Susanna - Methods/session 1 Three things

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E D I T E D and I M P R O V E D with Sonia and Andreas


BLOCK SYMPHONY

What

Block Symphony is a collection of images and sounds recorded in a Council estate in South London where I lived for two years, showing how the presence of residents is felt and yet they are not seen. Put together in the form of a very short video, it develops in a piece that does not celebrate its content but it documents and observes it from the point of view of the filmmaker that is part of the subject and yet lacks feeling of belonging and so moves around the space collecting content whilst also questioning it. Different images are put side by side using the split screen technique, and all the soundtracks play at the same time.

How

Images and sounds were recorded over the course of a few nights when, while walking in the estate, I had the impulse to document the material I was observing. Nothing was staged or prepared, images were chosen purely because I found them interesting or because the sound in a specific setting was. The use of split screen highlights the coexistence of the different elements, each with their own audio, that live next to each other without ever touching/knowing/helping/listening to one another.

Why

Going back to the Greek origin of the word 'symphony' we see how it clashes with the life of this council estate: it means harmony (of sounds), it recalls to a balanced togetherness where each element plays its part in order to create a composition. The residents of this estate don't meet and therefore cannot cooperate to communal harmony. Their objects, their sounds, are all mixed together without balance. My personal need for more harmony and the possibility to encounter other residents while filming and perhaps spark a conversation are the core motivation for this piece.

KENSINGTON STORIES

What

Kensington Stories is the final product, in the form of a short documentary, of a three months long project. It tells the stories of some residents of North Kensington, a neighbourhood in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea (one of the wealthiest boroughs of the United Kingdom). The residents’ stories are linked to the stories of some buildings of the area that are of historical or architectural relevance. Behind the conversations about community, history and architecture runs the recent ghost of the Grenfell Tower fire, which affected in different ways the whole of London, but particularly everyone that lives in social housing.

How

A grassroots charity started this project with engaging a group of teenagers in running oral interviews with local residents and conducting research on the buildings of the area. I then ran filmmaking workshops with the group, aiming at making this documentary. The oral interviews and the initial research were used as a basis for the documentary’s script. The procedure was unusual for me as I was teaching both theoretical and practical aspects of documentary while filming at the same time with all the restraints that come with any production. Some shots were taken after many attempts and/or explanations on why and how whilst some others were improvised. Just like the production, also the post production of this film was led by myself whilst including the feedback and the opinions of everyone involved: from the group of teenagers to the members of the charity organisations and the funding bodies.

Why

The charity wanted to involve local teenagers in something interesting and educational. Some of them were surely forced to take part by parents and teachers but as the weeks passed by they realised how they could add their voice and learn new skills. I first approached this as a regular paid job, a commission. However I soon found my self being as involved as the others. I always wanted to attempt using film as a starting point for social change and this was a great opportunity. This documentary is the sum of our opinions, backgrounds and need to take part in the conversation that was and still is happening in London about gentrification and class.


D R A F T


BLOCK SYMPHONY

What

A sample of a larger collection of images and sounds recorded in a Council estate in South London where I lived for two years, showing how the presence of residents is felt and yet they are not seen. Put together in the form of a very short video Block Symphony takes inspiration from traditional city symphonies but develops in a piece that does not celebrate its content. Instead it documents and observes it from the point of view of the filmmaker that is part of the subject and yet lacks feeling of belonging and so moves around the space collecting content whilst also questioning it.

How

Images and sounds were recorded over the course of a few nights when while walking in the estate I observed how much material was there and had the impulse to document it. Nothing was staged or prepared, images where chosen purely because I found them interesting or because the sound in a specific setting was. The use of split screen highlights the coexistence of the different elements, each with their own audio, that live next to each other without ever touching/knowing/helping/listening to each other.

Why

Going back to the Greek origin of the word 'symphony' we see how it clashes with the life of this council estate: it means harmony (of sounds), it recalls to a balanced togetherness where each element plays its part in order to create a composition. The residents of this estate don't meet and therefore cannot cooperate to communal harmony. Their objects, their sounds, are all mixed together without balance. My personal need for more harmony and the possibility to encounter other residents while filming and perhaps spark a conversation are the core motivation for this piece.

KENSINGTON STORIES

What

Is the final product, in the form of a short documentary, of a three months long project. It tells the stories of some residents of North Kensington, a working class neighbourhood in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea (one of the wealthiest boroughs of the United Kingdom). The residents’ stories are linked to the stories of some buildings of the area that are of historical or architectural relevance. Behind the conversations about community, history and architecture runs the recent ghost of the Grenfell Tower fire, which affected in different ways the whole of London, but particularly everyone that lives in social housing.

How

A grassroots charity started this project with engaging a group of teenagers in running oral interviews with local residents. I was then asked to run a filmmaking workshop with the group, aiming at making this documentary. The procedure was therefore somehow unusual for me as I was teaching both theoretical and practical aspects of documentary while filming at the same time with all the restraints that come with any production. Some shots were taken after many attempts and/or explanations on why and how whilst some other were improvised due to lack of time. Those who funded the project heavily influenced the editing.

Why

The charity wanted to involve local teenagers in something interesting and educational. Some of them were surely forced to take part by parents and teachers but as the weeks passed by they realised how they could add their voice and learn new skills. I first approached this as a regular paid job, a commission. However I soon found my self being as involved as the others. I always wanted to attempt using film as a starting point for social change and this was a great opportunity. This documentary is the sum of our opinions, backgrounds and need to take part in the conversation that was and still is happening in London about gentrification and class.