Reflections on I Am Only Human After All.
My name is Billy Stevenson. I am 40 years old. I was admitted to ANA
treatment centre, Portsmouth in 2016 for alcohol addiction. There I was
detoxed and spent 7 months in their primary and secondary rehabilitation
It was during my time there I was encouraged to seek out volunteer work as
part of my integration back into society. I searched around for places to do
with movies, an industry I am passionate about but have never been involved
in. I came across Portsmouth Film Society and arranged a meeting with
Aysegul Epengin, the founder. I was honest about my situation and Aysegul
said PFS would be happy to give me the opportunity and help me get back to
My first experience at PFS was to help set up the ‘Big Screen’ a large
inflatable cinema screen that showed movies at various locations around
Portsmouth. During the winter months I helped out at their indoor screenings
showed at the Eldon Building. It was there that I learned of the ‘I Am Only
Human’ film making course they were offering to individuals of any
background who would never normally get an opportunity to be involved in
such a project.
I jumped at the chance. Suddenly I’d be learning about all aspects of film
making over a 20 week course. Script writing, story boarding, casting,
directing, filming and editing, not only that there would be lectures by local
film makers and a trip to Pinewood Studios in London!
It was a dream come true and I couldn’t wait for the course to start. We
were told the films were going to reflect upon important issues such as
homelessness, substance misuse, people in recovery, people with disabilities
and multiculturalism. Subjects I was only too familiar with. It was hard for me
to believe the position that I had now found myself in.
Aysegul was great tutor and very proficient. There was a good group in the
class all from different backgrounds and ethnicities. It was amazing to meet
like-minded people I would probably never meet elsewhere. The class was fun
but the learning was serious and on important and invaluable lessons in film
We were to come up with stories would eventually be turned into film and
shown at the New Theatre Royal. The idea of this blew me away as I already
had a story in mind. I have enjoyed creative writing in the past and had
written a short story nearly 10 years prior about a homeless man coming into
fortune. The idea that a story I had written almost a decade ago and had sat
with some other scribblings for so long may actually end up on the big screen
was so exciting.
I learned to turn my story into a screenplay and realised my future right
then. I want to become a script writer! I’ve always had a passion for writing
and have dreamt of becoming a recognised author, but I’ve always thought
these dreams far-fetched and that I wasn’t good enough. Getting recognition
in the classroom has re-ignited my passion to pursue this dream.
I was soon to see my story in storyboard form created by another student.
To see my story in drawing form was such fun. When it came to the casting
that was serious, but hilarious, we watched actors read out lines from our
scripts. A few different actors read out lines from my script but I knew straight
away who I wanted to cast.
The real magic came in the filming and to actually be on location and see a
character from my mind come to life on the streets Portsmouth. That was the
defining moment for me and it confirmed my ambition to become a script
writer and work in an industry I only ever dreamed I could.
Amongst all the excitement of the course we were also privileged enough to
be able to visit Pinewood Studios in London and see how business is done by
one of the biggest names in movie making. It was awesome, truly mesmerising
experience. I am so grateful to have been part of the ‘I am only human’ course
which has without doubt changed my life and given me direction.