Inspirational Woman: Beatrix Wood | Producer & Director, TrixPixMedia Ltd.

Beatrix WoodI make films, write and paint. I established TrixPixMedia Ltd in 2011 when I moved to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. We make documentary films for the UK and international markets.

Our latest film Maorach – Hebridean Shellfish is currently on BBC iPlayer. It explores how the best shellfish in the world is caught here in the Hebrides and exported live to Spain, how top chefs cook with it, and what happens when Brexit paralyses the supply chain.

Before that, I ran Aurora Films Ltd for 20 years and in parallel ran a land management business for 10 years in Cornwall. My passion for creative work is equalled by a passion for working on the land. For 20 years, I have bred native cattle. Farming inspired my documentaries San Fhuil/It’s In The Blood, The Highland Cattle of Ardbhan and The Power of Yoik, which I made for BBC Alba.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I wrote my first story at the age of 7, I knew that’s what I wanted to do and when I did Art A-level, I knew I wanted to paint. The sense of telling a story through words and images evolved when I went to film school in Manchester. My ambition was to direct feature films, which proved difficult. I served an apprenticeship in production in London before setting up my first production company. I began working across Europe as a Screenwriter and Producer and made many award-winning political documentaries with a Finnish Director that were distributed worldwide.  

When the constraints of financing films proved creatively frustrating, I began writing in different formats – fiction, poetry, articles – and creating short films which helped me find my voice.

When I started TrixPixMedia Ltd, I wrote a business plan which defined where we were navigating to and how we were going to get there. It worked, and we are now into the next stage of growth.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I have faced multiple production challenges across Siberia, Mumbai, Lapland and most recently with Covid-19, along with experiencing the nepotism and sexism of the film industry, but anyone involved in filmmaking has to have the resilience to problem solve and overcome these situations.

TrixPixMedia Behind The ScenesOne of the biggest challenges I faced was a head injury in a car accident in the late 1990’s which affected my language and cognition and knocked my career out for several years. I feared I would never be able to move freely again or write all the stories I had in my head. As I adapted to a new sense of self, I began painting and through this evolved my creative practice. I embraced digital technology with my cameras. Ultimately, this has enabled me to realise my ambitions, albeit in a different way from the one I had originally envisaged.

The second biggest challenge was my husband becoming critically ill two months after we moved to the Outer Hebrides and subsequently dying. I had just set TrixPixMedia up and was suddenly the sole parent of two young children with a house, studio, barn and business to build. I channelled the life skills I had learnt after the car accident to help me find a way forward. Ultimately, hard work was a redemptive – and productive – way through the grief.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Two things. The first is overcoming technophobia and adopting a 4K digital workflow. This has enabled me to become a self-shooting documentary director and grow the business from an island base. I have made more films in the last 6 years that in the whole of the rest of my career. The second was designing and building the studio, house and barn so I can work all hours whilst tending my family and animals.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Tenacity.  And humour!

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is crucial. I lacked mentors in my early career. I now actively seek mentoring through my Executive Producers and professional advisers like Executive Coach Tracy Forsyth. Margaret Mary Murray has been Executive Producer on my recent films. She is Head of Inclusion at BBC Scotland and her encouragement has been tremendous.

I have mentored many people – from young editors to writers and directors – and it’s great to see them fulfilling their ambitions. I was recently Executive Producer on Anthony Baxter’s Eye Of The Storm and Producer on his feature doc Flint, both for BBC Scotland. It was a pleasure to see him win the BAFTA Scotland Specialist Factual Award last autumn with Eye Of The Storm. I also offer opportunities for people to step-up into new roles.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

50:50 equal representation of women and men on and off screen at all levels. It’s taken a very very long time for commissioning and management to begin to redress the imbalances. I worked for many years in the Nordic countries and when I returned to the UK it felt like the Dark Ages. And often still does. There is protectionism around certain roles, especially technical ones, and the archetypes for women in stories is so often limited by the patriarchal story arcs based on the Hero’s Journey.  From Netflix’s Maid to Chloe Fairweather’s Dying To Divorce and Sophie Willan’s Alma’s Not Normal, it’s refreshing to see a broadening of what and TrixPixMedia Behind The Sceneshow stories are told.  It’s also important that we envision stories beyond the limits of the society we live in to encourage positive role models for audiences. There’s a wealth of story-telling traditions from around the world to draw on for inspiration.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

To have the courage of my convictions. When I was younger, I lacked confidence and was constantly a right-hand to male directors and getting knocked back when I tried to get my own films off the ground. It was only after my husband died and I saw how short life can be that I summoned the courage to do what I most wanted to do.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My challenge in 2022 is to complete two feature documentaries, HomeMovie and The Steading, which tell powerful stories about “homes” from unique points of view . It’s great to have the encouragement of Executive Producer John Archer on these films. I want to elevate the scope of the films we make and grow the production team so that TrixPixMedia can expand the markets we are active in, the audiences we attract and the sales we make.

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