Meet the Sparks Team

Meet our team of dynamic, passionate and creative film and media educators…

Dan Farrell, Founder & Director 

Dan is one of Sparks Film School’s original founders, launching the first film school in 2010. Dan oversees operations at Sparks Film School and leads the Head Office, Franchising and Sparks Communities teams. He has been a film educator for over 15 years and loves seeing new ideas come to fruition. He is also co-author of The Movie Making Book and is a member of the board at Drunken Chorus and a mentor for Arts Emergency.

Favourite Film: Pan’s Labyrinth

Donna Bamford-Pringle, Founder & Director

Donna is one of the original founders and oversees programming and marketing activities at Sparks Film School. She has been involved in film and media education for over 15 years, after training at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Donna is also a fiction writer and screenwriter. Along with Dan, she is co-author of The Movie Making Book and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.  

Favourite Film: Casablanca 

Sheena Holliday, Creative Consultant

Sheena is an independent filmmaker and theatre maker, who has been working with Sparks since 2012. Sheena has worked with thousands of young filmmakers and as a writer-director, her films have been screened all over the world. At Sparks, Sheena leads on our creative content, including our film, photography and animation programmes. Sheena also runs a theatre company and charity which focuses on making theatre accessible to all.

Favourite Film: Jaws

Connor McCreedy, Programme Coordinator 

Connor is Programme Coordinator at Sparks Head Office. His passion has always been in Film, TV, and Theatre. Connor’s background is as a professional actor, having toured the UK and abroad with Theatre UK Award winning companies, touring with Shakespeare productions, and appearing in Netflix Feature Films. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. Connor loves being surrounded by such a creative and inspiring team who really care about Sparks students’ creative development.

Favourite Film: The Truman Show

Amar Sodhi, Regional Director

After a successful career in business, Amar pursued his lifelong love of the silver screen and his ambition to become a screenwriter.

Amar is a passionate storyteller, as well as an advocate for youth creativity. He strongly believes in the value of creative learning for young people and in the value of celebrating individual strengths. He hopes to encourage Sparks students to follow their dreams and aspirations, whatever they may be.

Amar is a Regional Director, responsible for Sparks Film Schools in Chiswick, Richmond, Wimbledon and (soon to be) Ealing. He works alongside partner Baljit to run courses and activities across the West London region.

Baljit Sodhi, Regional Director 

Baljit works alongside Amar, where she oversees Sparks Film School activities across West London, including Chiswick, Richmond, Wimbledon and (soon to be) Ealing.

As a mum to young filmmakers, Baljit is especially motivated to inspire and to provide opportunities for skills development to children interested to learn about film and media. She knows first-hand how filmmaking can transform confidence and spark a love for learning.

Baljit likes to run a smooth ship and brings lots of organisational and management skills to the team, having previously enjoyed a successful career in business and insurance.

Jess Mason, Operations Manager 

A keen filmmaker as a teenager, Jess first started working in creative youth projects in 2010, leading youth art and culture engagement projects with young people. She has a degree in Art and Creative Writing with a focus on moving image and script writing. Jess has managed youth projects including community arts, cooking, ceramics, painting, media, music, drama and carnivals. These projects have always had a focus on building confidence and resilience in young people by encouraging them to try new things and develop new skills. She loves seeing all the amazing projects the young people at Sparks create.

Favourite Film: Son Of Rambow

Pedro Diegues, Head of Sparks Film School Hampstead & Highgate

Pedro has spent the last decade globetrotting, letting his passion for film, theatre and education decide his next destination. Teaching filmmaking in America, writing and directing theatre productions across Australiasia and creating and delivering an English and Media curriculum in China. Every continent has confirmed there’s nothing more gratifying and unpredictable than working with the next generation of storytellers. Pedro began his journey at Sparks as a workshop leader, but now you can find him managing the Hampstead and Highgate film schools, where he loves building a community of filmmakers and artists. 

Favourite Film: Into the Spider-Verse

Mark Piper, Sparks Dorking

Mark Piper, Head of Sparks Film School Dorking, Leatherhead & Reigate 

Mark has been teaching media and film for over 20 years; as well as having had extensive experience working in the film and TV industries. He is driven by a passion for the moving image and takes inspiration from the creativity and imagination of the children he teaches. “Kids see the world in unique ways and their imaginations know no limits. Providing them with the tools and skills to unlock their creativity is both a privilege and a joy. Primarily filmmaking should be fun so by encouraging their passions and helping them to discover their skills, we will be nurturing the story makers of the future!’’ 

Favourite Film: Jaws

Sparks Islington - Tom Mavro

Tom Mavro-Michaelis, Head of Sparks Film School Islington & Finsbury Park 

Tom has over 20 years of experience as a film educator, drawing on his experience in media production and as a videographer. Tom specialises in post-production training for Film, TV and online media. Originally from Keighley in West Yorkshire, Tom attended Newcastle University, where he gained a BA Hons in History, and later Bradford University where he gained a BSC Hons in Electronic Imaging and Media Communication. Tom is married with two children. Has a passion for film and television, literature and sport.

Favourite Film: Apocalypse Now

Sallianne Foster-Major, Head of Sparks Film School Sheffield  

Sallianne has over 30 years experience as an educator, specialising in creative work with young people. Alongside running Sparks Film School in Sheffield, Sallianne is a qualified teacher and the Artistic Director of a large youth theatre. Sallianne’s passion is to pass on skills to the younger generation and to prepare them with a multitude of skills for our ever changing creative world. 

