happen. I am really thankful for The Whickers’ loving support. Something so good is building here.”
*Unlike in previous years, our RAFA finalists did not pitch their projects in public in order to decide on a winner. Instead, each won £1,000 and were invited to join our Whickers Audio Inspiration Lab, a series of workshops hosted in partnership with Open City Documentary Festival. Through these development workshops, the projects that showed the most improvement and promise, were chosen as our 2020 RAFA winners. The additional prize bundle consisted of £5000, including mentorship from top industry professionals Eleanor McDowall and Ibby Caputo.