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Scott Ritchie

Scott Ritchie

Scott joined Beacon Films in 2012 and was involved in several projects, often taking on acting roles. He played private detective ‘Tony Roman’ in a film commissioned by Spirit of 2012 that profiled projects we had supported during our first two years. Through Viewfinder Plus he was connected with new organisations and found new opportunities to act.

Beacon Films delivered the Viewfinder project between 2015-2018, and, having been awarded additional funding, have been delivering the Viewfinder Plus project since the beginning of 2019. The initial Viewfinder project was a skills-development initiative, supporting filmmakers with disabilities, autism and special needs.

Viewfinder Plus engages 40 project members across 48 film-skills workshops, where they will 'map' people and third/private/public organisations they are - or would like to be - connected to and invite them to an event at the end of each block. Members will showcase their filmmaking skills and one organisation will run a taster workshop as a gateway into activity.

Scott says: “I love acting. It's been my dream job ever since I was a child. My mother contacted Beacon Films as she had heard good reports about it and thought it would be good for me.”

Beacon Films was aware of Scott’s acting passions, so when Scott asked about theatre groups, Will (the Development Director) gave him details about a local theatre company: The Lawnmowers.

Will Sadler, Development Director at Beacon Films says: “In North East England we are lucky to have some fantastic organisations that support artists with learning disabilities and autism. Scott’s acting passions meant it felt natural to point him towards The Lawnmowers. We had some leaflets in the office, so I gave him one.”

Scott says: “Lawnmowers help groups across the country to understand people with learning disabilities including autism. They produce plays at universities to help the students understand. I did some performances and plays for nurses about PIP [Personal Independence Payment]. One of the nurses came up to me at the end and chatted to me. She was trying to understand what it was like to have autism.  I've enjoyed doing the plays and theatre work, and meeting new people. It helped me a lot and developed my acting skills.”

Scott in his role as 'Chief Inspector Detective Professor Tony Roman'

Then, a very exciting opportunity came along for Scott: an audition for a part in a play. He explains:

“I was told by one of my carers at my assisted housing development about the auditions.  I applied along with thirty other candidates and was lucky enough to get the part. ‘Life of Reilly’ is about a family with an autistic son. It explains how various members of the family cope with him. My role is playing Craig, who is a friend of the son. 

"I also do a monologue for a few minutes about how I feel about being autistic. My reason is to make people to understand me and autism better, we are just like you, but we think differently. I don't want people to feel sorry for us. I just want people to treat us the same as anyone else. Being in ‘Life of Reilly’ makes me feel good as I am helping people understand more about learning disabilities.”

Will adds: “This reminded me about how valuable it is to point people towards the right additional opportunities, not least because you never know where it might eventually lead. I feel that together, Beacon Films, Lawnmowers Theatre Company and the ‘Life of Reilly’, have had a far greater impact on Scott than we would have had individually.”

After Scott performed in ‘Life of Reilly’ for three shows at Northern Stage – one of Newcastle’s leading theatre venues - Scott returned to Beacon Films projects.

“I came back to Beacon Films as I have learned so much in the past sessions about acting and filming. I have also made some friends. Beacon Films has helped me to succeed. They've helped me to make films and understand films like all film angles. They have made me feel more self-assured.”

However, his experiences of performing in ‘Life of Reilly’ weren’t over yet. He is about to begin a mini-tour of the play around the North East, and in August it will be performed at Edinburgh Fringe for two weeks.

He says: “I am really excited about ‘Life of Reilly’ being presented to Edinburgh Fringe. It will be a great experience for me. It has made me more confident in explaining about autism and being part of a group.”

Further Information

To find out more about the Viewfinder Plus project, click here