Where Are You Now?

Adam Patterson

Adam Patterson

BA (Hons) Film & Media Studies (2004)

Adam Patterson is a screenwriter, director, and photographer. He has worked extensively for the BBC on flagship programmes. Most recently he filmed and directed a documentary in Iran for Channel 4 foreign affairs strand, Unreported World. He has made several short format films for various NGOs across Africa and frequently lectures on photography at universities and galleries. In his own words Adam says, ‘I have spent many years making current affairs documentaries for the BBC and other international news outlets. I now write drama screenplays, often based on these experiences.’

Within his current role Adam has had the opportunity to travel around the world, we asked Adam what his greatest achievement to date was, ‘Probably when I covered the Chile Miners’ Crisis for BBC Panorama. It was my first big chance for the BBC, and I was sent off to the Atacama Desert for 6 weeks. Very much a sink or swim moment.’ However, Adam confesses that it was not all plain sailing and says that his biggest challenge to date were the years after graduation. ‘I spent a lot of time working menial jobs in order to sustain and progress my creative aspirations. It would have been much easier to quit. So my biggest challenge was myself, and constantly finding new ways to maintain confidence and reassurance.’

Adam joined the University of Sunderland in September 2001, studying Film & Media Studies and graduating with the class of 2004. We asked Adam what attracted him to study at the University of Sunderland and he replied, ‘I was attracted to the range of practical production modules on offer.  The media department had also relocated to the impressive St Peters campus, with excellent facilities.’ He also recalled that a key influence during his time at university was tutor Elaine Drainville. ‘My tutor Elaine Drainville was a big inspiration to me. She introduced me to investigative current affairs journalism and encouraged me to find a way to work in that world.’

When asked about his future plans Adam replied, ‘To keep telling stories about the world we live in. Most of my time now is spent screenwriting with a close friend of mine. We recently wrote on the upcoming second series of the BBC drama McMafia, and are currently across other BBC and Channel 4 drama projects. We’ve also written and will soon direct our first short film, so we’ll be aiming to take that to Sundance, and then an Oscar or two. Why not?!’

We asked Adam for a piece of advice that he would give to recent graduates, ‘Persistence. Life after graduation is never easy, and it’s not supposed to be. Working in the creative world can be a hugely liberating experience, but it doesn’t come easily.’

We would like to thank Adam for sharing his story with the University of Sunderland Alumni Association. If you would like to share your story with us then you can contact us at alumni@sunderland.ac.uk or alternatively you can complete the ‘Where are you now’ questionnaire here.

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