Earlier this month, I was very happy to meet Paola Massimo, the winner of the Graham S Brand Award for 2020. The award is given each year in memory of my old writing partner Graham Brand. This year marked the 25th year that the prize has been given. Congratulations, Paola, on being this years winner.
When I say “meet” of course in this strange new world I mean I met Paolo over Microsoft Teams along with the Y2’s on Graham’s media course. Thanks to course tutor, Aasiya Lodhi, for arranging the event and my lecture to the students. Mrs Brand, Graham’s lovely mum, is strictly non-digital and sadly couldn’t join us online.
If you’ve not read about it on this website before, the Graham S. Brand Award is given to a student from the School of Media and Communication at the University of Westminster where Graham enjoyed three happy years while doing his degree. The award is given for a piece of outstanding writing or feature work done during the second year of the course. The winner is selected by Mrs Sheila Brand and myself.
Paola’s winning entry, a ten minute audio / visual piece looked at the work of therapy dogs and their impacts on the people that they help.
Paola explained why she’d chosen therapy dogs as her subject: “I have a real passion for dogs, so I knew I wanted to focus on them in some way. After researching working dogs in my area I stumbled across Nicola Edwards and her therapy dog Brian. After checking out her website and seeing all of the incredible work that they do together I knew that they would be the perfect focal point for my digital storytelling piece.”
After Paola had secured her interview with Nicola, I she began to research other dog experts. “I thought it would be good to hear from an expert to explain why dogs are important, so I found the doggy de-stress company and interviewed the owner in Central London. . Through my dad’s contacts at Gatwick I secured an interview with the Gatwick Airport Explosives Team, and asked them about what they would look for in their dogs compared to a therapy dog, and I thought this worked well as a nice contrast. I also contacted the university’s psychology lecturers who put me in touch with other therapists who uses animal assisted therapy so that worked really well too! I also sat in on my friend’s dog training session to get some dog sounds for the background, and also to record the introduction and set the story.”
Great features are often made in the editing suite. In this case, Paola edited the audio first: “I think I was a bit too ruthless with the editing to be honest! But after I let each clip “breathe” a bit, I think the end result turned out well! After I was happy with the audio I put it onto premiere pro and edited the visuals. As I didn’t have a visual recorded interview with every person, I really had to make sure the images I used created a proper picture for the viewers so I tried to match them up as best as I could. For example: when Nicola mentions that she “talks through Brian” I zoomed into Brian’s face to really visualise this for the viewer and add more of an effect.”
Well done to Paola who is a worthy winner of the award and the cash prize that goes with it. What are her hopes for the future? “Coming into university, my dream was to be a radio presenter. I would also love to get into voice-over work. Through work experience from my university I’ve discovered how much I love the social media & marketing side of radio, and I would love to go into a graduate scheme in this area. So I guess we’ll see what happens!”
Thank you, Paola, and congratulations again.