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Louisa Rose Mackleston of Northern Fortress launches We're Rolling

Reported by Yusef Alam on the 14th of November 2022

A BRADFORD filmmaker is hoping to help young people get their foot in the door after launching a new competition.

Louisa Rose Mackleston, from Keighley, has announced We’re Rolling – a competition open to budding filmmakers in education Years 7 to 13. Louisa – who has her own production company, Northern Fortress – said the competition will help to address the skills gap.

“Bradford is the first UNESCO City of Film, which is an amazing achievement, so it’s important we nurture our talent,” said Louisa, 27. “We have to make sure Bradford is celebrated – rather than being famous for the negative headlines.”

Louisa is well-known for her directorial debut, Ruth & Safiya – a 15-minute short set in Bradford about an “unlikely” friendship between an isolated British pensioner and a teenage refugee from Syria.

Both Ruth & Safiya and its director have gone worldwide. The film has been screened as far away as Korea, while Louisa’s career has seen her visit the likes of Australia and Japan to meet other production companies and to film documentaries.

Ruth & Safiya was released last year (Image: Louisa Rose Mackleston)

“It’s a very difficult industry to get into, but it just takes that one break,” said Louisa. “I hope We’re Rolling can help young people gain skills and confidence and see what the film industry is like to work in.”

Louisa’s desire to help mould the next generation of filmmakers stems from the fact she had to overcome barriers herself.

“I want to be the person I didn’t have,” she said. “I never had opportunities like this, no one told me filmmaking was a viable career. “I let myself get pulled into a psychology degree, which wasn’t creative and therefore something I inevitably didn’t enjoy. “My main barrier, though, has been my health. I have a chronic pain condition and have had to make adjustments.

“Being a woman, you’re underrepresented in the industry, too. It feels it isn’t built for a lot of people, but that culture is changing.” We’re Rolling is asking participants to tell their stories of Bradford – whether set in the past, present or the future, and whether fiction, non-fiction or animation.

“We’re hoping We’re Rolling can be annual, that way we can continue to support young people in Bradford,” Louisa added.

Louisa is already working on her next projects – a documentary on Roukagia Afan, a young, female, Muslim friend of hers who is of mixed Syrian and Ukrainian heritage, as well as a drama on toxic masculinity and nightclub violence. For more information on We’re Rolling, visit


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