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Where Are You Now?

Mark Stuart Bell

Mark Stuart Bell

MA Journalism 2013

Mark Stuart Bell studied MA Journalism at the University of Sunderland in 2013 and after getting experience working in the video production industry, went on to co-found Second Draft Ltd. 

His company along with creative agency New World Designs produced the video for Sunderland’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. 

The film was commissioned by Sunderland Culture to mark the final presentation to the judging panel. But the bid team was very impressed by both companies that they wanted to see if it was possible to combine two of the things they like.

Second Draft was co-founded by Glen Colledge and Mark Stuart Bell in March 2017 within the Enterprise Place at the University of Sunderland. 

With a strong background in broadcast TV, news and commercial content, they bring a cinematic style and years of professional know-how to help businesses tell their story. 

Mark said: “When we read the brief from the Sunderland City of Culture 2021 bid team, asking for filmmakers to encapsulate the city in a five minute film it was both daunting and thrilling. It’s a challenge like no other. There’s so much you didn’t realise you didn’t know, impossible decisions to make about what to include, and the constant awareness of the size of your audience. 

“Our aim was to tell a little of the story of how Sunderland became the place it is today, and to consider where we could be in four years’ time if we made enough of a noise and put ourselves back on the map. Each new place we went to film we were overwhelmed with enthusiastic suggestions of what else we absolutely had to capture.” 

Talking about his experience as an entrepreneur, he said: “Self-employment is a lonely pursuit. Being a member of the Enterprise Place has made us feel part of something else, with people sharing the same experiences. 

“We'd spent nearly three years pitching and making programmes for TV and realised we could take the same skills, experience and knowhow and offer something smarter, deeper and better researched to businesses and organisations than the typical corporate film.

“For anyone who is interested in journalism or documentary, there are a number of stories you have to pursue. There are things you have discovered that you want to share, ideas that intrigue you and things that you can’t stop thinking about. At some point, you realise that to report those stories you need to have the freedom to explore them properly on your own terms.”

He added: "Everyone in the Enterprise team has believed in us and encouraged us, given us guidance and support.”

Asked about his best memory from his time at University, he said: “As part of the course we were tasked, as a group, with creating a concept for a new magazine. Rather than just keep it theoretical my class undertook a kick-starter to fund production and produced 3000 copies of Side Street a 'slow-travel' guide to the North East of England. We even had a magazine launch party!

“But best of all was getting a piece of 'fan mail' from Bill Bryson after I had mentioned him (lovingly!) in an article. None of that would have been possible without the influence and mentoring from Alex Lockwood; Lee Hall rescuing us from design hell, and Steve Nichols' constant support whenever we got stuck with the tech!”

Mark concluded: “In the future I see Second Draft creating documentary films that help people see the world in a new light, which surprise and inspire and them and makes them understand and empathise with people around them!”

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