Media graduate who struggled to get work during pandemic sets up production company and makes film on mental health in farming

A former media student who felt despondent by the job market in lockdown has set up her own production company and is shortly releasing a documentary on mental health issues in farming.

Erin Smith, 22, from Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, founded her business in October last year after months of struggling to find work in the media industry.

With a few small projects to kick-start her portfolio, the graduate is now working on her first big film: Unearthing Farming Lives - a documentary about the challenges and positives of farming in the north east of Scotland.

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Using her camera, Erin follows the lives of two farmers in Aberdeenshire to capture an understanding of some of the mental health issues that exist within the farming and wider agricultural industry.

Every week in the UK a farmer dies by taking his or her own life.

Last year, 84 per cent of farmers under 40 said mental health was the biggest danger facing the industry, according to the Farm Safety Foundation.

Erin’s documentary exposes these issues, which are still rarely talked about in some parts of the country, and offers insight on how farmers can get help.

“Even if this film can help one farmer, help someone, then I will feel like it’s done what I set out to do with it,” she said.

Erin Smith, 22, bottom right and Tom Johnson left with his granddaughter Georgia Milne who both feature in the film picture: Erin Smith

The former Robert Gordon University student spent a lot of her childhood on a farm near Monymusk that her grandfather, Henry Smith managed.

He sold it when he retired, but the filmmaker still feels emotionally invested in the industry and those who work in it.

“I would hate to think of my grandfather going through mental health struggles in silence, on his own, with no help and all the daily pressures of farming,” she said.

“You wouldn’t necessarily think that farmers go through these mental health difficulties day to day on top of all the work they have to do with the animals and crops, but they really do, so I think it’s an important topic to be opening up and talking about more.”

Tom Johnston who features in the documentary with his granddaughter Georgia Milne picture: Erin Smith

The film, which was all shot and edited by Erin herself, is set to be released in May or early June this year.

It was made on behalf of NFU Scotland, Robort Gordon University, Samaritans and Aberdeenshire Council.

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