Thomas Payton-Greene – samaanata

Thomas Payton-Greene
Safiya Noor Dhanani

  • Business / Project: Thomas Payton-Greene – samaanata
  • Category: Film
  • College: Manchester Metropolitan University

samaanata brings together an experienced documentary filmmaker with a medical student and international advocate for tackling gender-based violence, to fill a gap in the creative exploration and representation of the root causes of violence against women in India and launch careers coupling social justice issues with artistic practice. This project builds on an existing pilot documentary project in urban and rural settings in Maharashtra. Explorations of gender roles, concepts of masculinity and femininity, and notions of violence through film will act as a platform for critical engagement and education in both India and the UK.

Winner : 2016


What advice would you offer to potential applicants?

"I would say that even if you don’t win, it is so so valuable to go through this process. Only by applying for stuff like this do you realistically face up to the question of ‘what do I really want to do?’ In the worst case scenario you come away with a project which is ready to go or develop further and look elsewhere for funding opportunities. I never in a million years thought I would win, and look at me now. My top tips for applying are: Give yourself plenty of time. It takes so much longer than you think it will. The longer you give yourself, the more you’ll enjoy it and give your idea the justice it deserves. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t find a project idea, it took me months to find something I wanted to go with. Be brave and pick something ambitious. It always helps to do a project which is inclusive and has some depth to it. The thing that really got me going was the fact that our project would really make a difference. Other people will see the value in that too. Talk to your peers and tutors. They should be able to help a lot. My tutors gave feedback on our project plan and once we were shortlisted, we did a practice pitch to a panel of people from the university, this was so significant in our win!" - Thomas Payton-Greene

Thomas Payton-Greene Case Study

What was your winning business/project idea?

I applied for DBACE because one of my tutors was putting a lot of pressure on me to do so! He had won previously despite thinking he didn’t have a chance and so was a huge advocate of ‘you have to be in it to win it’.

I also wanted to apply as throughout university I did lots of work experience in the film industry and was never really happy with any of the routes presented. So getting funding for a specific personal project was my ideal next step.

I won a cool trophy, £10,000 start up grant for our project, a business mentor and a free 2 day business course.

What did winning the Award mean to you and how did it help launch your career?

I would say that one of the biggest impacts from winning is the shot of confidence and faith in yourself. It has legitimized what I want to do as an artist. That is so valuable. Winning DBACE helped me take a huge step into a direction I really wanted to go in but didn’t have the confidence or structure. Its opened up a whole new world. I think the best approach for DBACE is ask yourself, what would be my dream project? Try make that happen!

What skills did you develop as a result of DBACE?

  • Confidence
  • Creativity / innovation
  • Presenting your work / ideas
  • Developing business plans / funding applications
  • Articulating your ideas / creative vision

What have been your greatest achievements since winning the Award?

After winning DBACE, Safiya and myself did the short business training and then began our first stage which was research and skill sharing. We worried that we had to get straight in and do our proposed one year plan but it is much more flexible than that. And of course you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket, so we had quite a lot of existing plans in place – Safiya was starting as a junior doctor and I was planning to do a voluntary placement as part of research for the project. Now we have completed this initial stage of research, which was incredibley valuable, we are currently working on our first year strategic plan and how we are actually going to make this happen. We are both working full time whilst doing as much work as possible towards getting our project off the ground! Right now we are working on the DBACE crowdfunding scheme offered to DBACE Alumni which will hopefully get us some more funds!

For more information on this project/enterprise, please visit:

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