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"...I think we need people to understand that disability is not a niche topic or experience its a part of being alive, it affects us all."


Associate Writer / Producer

March 15, 2024  

Celestine Fraser.jpeg

When Ruth finds her chronically ill sister Kitty living a new life by the seaside, she realises she doesn't know her sister - or her illness - at all... A short fiction film about sibling relationships and ableism.

BETTER is screening with The Girls’ Room by Tracey Lopes, Does Your Condom Make you Fat by Sophie King & written by Danielle Papamichael, Fifty Four Days by Cat White, and Period Drama by Evie Fehilly as part of Girls in Film & Kusini Productions FEMME FLICKS at Genesis Cinema Friday 15th March, 2024.

Hi Celestine, thanks for talking to us about your film Better, are you excited for this Friday’s screening at Genesis Cinema?


Very! I can’t wait to see it on the big screen at the beautiful Genesis.


As a producer and associate-writer on Better what does it mean to you to be part of Femme Flicks and having your short with such an amazing selection of short films?


It’s a real privilege! I’ve followed Girls in Film for years, and have heard such great things about all the other shorts.


Will there be any nerves ahead of the screening or are you just looking forward to the night?


There are always some nerves because every screen and audience is different, but I’m very much looking forward to being reunited with our crew and meeting the other filmmakers.


How did Better come about, and what was the experience like working with director Zoe Hunter Gordon on this project?


Better was born in the pandemic, during a grim winter lockdown. It was January, and everything felt very bleak, until Zoe rang me up and told me she’d had an idea. She’d been wanting to tell a story about how non-disabled people can struggle to accept people who are chronically ill, and how ultimately, it’s up to them – not disabled people – to change. We tossed around different ideas and slowly the idea formed over the Spring, over many drafts and phone calls. It was great fun working with Zoe again —my favourite part of the whole process was brainstorming ideas together.


How different has your approach to your film work been since your debut short ‘ill, actually’?


Since ill, actually, I’ve learnt a lot more about disability culture and politics. This has been a blessing, because it’s provided me with so many more ideas, but it’s also been a curse because I feel it adds even more pressure to do justice to the community.


I’ve loved learning more about screenwriting through working with Zoe and the other writers in the writer’s room. 


Finally, I think I’ve probably got better at being open and honest about my access needs — I’m slowly learning to feel less apologetic.


What more can be done to platform women’s voices and experiences within the film industry?


I think we need to value different traits in our directors, writers, producers, etc. It still feels like women filmmakers feel they need to perform masculinity or mimic male directors to be taken seriously. I think it was Greta Gerwig who said that in reality, being a director feels quite feminine and maternal: you’re responsible for the whole crew.


Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?


I’ve always loved storytelling, and did a lot of reading and writing as a child. I slightly spontaneously decided to study film at university, choosing a degree in English with Film Studies. This gave me a bit of a crash course in world cinema, which was inspiring, but what got me most excited about film was that my lectures and seminars were a stone’s throw from the BFI. I loved going to the London Film Festival with friends, dreaming of someday making our own films. Our proximity to so many of London’s iconic cinemas made filmmaking feel so much more possible.


You’re the founder of Just Copy, how did this unique media company come about?


It was quite organic, in the sense that I slowly realised that most of the creative work I’d done in my adult life had been in disability media. But it was also quite intentional: I was going through a period of particularly challenging illness, and I hadn’t left the house in several years. I suppose I was having a bit of an existential crisis! I was wondering what kind of career might be possible for me, and I didn’t know if I’d ever be well enough to hold down a job. So I decided to look at the skills, interests and expertise that I did have, and I realised that nothing was stopping me from doing my own thing and setting up a company. Working freelance has allowed me to work from home, set my own hours and do what I love.


What more can be done to provide greater visibility and opportunities for subjects and themes around disabilities within the media?


We need to give more money to disabled artists, and not just for those in their early careers. We need bigger lines in our budgets for access. And maybe most importantly, I think we need people to understand that disability is not a niche topic or experience – it’s a part of being alive, it affects us all.


What has it meant to you to be named one of the 10 most influential disabled people in media?


It’s a huge honour, and it also feels extremely ridiculous. The best thing about it has been meeting so many of the brilliant disabled people I admire. So many of them are doing work much more urgent and important than storytelling!


And what one piece of advice would you offer someone wanting to get into producing?


I would say simply to get started — you don’t need to wait for permission or a funding opportunity. 


Finally, what would you like your audiences to take away from Better?


I hope audiences will reflect on what it means to love someone who’s life looks a little different from what we might have expected for them. And I hope – maybe in vain! – that it makes it just a tiny bit easier to talk about disability.

"...I decided to look at the skills, interests and expertise that I did have, and I realised that nothing was stopping me from doing my own thing and setting up a company."

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