Last year we made a film!

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Our current project for 13 – 25 year olds Kensington Stories, started last September, the first block of workshops focusing on recording oral histories from local residents, with the aim of making a documentary film about the local area.

Our living history projects usually focus on one estate at a time, but after the tragic Grenfell fire, we felt compelled to examine housing in the whole borough of Kensington.

We chose Kensal House (where we are based), Trellick Tower, Stanley Gardens, and Lancaster West (where Grenfell Tower is situated).

To find residents for the oral histories, we spoke to contacts we already had in the local area, such as past audience members, and workshop facilitators. We also went door knocking, and one of the SPID team happened to know a resident that was willing to be interviewed.

During our search for residents, we came across Vassiliki from Bramley House. Although she didn’t live in any of the estates we wanted to focus on, Bramley House is very close to Lancaster West Estate, and she was such a pillar of the local community that we felt we had to include her in the documentary.

The young people attended workshops to learn more about architecture and buildings, led by Eva Branscome from the 20th Century Society and Gurmeet Sian from the V&A. Rib Davis from the British Library led the sessions on how to do an oral history interview. The young people used Tascams to conduct the interviews, and asked open questions to encourage the residents to talk about their experiences.

After we had all the oral history recordings, we were able to listen back and decide which topics to focus more on, and ask the residents if they would also be willing to be filmed (they all said yes)! We decided to focus on three main topics: community, the management of buildings, and the event of the Grenfell Tower fire, and how they all link together.

The young people worked with the filmmaker Susanna Fasciolo, and producer Ioana Constantinescu to create a short film. We filmed the residents in places they were comfortable with – Vassiliki tending to her plants, Mark walking down Portobello market, and Lou, Ann, and Raphael in their homes to give more of a personal touch to the film.

We also included some footage from The Cheltenham Tapes, the documentary we made during last year’s project ‘Reimagining Goldfinger’, because it still felt relevant. The Graffiti wall in Trellick Tower, an important part of the local community is currently under threat from the new development happening in Trellick.

On the 9th of December 2017, we screened the film here at Kensal House to an audience of 25 people, with food provided by the local cafe in Goldfinger Factory. After the film the there was a Q&A session, giving the audience the chance to ask the young people questions. Someone asked if it had made them more interested in film making and every single young person said they would like to do it more.

A lot of audience feedback said that they wanted the film to be longer, and following the screening we added some extra footage to the film, and it’s now 15 minutes long.

Audience quotes:

“Really enjoyed the insight, excited to see more from SPID.”

“It was a fantastic celebration of local people, by young people, and of the local area and buildings.”

“I thought it was wonderfully made, great information, and the young people should be very proud of what they have achieved.”

The film will be screened again at Maxilla Social Club on the 19th of April at 6.30pm and you can also watch it here.

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