Screening of Poverty and The Media: The Tower

Trailer for Poverty and The Media: The Tower

On the 16th of July our film will be screened at the Pepy’s estate 50th anniversary festival in Deptford (SE8), which is running from 2-10pm.

We worked on this film with the residents of the Pepy’s estate as part of our poverty and the media project. Our film shows the effects the BBC’s documentary series ‘The Tower: A Tale Of Two Cities’ had on the residents of the Pepy’s estate and their views on how their community was portrayed. At the time of release The Tower received mixed reviews, it won awards but also sparked controversy as some people claim it was based on stereotypes of people who live on council estates.

Our full film will be available shortly on vimeo on demand and we encourage you to come and watch it at the Pepy’s festival on Saturday at 9pm where it will be screened. For more information on the festival and up to date information of the screening times you can find out on our social media.

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Or visit our Poverty and the Media project pages for more information and videos.

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Sheffield DocuFest debates the ethics of Poverty on TV

Poverty in the Media

Can documentaries about people living in poverty in the UK inform debate without resorting to voyeurism?

This relevant topic will be hotly debated on Friday at Sheffield’s documentary festival.

Among those taking part is Mark Saunders, independent documentary filmmaker and founder of Spectacle, a campaigning media production company and ever expanding web presence. Spectacle produced the Poverty and Participation in the Media Project.  Mark will be showing clips discussing the BBC’s documentary The Tower and Channel 4’s Rich Kid, Poor Kid.

He will be joined on the platform by leading UK programme makers Andy Glynne, Nick Fraser, Jim Boyle, Alexander Goodman and Robert Pendlebury. Brian Woods of True Vision and Julia Lewis from the Rowntree Foundation are moderating.

Although reality shows have attempted to provide more insight into the realities of life in poverty, they beg the question as to whether contrasting wealth and poverty is a sound approach. There may be better ways to create memorable, sensitive and engaging films.

After the debate, there will a series of shortlisted pitches.

The event is being hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has partnered with Mosaic Films and BBC Storyville to find documentary makers who can produce compelling stories which engage audiences and encourage debate on poverty in the UK.

Venue: Town Hall Reception Rooms

Date: Friday 05 November 2010

Time: 10:30am

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Commissioning Poverty and Creative Authorship

Poverty in the Media – Commissioning Priorities

Poverty is a problem faced by both individuals and society.

Societies commentators are an exclusive group, selected via a hierarchy and instated within a system, how representative can their voice be of the individuals who, because of the restrictions of their experience, do not rise through this?

The stories that find there way into the mass media produce a profound impact on the public subconscious; all mediated by the editorial chain, with whom the conditions are set and must be met to be accepted. The commissioning editors of both BBC and Channel 4 documentaries present similar priorities in their commissioning guidelines: Their requests come in loaded language – requesting proposals to match.

Hamish Mykura, Head of Documentaries for More 4 lists ‘harrowing’ ‘obsessed’ ‘extreme’ and ‘compelling’ in the descriptions for previous successes, the titles of which are equally charged (Eight Minutes to Disaster, Killer in a Small Town).
Alternatively, there is a focus on the ‘cheeky’ (BBC3) or the BBC4 equivalent ‘witty’, with both seeking ‘onscreen talent’ just as Channel 4 emphasises ‘presenter-led’ documentaries; encouraging programmes that are less focused on informative or critical worth and more (as requested by BBC3) the ‘entertainment values in their DNA’.

None of these criteria are detrimental in themselves but with this blanket approach to issue based programming, there is an obvious conflict of interests, the end point of which is arrived upon by Mark Raphael.

“I want to make ‘Risk Taking’ films that shed light on subjects we thought we already knew. ‘Provocative’ films that stir controversy, and ‘Popular’ films that thrill and excite large audiences.”

Mass appeal and commercial viability, are not criteria that encourage varied and responsible reporting. Industry checks may happen but if the material never leaves this sphere, pre-public release, there can be no dialogue. Fact checking, largely to avoid any potential legal repercussion, only happens to concrete information, not implication and is far more perceptible in specific rather than abstract cases. Where backlash does happen, it tends to pass more quietly than the impact of the broadcast programme.

When RDF went head to head with the Queen (A Year with the Queen, BBC, 2007) the BBC placed all blame with RDF, whose misleading editing meant producer, Stephen Lambert’s, head rolled. Now he’s back (as Studio Lambert) with Benefit Busters and RDF are free to continue with programmes, Wife Swap and The Secret Millionaire. It is not the representation, but the victim and resource with which they can respond, that affects the reaction – but the personal harm and perceptual effect is no less dramatic for those without recourse.

The power the media wields in propagating and reinforcing hegemonic ideals has long been recognised: The veil of entertainment and pretext that responding to audience choice, removes the onus from the media, only highlights the need for institutional change.

This is just one of the issues that Spectacle’s ‘Poverty and Participation in the Media’ project seeks to address; finding alternatives, opening up discussion and challenging what is seen to be the authoritative voice. The project was commissioned as part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s ‘Public Interest in Poverty Issues’ campaign, and project content can be viewed online at:
www.spectacle.co.uk/poverty-and-the-media

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Luton focus of ‘Changing Britain’, Channel 4 News

Luton was the focus of the Channel 4 News piece ‘Changing Britain‘ aired on Tuesday 23rd March.

