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An Interview with Filmmaker Alice Shaw

A few months ago, Fifth Sense were approached by student filmmaker Alice Shaw, who was looking for volunteers to be interviewed for a short film she was making into living with smell and taste loss as part of her BA TV and Radio Production degree at Salford University. Her film, which she has called Blocked, has now been made (you can watch it here). Alice says the support she got from our members was amazing and she feels honoured that so many people opened up to her. We decided to interview her about her experiences.

1. What are the biggest challenges you face since you lost your sense of smell?
The biggest challenge I faced after losing my sense of smell was not being able to smell my loved ones, such as my mum’s perfume and my dad’s familiar aftershave. In school you always used to be able to tell what cardigan or jumper was yours, because it had that ‘home smell’. Even now it is probably one of the things I miss most.  

2. What inspired you to make your short film?
My inspiration for the film was prompted when a tutor at the University of Salford suggested that I delve into something that is a personal, emotional subject – something I might want to bring light to.

I realised that after a head trauma accident over two years ago, in a way was still grieving in silence. When I researched into anosmia, it was only then I realised how many people are anosmic, and I was astounded at the amount of community spirit there was within groups such as Fifth Sense. That ignited the flame of wanting to focus on this invisible condition and make it visible.

3. What interested you about Elizabeth’s story?
What interested me about Elizabeth and her story was how I really understood how she felt. After experiencing similar head trauma incidents, I felt as though I could connect with Elizabeth and really understand how to get across the most difficult things someone with anosmia faces.  

4. What did you learn from your experience of making the film?
One of the biggest things I learnt while creating BLOCKED was that I had to grieve the loss I experienced. Being at university where everyone is caught up in deadlines and social events, I actually think I tried to laugh off what had happened, as I didn’t want to look bad in any way.

After reaching out to the anosmia groups online and hearing the stories from others who’d been through similar things, I realised how upset I actually was. I cried a lot while making this film (I know that sounds soppy) and I did feel a bit pathetic. However, but making this film allowed me to be myself in a way and to tell my own story, through the use of visuals and Elizabeth’s similar experience.   

5. What’s next?
I’m currently working my way up the ladder in the world of television. I absolutely love documentary as it’s all about telling stories and feeling real emotions, so fingers crossed that I will one day make an impact and bring light to the all-important ‘little voices’ in today’s world.

All of us at Fifth Sense would like to congratulate Alice on making such a brilliant and moving film and for receiving a 2:1 for her project.  We’d like to wish her all the very best of success with her career!

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