Favourite Film: Everyone’s Talking About Jamie

Matt Toogood, Head of Sparks Film School Guildford

As a Film and Media educator Matt is passionate about all things moving image. He is really excited to be the new Head of Sparks Film School in Guildford. Having lived and worked in the area for the last 15 years, he is looking forward to working with the community and building young people’s confidence.

Matt’s experience in television and documentary production has taught him that life can be unpredictable and inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places. He’s excited to help tell wildly imaginative stories from the minds of young creators.

Favourite Film: Good Will Hunting

Carey Thring, Head of Sparks Film School South Croydon 

Carey has been an avid consumer of films of all genres since childhood, and has been making films as an actor, producer, writer and director for over 20 years… and would have loved to have started earlier!

He enjoys collaborating with creative people of all ages and is really excited about working with the budding film makers of Croydon!

Favourite Film: Carey has very eclectic film taste, but his ultimate favourite film is Michael Mann’s Heat.

Teresa Taylor, Head of Sparks Film School Yarm, Nunthorpe & Northallerton 

First and foremost Teresa is a mother of two young children of primary and secondary school ages. A lawyer in an earlier career, more recently fully embracing her creative nature as an actress, award winning writer and filmmaker. Other interests include a love of seeking adventure and exploring the outdoors, hill walking and a keen equestrian. Teresa is driven by a strong desire to bring inspirational and exciting opportunities and experiences to young, fun creative minds in the North East.

Favourite Film: Little Miss Sunshine

Kate Klevit, Co-Head of Sparks Film School St Albans  

Prior to becoming the new Head at Sparks in St Albans, Kate worked at Sparks Film School in Highgate as a Master Workshop Leader for over 6 years, where she worked with Studios 4 and 5 to produce award-winning short films.

Kate has also worked as a location manager for film and photo shoots, she’s worked on film sets for various media jobs and has also been in the PR and media industry, working on projects like the BFI London Film Festival.

Favourite Film: Sunset Boulevard

Elliot Jones, Co-Head of Sparks Film School St Albans

Elliot has always had a love for creating things! Making food, films and video games are all passions of his. He has previously worked on various campaigns with and for children and as a Head Chef, he previously worked at one of the top restaurants in London. He loves working alongside Kate and is passionate about the St Albans community. He enjoys working with lots of different people and paying attention to all the details so that Sparks in St Albans can best serve young creatives in their local community.

Favourite Film: Old Boy

Meet Audra, Head of Sparks Film School in Glasgow South

Audra Merrick, Head of Sparks Film School Glasgow South

With experience spanning arts education and more than 20 years working in digital media, Audra brings a passion for film, storytelling and helping young people to develop creatively to Sparks Film School Glasgow South.

In addition to Sparks, she hosts the Glasgow chapter of CreativeMornings, one of the largest in-person creative communities in the world.

After bouncing around Austin, New York and London, Audra is now based on the South-side of Glasgow. Though a big fan of hiking in the hills around Scotland with her family, she not-so-secretly appreciates the rainy Scottish weather as the perfect excuse for staying in to watch films.

Favourite Film: O Brother Where Art Thou?

Jag Kaley, Head of Sparks Film School Brentwood

Jag fell in love with film when he was 4 years old and found himself transported to a galaxy far, far away. The greatest space opera ever made (Star Wars, in case you hadn’t guessed!) allowed him to join Luke Skywalker on his adventures fighting the dark side and bringing balance to the universe. “Films leave a lasting impression and influence us beyond the time we spent watching the movie.’’ Jag is passionate to provide workshops that help to bring out the inner hero that exists within all of us, inspiring a new generation of filmmakers whilst helping them to gain new skills and fulfil their untapped potential!

Favourite Film: Star Wars Saga

Tim Berry, Head of Sparks Film School Bournemouth & Poole

Tim is a writer, filmmaker and musical theatre performer based in Dorset. A graduate of the National Film and Television School, Tim has worked across production, film distribution, exhibition and home entertainment, and later focused on script development, as well as becoming a Dad to four young girls. He continues to work creatively behind the camera, as well as unleashing his inner performer with the Poole Lighthouse and The Regent Centre and directing award-winning local theatre productions. Tim loves to share his passion for storytelling and developing the creativity of young people in Bournemouth and Poole.

Favourite Film: Amadeus

Meet Marta, the new Head of Sparks Film School Chelsea and Fulham

Marta Lopez, Head of Sparks Film School Chelsea & Fulham

Marta has been teaching for more than twenty years, with a great passion for cinema.

With a BA in Film and Media Studies and a diploma in Screenwriting from the ICM (Institute of Cinema in Madrid), Marta’s heart has been with film for a long time.

She believes that her extensive teaching experience and her infatuation for anything related to the fascinating world of movies makes for a perfect combination to inspire the filmmakers of the future.

Louisa Cunningham, Head of Sparks Film School Walthamstow and Stoke Newington  

Louisa is a highly experienced media educator, with over 20 years experience as a qualified teacher. She loves to inspire and empower young people to create and to share their own voices and views of the world.

As a parent to a young filmmaker herself, Louisa started out as a parent of Sparks Film School, before becoming the Head of Sparks in Walthamstow and later in Stoke Newington. She loves living in the creative community of East London and seeks to champion young creatives from across the boroughs of Walthamstow and Hackney.

Favourite Film: Too many to count!

Deb Bowater, Head of Sparks Film School Derbyshire North

Deb is the new Head of Sparks in North Derbyshire, where she’s excited to welcome young creatives to take part in Sparks film and media courses.

As a mum, and with a background in education, Deb keenly understands the need for creative, extra-curricular opportunities for children in the local area.

Deb loves to help boost confidence and skills, as well as to make sure that – whatever their passions might be – local children in North Derbyshire have the opportunity to thrive.

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