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This week, we feature the shocking film of the rise and fall of one of Instagram’s first super-influencers with BBC One's documentary "Bad Influencer - the Great Insta Con", Wednesday 30th 10:35pm.

By 23, Australian wellness guru Belle Gibson had cultivated an adoring global following online with the story that she had successfully treated her own terminal cancer by eating a plant-based diet and using alternative natural therapies. But there was one problem with Belle’s story: she had never had cancer.

Seen through the eyes of those who adored her and those who exposed her, this film lifts the lid on one of social media’s great mysteries: who was the real Belle Gibson – an ingenious con artist or damaged young woman trapped in a lie?

Talent Manager chatted to TM member, Ziyaad Desai (Producer/Director), on the making of the show and what he learnt:

Give us an insight into the making of the show? 

'Bad Influencer' tells the story of the rise and fall of Belle Gibson, one of Instagram’s first super-influencers. 

This was a project of many firsts for me! It was my first retrospective archive & interview story, my first single, my first film made entirely during lockdown, and my first experience remote filming, with half the interviews being done in Australia.
Having shot obs docs for a long time, it was a great chance to try something different, and even though there wasn't a wealth of archive out there for us, the story was a cracker so we could have fun plotting out the twists and turns.

Filming through a covid winter made things quite tricky. Relationships with contributors had to be formed and maintained by Zoom, and b-roll had to be shot largely in parks! I missed the connection that you can build from hanging out with a contributor over a cup of tea.
But on the plus side, it was a formative learning experience - working with a wonderful editor and execs, I've learnt a lot about disciplined storytelling and how to get something compelling from limited material. 

How did you get the job?

I'd been trying to make the step from Producer to Director for a while, and telling everyone who would listen that I was ready. So when I got a place on the BBC New DIrectors scheme in 2019, I went straight to Minnow and asked if I could make a film with them. They were incredibly supportive - developing ideas with me until we got a commission.
Minnow is my favourite place to work. It's a family atmosphere, and everyone cares deeply about making the best possible film. Our commissioner, the BBC's Emily Smith, was also brilliantly supportive and collaborative.

What is your top TV tip?

My tip is two-fold, and it's aimed at new directors: be confident, trust your gut instinct and fight for the things you believe will make the film great, but also be receptive to ideas and advice from team members because filmmaking is a joyously collaborative medium.

Bad Influencer - the Great Insta Con, BBC ONE, Wednesday 30th 10:35pm.



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