CREATE: My Pandemic Story – Stephanie

Stephanie’s Pandemic Story

In the second of the CREATE series of articles, Stephanie tells us about how self-isolation due to Covid 19 inspired her film, Living in Fear, which documented how Coronavirus has affected disabled people’s lives.

Stephanie with one of her awards

I am 25 years old and have recently graduated from the University of Bristol with a Distinction in MA Film and Television. Since leaving university in 2019, I have set up a film production company called Four Wheel Drive Productions which specialises in post-production and script consultancy. I’m really keen to help more filmmakers and screenwriters with disabilities break into the film industry and receive the recognition they deserve.

I have Congenital Muscular Dystrophy which is a progressive muscle wasting condition. At the end of February, I was becoming increasingly worried about catching the Coronavirus, as I knew if I caught it my body wouldn’t be able to fight it. Many of my disabled friends felt the same, so on the 1st March I took it upon myself to self-isolate as the government were not considering a lockdown at this stage.

This is when my ideas began to form and I started planning my documentary called Living In Fear. I wanted to use my filmmaking skills to investigate into how the Coronavirus was affecting disabled people’s lives, in terms of accessing food, care, work, socially, how they felt in isolation, but also what they were doing to maintain a healthy well-being.

Thousands of people with disabilities were left in the dark and had to make the call weeks before to lockdown as it was inevitable that we would die if we caught the virus. Food was impossible to access because we couldn’t go out or get delivery slots, and even if we did panic buyers made it impossible to get the items we desperately needed. Having carers coming in and out of the house was risky and many disabled people felt that having basic care was putting their lives at risk. 

I conducted interviews to show in my film and I also asked participants to record a video diary of themselves, explaining what they were struggling with the most in isolation but also what have they been doing to take their minds off the virus. The interviews and video diaries were really powerful and helped to get across the importance of shielding and to change societies attitudes, most of which that hadn’t been very understanding over that period.

Living In Fear is currently in film festivals across the world and it has won six awards so far which is amazing! I’m so happy that my film is getting recognition as it will help society to understand how the pandemic effected disabled people’s lives and hopefully push them to be more considerate when going out, shopping in supermarkets and providing working from home opportunities for us going forward until it is safe for us to go back to normal.

After my film has done the festival rounds, I’m planning on getting a distribution deal so the film will reach a wider audience.

My film is being shown at the @essexdocfest between the 28th October and the 1st November. You can download tickets here so you can see my film and be a part of the festival!

If you’d like to see my film trailer, you can watch it here!

Please follow me on Twitter @StephCastelete Facebook @StephanieCasteleteTyrrell and Instagram @reels_on_wheelz for the latest updates on my films.

Have you enjoyed reading Stephanie’s Pandemic Story? Check out some of our other stories in the same CREATE series: Jamie’s Pandemic Story

Do you have a pandemic story you would like to share? Tell us about what you’ve created during Covid 19, and how it’s made you feel.