On the streets of Luton and in the context of it’s pronounced industrial and migrant history, Jon Snow’s report examined crime, unemployment and the benefit’s trap, and inviting local perspectives on the upcoming elections.

The Snowblog ‘Hats off for Luton’, published prior to the broadcast, recognises Luton as “merely the tip of a very British reality, a snapshot of a country with vast social challenges extending far beyond what we mainly talk about – fixing the deficit.”

Glenn Jenkins (who extends the discussion in A view from the Marsh Farm estate) and other Marsh Farm Outreach members also feature in the programme. Spectacle have been working with the group for over 15 years, most recently on our Poverty and Participation in the Media project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, but also during the early community activism and outreach principles of the Exodus Collective (now Leviticus and MFO), about whom Spectacle produced two films Exodus Movement of Jah People and Exodus from Babylon.

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England, N. Ireland, Scotland, Wales – Devolution and Disadvantage

Planning Map
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
have released a series of reports to mark 10 years of devolution. The reports look at the impact of devolved policies and recognise a need for the Westminster to continue to reserve certain powers in order to improve conditions across the board but picks up on a failure to communicate feedback and learning between central and devolved government policies.

While concluding that much of the improvement in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales stems from UK policy, the reports acknowledge promising results from devolved policies, especially in the areas of social housing and elderly care. Athough their impact so far has been limited in size these results should improve as the administrations stabilise and imbed.

A less positive equalising factor was raised by report author Jim McCormick, who warns –

“The scale of the projected cuts in public spending will cause some of the gains seen in the last 10 years to unravel.”

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Poverty 2010

MarshFarm_Purley2

It’s 2010 the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, “The fight against poverty and social exclusion is one of the EU’s central objectives and our shared approach has been an important tool to guide and support action in the Member States,” said Social Affairs Commissioner, Vladimir Pidla. “The European Year will take this even further, by raising awareness of the way poverty continues to blight the daily lives of so many Europeans.” (Press release, Europa) Let’s hope the funding is spent in a productive way so the campaign reaches the specific goals and targets which actually make an impact on peoples lives.

We kicked off 2010 with the London’s biggest public transport fare hike in history, brought in by the Mayor’s office. This action does nothing to combat poverty, decreasing the ability for low income families to manouvre around London and access the opportunities on offer.

“Underground fares will rise by an average 3.9 per cent from January, while bus fares will go up by 12.7 per cent. Boris Johnson, the mayor, said the increases were comparable to similar-sized increases in 2005 and 2006 under Ken Livingstone, his predecessor. However, since inflation is far lower than in the previous years, the coming increase is significantly higher in real terms and the largest since Transport for London took over responsibility for London’s transport network in 2000.”
(Robert Wright, Big fare rises unveiled for London, Financial Times, 10/15/09)
The richer portions of our society will not be affected by the rise but the poor portions will definitely feel the affects of the rise in their daily lives.
And finally I’d like to relay some facts taken from the Shelter website.
• 1.6 million children in Britain live in housing that is overcrowded, temporary, or run-down.
• Over 1 million children live in overcrowded housing.
• More than 90,000 homeless children in England are living in temporary accommodation.
• 4 million children in the United Kingdom live in poverty after their housing costs have been paid.

We need to take these facts very seriously because the children are our future so together through our actions assist in providing a better life for them.

It’s good to see the EU coming together to try and eradicate poverty but until the Government and society address issues that effect peoples day to day lives such as transport, housing, education and other basic needs, we can’t expect to see the inequality gap close.

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Reality TV shoot – caption competition #5

The Public Relations Guru

Being in a Reality TV programme can be psychologically damaging. To make sure you can financially benefit from your exploitation it is a good idea to have a public relations agent. He will look over product endorsement contracts for you and make sure when your private life is exposed in the press it is on the front page.

The PR consultant will oversee your career

The PR consultant will oversee your career

What do  you think he is advising the contestant??

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Follow the link if you would like to know more about our Poverty and Participation in the Media project

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #1

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #2

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #3

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #4

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #5

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Reality TV shoot – caption competition #4

The Victim Contestant

In this picture the contestant is trying hard to win and keep his dignity. He is thinking about the fame and fortune that will follow. How the woman at the check out is going to say something like “‘Ere weren’t you on telly last night?”

How am I doing?

How am I doing?

What else is he thinking? Any ideas?

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Follow the link if you would like to know more about our Poverty and Participation in the Media project

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #1

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #2

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #3

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #4

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #5

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Reality TV shoot – caption competition #3

Studio Audience

The nice people at the Television company invite their  friends and family to be in the studio audience. Being in a TV audience is very easy but these days you need to know how to Whoop! like an American, which some English people find hard to do. You can practice this at home before you go “on set”.

Two reality TV fans are in the audience

Two reality TV fans in the audience

Can you think what they are saying?

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Follow the link if you would like to know more about our Poverty and Participation in the Media project

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #1

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #2

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #3

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #4

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #5

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Reality TV shoot – caption competition #2

The Director

In this scene the director is very animated and holds his hands up to form a frame so he can see what the image will look like on television.

Give me victim- Thats good-ACTION!

Give me victim- Thats good-ACTION!

Before he shouts “Action!” he gives words of encouragement to the contestants. Can you think of what he is saying?

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Follow the link if you would like to know more about our Poverty and Participation in the Media project

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #1

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #2

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #3

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #4

Reality TV shoot – caption competition #5

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