FILMS

FILMS

ABOUT

ABOUT

MUSIC

MUSIC

WRITING

WRITING

ABOUT

 

Sheila is a BAFTA and BAFTA Fulbright winning documentary filmmaker, and Director's Fellow at the MIT Media Lab. In 2010 ‘Mendelssohn, The Nazis and Me’ was nominated for the Grierson Award as Best Arts Documentary, in 2012 she wrote, produced and directed a multilingual miniseries about the Enlightenment which was seen by 150m people, and in 2014 she wrote and produced a major drama-documentary about the Targa Florio road race in Sicily. Luckily she is fluent in French and Italian, and passable in German.

 

Recently she has moved into digital media and music, with films, apps and other projects for the LSO, Arensky and other orchestras, and an augmented reality music app with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

 

As a writer she was Young Journalist of the Year, has had a column in the Guardian and published three novels. She also runs the therapeutic creative writing group at Freedom from Torture.

CV

CV

CONTACT

CONTACT

MRS NORMAL BLOG

MRS NORMAL BLOG

CAKE IN THE CLOUDS

CAKE IN THE CLOUDS

CAKE

CAKE

THINGS WE LIKE

THINGS WE LIKE

 

FILMS

 

Sheila has been writing, producing, directing and now shooting documentaries all her professional life. These are some of the award winning products of that relationship, from the prescient cultural commentary of ‘The Electronic Frontier’ and ‘A Short History of the Future’ to the global reach of ‘Heroes of the Enlightenment’ and ‘Pistons, Passions and Sicilian Pleasures’.

‘How to Build an Orchestra’

What does it take to make an orchestra - to make young musicians, trained to shine as soloists, collaborate as fluidly as a shoal of fish? That's the purpose of the orchestra that forms each May in the quiet country town of Chipping Campden. The students learn not just musical but social skills from both their mentors and the locals, who open their homes, organise everything from ticketing to the supply of missing shoes, and bake enough cake and flapjack to feed the ravenous army that makes the town anything but quiet for this one week.

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Pistons, Passions and Sicilian Pleasures

In the summer of 2014 I was asked to produce a big drama documentary about the historic Sicilian road race, the Targa Florio. In the end I wrote it, co-directed it, set up and conducted all the interviews in Italian, sourced all the archive stills and footage and made the assembly edit. I left the driving to the experts.

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Heroes of the Enlightenment, Episode 1

The first of a two-part miniseries made for BBC Worldwide, ARTE, Beijing TV and ORF that reached an audience of more than 100 million people. The challenge was to present this subject in a way that could be enjoyed by both those totally new to the subject, like the Chinese, and those to whom it was very familiar, like the French and Germans. It seems to have succeeded very well, though for a British audience it may seem talky. There was a lot of explaining to do!

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Heroes of the Enlightenment, Episode 2

The second and final episode in the story of how Europe freed itself from the tyranny of religion, through the stories of three (white, male) protagonists: the French mathematician Condorcet, the German despot Frederick 'the Great' and the American president and inventor Thomas Jefferson. The rushes are mine but the clumsy archive stills are not. So it goes.

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Mendelssohn, The Nazis And Me

The story of my ancestor Felix Mendelssohn, both Christian and Jew, and of the results of this mixed identity in his life and music, the lives of the family, and all Jews under Nazi Germany. It tells the story of how Mendelssohn was by turns adored and reviled, how the family was driven to desperate lengths to 'prove' the percentage of 'Aryan blood' in their veins under the Third Reich, how Jews were forbidden to listen to 'Aryan' music, and the extraordinary lengths to which the Nazi government went to replace Felix's beloved music to 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', Germany's favourite play.

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Horizon: The Electronic Frontier

Made in 1993, This was the first network documentary to tell the story of the digital revolution, then unfolding on the West Coast of America. From online communities to the vanishing High St, from invisible digital retouching and graphical user interfaces to copy-and-paste editing, it's all here. It also includes the first major interview with Bill Gates, then just a fresh-faced nerd in a Seattle office. (Seattle on this trip was also the first place I ever saw people queueing for coffee - in -10o, outside the first Starbucks).
Most 'visionary' books and films are at least partly wrong. This one wasn't. I'm proud of it.

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40 Minutes: Killer Bimboes on Fleet Street

In 1990 the editors of Fleet Street's infamous 'Tabloid Newspapers' The News of the World, The Sunday People, The Sun, Today and the Daily Mail were all women. Women were commissioning - and photographing - other women, half naked, for Page 3: women were commissioning, writing and editing the gossip and 'news stories' that trivialised and often debased other women. How could this be? Accompanied by a dauntless all-male crew and a KTOL filter for the close ups, I went to find out for the BBC - and the result, complete with ground-breaking visual effects, speaks for itself

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A Short History of the Future: The Spaceship

I made this film and its companion, 'The City' in 1986, having become curious as to where our shared images of the future came from - and where they were heading. Originally supposed to be a single film, it became two when I discovered the extraordinary story of the codependency of the film and space industries in 20th century America (and to this day). The movie business gave a concrete form to dreams of space travel before it even existed: the space industry gave the movies great stories in which dilemmas of the time were, and are, played out in allegory. And when the first Shuttle rolled down the tarmac, the band of the US Marines was playing - the theme from Star Trek.

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A Short History of the Future: The City

As a young film maker, I began to wonder where our image of 'the future' came from: all those self-driving cars, helicopters, domed cities, silver jumpsuits, skyscrapers, teleportation machines and automatic everything. I began to investigate and discovered that it all started at the turn of the twentieth century, a period every bit as exciting as our own, when motorcars, electricity, X-rays, cinema, the telephone, radio and metal framed building technology all arrived within the space of a couple of decades. I traced it back, and forwards - rather depressingly, to a world where all the work was done by machines, and we had become fat, idle and useless with our hands. Sound familiar?

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MUSIC

 
 

In 2010 ‘Mendelssohn, The Nazis and Me’ introduced Sheila to the pleasure of working with musicians. Since then she has made numerous films and digital projects, mostly but not all in the classical realm.

MUSIC FILMS

MUSIC FILMS

DIGITAL PROJECTS

DIGITAL PROJECTS

 

WRITING

 

Sheila won her first prize for writing via the Puffin Club at the age of 12: a day out with Spike Milligan, and a typewriter. Her next was Young Journalist of the Year, which led to various random commissions, of which her favourite was ‘London’s Best Croissants’ (Maison Bertaux,  Soho, by a mile). Other food journalism included the totally self-indulgent ’10 Best Brunches in LA’ courtesy of Conde Nast Traveller (luckily they didn’t all need to be consumed on the same day). She has also written for the Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, and Evening Standard.

 

She has published three comic novels and for the past ten years has taught creative writing as therapy in different organisations.

BOOKS

BOOKS

THERAPEUTIC WRITING

THERAPEUTIC WRITING

JOURNALISM

JOURNALISM