Entertainment to Change the World: OKRE Summit 2024

Hosted by acclaimed TV journalist Mishal Husain, the hugely successful OKRE Summit 2024 consisted of a full day of vibrant panels and featured experts from a wide range of sectors and backgrounds, all brought together by the common goal of how best to drive positive change and social impact through media and entertainment.

"There are parts that drama reaches which the rest of us can’t"

Mishal Husain

Award-winning broadcaster, presenter and author

Session 1

Discussion: Great Show, Great Impact: Mr Bates vs The Post Office

The day kicked off with a focus on one of the most popular and “powerful” TV dramas of the year; Mr Bates vs The Post Office. We were lucky enough to be joined not only by talented producers and TV professionals Natasha Bondy, Polly Hill and Patrick Spence, but also by Jo Hamilton, a former subpostmistress. Jo brought true authenticity to the panel via her lived experience of the ordeal and her appreciation of the case being dramatised for a large audience and the resulting societal impact. As eloquently summarised by Mishal Hussain, “there are parts that drama reaches which the rest of us can’t”.

Session 2

Discussion: What’s next for Mental Health & Entertainment?

On the back of harrowing statistics regarding entertainment and mental health, the expert panel of Dom Matthews, Andy Brereton, Kate Martin and Marcus Ryder shared some inspiration on how best to remove the stigma behind mental health issues through entertainment, by displaying the “messy, funny challenges of living with mental health” and showing it in a “normalised positive everyday light” (Kate Martin).

"That's the reality of living with mental health challenges, it's messy, funny and difficult"

Kate Martin

Head of Lived Experience, Wellcome Trust

Session 3

OKRE Focus: My Blonde GF

Next up, Abisoye Adelusi hosted our first OKRE Focus panel on Rebecca Mark-Lawson and Rosie Morris’ short film My Blonde GF. Along with third panel member Dr Afroditi Pin, we looked into how My Blonde GF shows the deeply traumatic mental impact of non-consensual deepfake revenge pornography through the eyes and emotions of someone who has lived through it, and how best to support the person with lived experience when producing films on such sensitive issues.

Session 4

In Conversation: Changing the world together: Supporting long term impact in film, games and television

We then hosted an interlude in the form of a conversation between BAFTA’s Sara Putt and OKRE’s own Iain Dodgeon. Sara Putt shared that “people really do want to understand the social impact” and that small initiatives can make huge differences. Research taken of a BBC audience showed that the mere fact that they watched a film awards show meant that two thirds of them were more likely to go to the cinema to consume content.

Session 5

Discussion: Sex in the morning: shifting depictions and modern perspectives

Jeff Ingold, Isabel Inman, Sarah McCaffrey, Ita O’Brien and Sam Joly shared their insights within our bold discussion “Sex in the Morning: shifting depictions and modern perspectives”. It focused on how the modern film industry is paying more attention to the comfort and mental health of those involved in intimacy on screen, to change historically “quite exploitative” (Sam Joly) sex scenes and, in the words of Isabel Inman, to promote visible “condom use, condom use, condom use!”. 

Session 6

OKRE Focus: Windrush Tales

Abisoye Adelusi then took us on a journey through the creation of Corey Brotherson’s “Windrush Tales”; a game focusing upon the trials and tribulations of the Windrush generation. This panel covered the fact that independent games studios are still very much needed to address societal issues which are often overlooked by the larger gaming industry, and how important it is to speak to those with lived experience to create an authentic gaming experience.



Session 7

Beyond Drama: Lessons from representation in entertainment

This lively panel talk from passionate experts Hassan Akkad, Imran Hussain, Hamid Ibrahim, Ruby Kuraishe, Sarah Asante and K Biswas challenged us to think about how we approach real representation within entertainment. It covered topics from how drama may be the better medium to represent refugee issues as news outlets can often be seen as biased, to the controversy over diversity “quotas” (Hassan Akkad), all the way to how Hollywood itself was “built by migrants” (K Biswas).

“Audiences are living, breathing people … different people want different stories”

Fatima Salaria

TV Executive

Session 8

Discussion: How do we shift storytelling with audiences

“Audiences are living, breathing people … different people want different stories” (Fatima Salaria). Our discussion on how to shift storytelling with audiences gave us new perspectives on how to truly connect with different audiences through entertainment and media and the tangible effect that this has on society. Maxine Thomas-Asante asked the pertinent question “How can we meet people where they already are?”, and together with Tara Davanzati, Fatima Salaria, Frederica Conrey and Dhruti Shah brought a wealth of ideas as to how to “move forward into a shared future together with the audiences” (Frederica Conrey).

Session 9

OKRE Focus: Motherboard

Abisoye Adelusi again helped us to zoom in on another OKRE Focus – Motherboard – through a discussion with Victoria Mapplebeck and Debbie Manners. The panel discussed whether movies must be based upon a “big epic story” as requested by many producers, or whether stories which may widely be seen as mundane might have the potential to create tender, relatable and meaningful productions. Motherboard showed the latter can absolutely be true, as it showed how “epic” and captivating these real-life journeys can be.

Session 10

Discussion: Think digitally, think generationally, think differently

Here we were joined by Glaire Anderson, Dr Marcia Brophy, Sofia Akel and Lorraine Ní Annracháin for some fascinating insights into how younger generations are more likely to engage with media and entertainment directly from independent creators, from “gaming to podcasting, comedy to TikTok”. Lorraine Ní Annracháin, from Spotify, shared that a huge percentage of Gen Z and Millennials view audio as a mental health resource. We were shown how this has resulted in Spotify partnering with UNICEF to create free and accessible mental health podcast resources aimed at young people.

Session 11

OKRE Focus: Black Dog

For our last OKRE Focus, George Jaques and Rhianna Dhillon took us through the journey behind OKRE-supported film Black Dog, focusing on the paramount importance of showing vulnerable children as a whole character with skills and hobbies, “not just [as] grieving children, they are so much more than that”. The discussion looked into how best to implement lived experience from children sensitively without “sensationalising” their difficult experiences, and how not every story needs to have a defined beginning or happy ending in order to have an impact.

Session 12

A Kind Queer Heart: Empowering and Funding New Stories

We were proud to host a full panel of 5 industry experts for this panel based around OKRE’s new #KindQueerHeart initiative. From Hannah Jarrett-Scott giving insights on how to portray authenticity on screen by utilising her own lived experience, to Antonia Belcher emphasising the wish of many trans people to be shown in a “normal” light as others are are within the media, we were provided with a variety of insights. The key takeaway from this panel – featuring Elle Osili-Wood, Daniel Edwards and David Brindley – was the focus on a need for authenticity when it comes to representation of those who are LGBTQ+ and the huge impact that this can have on the wellbeing of the community.

Wrap Up

Performance by Jordan Gray

To wrap up the day, we were joined by the vivacious Jordan Gray for a hilarious comedy-infused musical performance which left the attendees laughing out loud and ended the jam-packed schedule on a high. Speakers and guests then had time to mingle over drinks and refreshments, making new connections and sowing the seeds of potential collaborations as the day came to a close.

We want to thank you all for attending, for engaging with our discussions and for bringing such fantastic energy to the day. We felt it was a hugely thought-provoking, uplifting and inspiring day and from our feedback it seems as though you did too.

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