Meet the Team

Clara Shield

Operations & Development Manager

I’m Clara Shield and I am one of the co-founders of the Young Women’s Film Academy and until December 2019 the Chair of the Board of Trustees. I have been facilitating and leading work with girls and young women since 2000 predominantly in the voluntary sector using creative drama and film to explore issues of oppression and challenging gender discrimination. I am delighted that since its inception in 2010 the Young Women’s Film Academy, it has grown from strength to strength becoming a charity in its’own right in 2018 and continues to provide all girls and young women, regardless of circumstances, the opportunity to engage in telling their story through film.

Danielle Giddins

Film Maker

Hello! I’m Dani, the resident filmmaker for the Young Women’s Film Academy. I started my career in broadcast television and have since tried my hand at anything and everything involving film! These days, when I’m not supporting YWFA members make their own films, I work as a freelance editor and camera operator on both dramas and documentaries. My passion lies in community, issue based film that seeks to create positive change.

Lucy Wood

Drama Worker

Hi, My name is Lucy Wood. I am 25 years old. I have been working at the YWFA for 2 years. I have a diploma in Drama and Applied Theatre from Northumbria University.
I run the Saturday club and also work behind the scenes on all the films we create from, character development, acting skills, script writing, creating props.
I work out in the community taking educational films the YWFA made and facilitating workshops within schools and youth clubs and I also work in the community facilitating ‘Film in a day’ workshops along side another colleague.

Hannah McParlin

Lead Project Facilitator

Hi, I’m Hannah I’m a new member of the team and will be running the Loneliness: Never far from Home project. I’ve been film making and facilitating for over 10 years. In particular teaching young people filmmaking skills in a variety of settings, including Tyneside Cinema’s academies and at RGS. I love teaching and working in settings where film can be used to help develop people and provide a voice. I passionately believe filmmaking is and should be fun, creative and positive (and sometimes hard!). I’m a jack of all trades but specialise in the technical side of film, I’m a certified trainer in DaVinci Resolve editing software. I make films for clients and work freelance in industry in a variety of roles including on productions for independent features, Channel 4, BBC and Netflix.


Sarah Ralph

I am Sarah Ralph the chair of the YWFA. I was introduced to the YWFA in September 2017 after working with the academy on a film-in-a-day workshop for girls from two schools in Newcastle and South Shields. I moved to the North East in 2015 for my day job and felt like I had spiritually 'come home'! I am a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Northumbria University, and my research, teaching and public engagement focus is gender, culture and the media. I am co-founder of Girl-Kind North East (with Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid from Newcastle University) – a project which takes a non-problem centred approach to working with girls and young women in the region. From 2012 - 2015 I conducted research on the British Television Comedy Industry, interviewing writers, directors, producers and other personnel and have published findings from this on intersecting issues of gender, age and ethnicity within the industry.

Lin Gatiss

Always an admirer of the YWFA and its ethos, I was thrilled to be asked to join the team and contribute to such a relevant grass roots and inclusive charity. Having witnessed first-hand the YWFA enhance and enrich the lives of individual girls and young women - instilling resilience, gaining new skills and recognising their own worth – I’m proud the academy gives a much needed voice to young females in the north east, as well as a rare opportunity to work alongside female industry professionals. My experience lies within the media, business and education sectors (25 years+) and as an International Development Officer, I now promote educational opportunities worldwide.

Fiona Scott

I’m Fiona Scott and I have been fortunate in my 19 year career to work with both voluntary and statutory organisations with young people and their families from diverse backgrounds.
As a qualified BACP Accredited Counsellor, I feel passionate about reducing the barriers and stigma that can still surround mental health and ensuring that young people have safe spaces that are freely accessible and have their voices heard. I strongly believe and have seen first-hand, how engagement in the creative arts and media are natural vehicles for young people not only to develop their skills in film, but also promoting self-confidence and interactions with peers; all of which are crucial in bolstering mental health and their holistic development.

Sarah Bouttell

I am Sarah Bouttell and I joined the YWFA board in December 2019. I’ve been making films since age 18 - the first opportunity I had to use a video camera. I make work which is often called artists moving image or expanded cinema, predominately working in 16mm film with a DIY ethos. I work in collaboration with other artists and as a founding member of Film Bee (est. 2003, Newcastle upon Tyne). I produce short-form documentaries for BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art about the exhibitions and engagement programmes, most notably filming and editing the BALTIC Bites series. I also have over 20 years experience documenting live art and performance, including music documentary and music video production. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to develop filmmaking skills as a young woman myself, I know how transformational this experience was in my life and I am delighted to be part of such an inspiring film academy that is enabling greater access to these experiences, challenging inequality and offering authentic experiences for young women to develop their skills, confidence and creativity.

Denise Moura

I am Denise Moura and I joined YWFA in May 2018. While studying Journalism in 2003, I became involved in community projects in Brazil, supporting disadvantaged groups to speak out about their needs. By offering training and tools for them to set up their own news site the participants were empowered by telling their own stories and showing the world their perspective on various issues. After my graduation, I continued my academic life, studying the function of media industries and their impact on society. YWFA is for me the opportunity to empower young women from all backgrounds to express themselves while challenging inequality within the film industry.

Catherine Boland

I’m Catherine Boland and I joined YWFA in June 2019. In 2018 I changed careers following 27 years, having gained expertise in HR, Payroll and Finance with the Tangent Group. In my current role with Founders4Schools and Workfinder, I’m passionate to develop supportive links between education and business and committed to supporting the next generation in preparing for the transition from education into the workplace. I also hold voluntary roles as a North East LEP Enterprise Advisor, National Careers Week Ambassador and as a mentor for two female students with North East futures UTC and the Girls Network.

Lesley Rose

I am Lesley Rose, a freelance animator and artist working in the North east of England. I became involved with the Young Women’s Film Academy through running animation workshops with the group and was impressed by the mutual support and motivation of the young women. In my own practice, I have explored the themes of women and mental health and marginalised voices. I am very keen to support women to enter the film and animation industry.

Laura Brewis

I am Laura Brewis and I joined the board of YWFA in December 2019. My background is in arts and culture, working for many years as Young People and Participation Manager at New Writing North, before going freelance in 2017 and working across the North East with organisations such as Cultural Spring, East Durham Creates and ARC Stockton as a Creative Producer. Across all of these roles, and my current one at Sunderland Culture as Artist Development and Creative Industries Producer, I am driven by my belief in the power of culture to shape young people’s lives and the role of creativity in bringing about social change. I am also the director and founder of We Make Culture CIC, which provides music-making activities for young people and adults in Sunderland and supports emerging musicians to develop creative confidence.