Sari Squad- the Afia Begum campaign

The Sari Squad were a group of activist women, mostly South Asian, who helped to defend multicultural clubs and gatherings from racist attacks in the early 1980s. Based in East London, they campaigned to raise public awareness for Afia Begum, a young Bangladeshi widow who was deported from London with her child, Asma, in 1984, despite there being no concrete justification for such action. Her treatment was harsh, described by the European Parliament as ‘callous and showing the racist and sexist nature of the United Kingdom immigration laws’. In April 1984, the Sari Squad took their case to the European Commission of Human Rights. However, in the same year, and before the Commission could rule, the UK Government arrested Afia in a dawn raid and deported her.

In a Commons sitting on 11 June 1984, MP Harry Cohen condemned this deportation as a ‘disgraceful action’. He pointed out how the Home Office’s haste to deport Begum, and their total disregard for her situation (recently widowed after her husband died in a slum fire in Brick Lane) reflected how she had become a ‘victim of prejudice of the worst kind and at the highest level.’ Responding to Cohen, David Waddington MP essentially dismissed all the issues raised as missing the point, arguing that ‘the vast majority of people do, however, accept the need for immigration laws and for adequate machinery to enforce the control required by these laws’

Just what he means by ‘adequate machinery’ is unclear, but if this recent interview with Benjamin Zephaniah for The Guardian is anything to go by, it wasn’t so much machinery but bigotry in the form of attacks, especially from the National Front, that operated to control immigration. Retaliation was a means of survival (‘we still had to fight them on the street’), and Zephaniah praises the ‘legendary’ Sari Squad for the way they fought against racism.

In this extract, taken from our video magazine, Despite TV 3, various members of the Sari Squad discuss how they go about fighting for tolerance and justice, and why Afia Begum’s case is so important to them. Although the footage was shot in the 80’s, it remains just as current today, in our increasingly unsettled, multicultural, yet ironically intolerant society. The post-Brexit climate of casual racism and violent racist attacks makes it all the more crucial to raise awareness that this kind of intolerance is just as prevalent and unjustified today as it was then, and we must continue to raise awareness.

This video is available to watch on Vimeo, and is part of a new series of archive material from Despite TV, which will be re-circulated over the coming months.

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Spectacle’s new Participatory Video Workshops

Spectacle has a long history of establishing and supporting participatory community media workshops and a large number of our productions have adopted participatory video (PV) techniques and ethos, resulting in an excellent track record of high quality, award-winning TV documentaries, short films and powerful campaigning videos. We are happy to inform everyone interested in applying a participatory media approach into their community based projects, that it is now possible to share Spectacle’s experience taking part in our Participatory Video Workshop (PVW).
Spectacle has made extensive use of Participatory Video as a successful strategy to involve communities in production processes, allowing people to produce knowledge about themselves rather than being represented – and often misrepresented – by outsiders.

Recently one of the films that Spectacle produced through participatory techniques has been re-screened on the Pepys Estate: “Poverty and the Media: the tower”. The film shows the way in which local residents have felt misrepresented by the BBC ’s program The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities. The BBC’s program intended to document the transformation of the Lewisham council estate into a chic development and the alleged clash between rich newcomers and poor long term residents. Spectacle, was commissioned by the Rowntree Foundation to develop a participatory video project in the Pepys and other estates in the area: “Poverty and participation in the Media“. At the time the BBC project begun, Spectacle was already organizing video workshops that focused specifically on the way mainstream media (mis)represent poverty. In our film Pepys residents have filmed each other while commenting on the effects the BBC’s program had on their lives. Spectacle’s “Poverty and the media: the Tower” illustrates the advantages of a participatory approach, highlighting the local dynamics in a way that is factually accurate and respectful of people’s feelings, intentions and views on the world they experience.

Following the very positive feedbacks from residents and in order to meet the growing demand from community based researchers to be trained to lead participatory projects, we are happy to inform you that we are now offering a Participatory Video Workshop (PVW). Our PVW is addressed to social workers, NGOs’ and charity organization’s staff that are engaged in community development and empowerment, artists and, in general, anyone who wants to integrate participatory methods in their own projects. Based on our long experience, the PVW will provide you with practical and transferrable knowledge on video techniques, and train you on how to engage your stakeholders in participatory productions.

The PVW is designed as 3 day immersive experience that will allow you to use participatory methods in documentation, evaluation and research. If you and your staff are particularly interested in specific topics, we are happy to bring our workshop to you and tailor it to your specific needs.

Please, find here our workshop description or get in touch for further information.

International Brigade 80th Anniversary

Scottish veterans at the unveiling of the international brigade memorial statue in 1985:

Spectacle was present in 1985 when the International Brigade memorial statue was erected and Scottish veterans gave their views about the war is the video shown above.  Thirty one years later, the 2nd of July marked the 80th anniversary of the start of the Spanish civil war. People gathered at the memorial at South Bank to pay their respects to the international brigade, 2100 of which were British, who fought against the nationalists during the civil war from 1936-39. The Nationalists were controlled by Franco’s government, who were fascists, and they had the support of Germany and Italy. The International Brigade was on the side of the second spanish republic and they were made up of volunteers from over 50 nations, there was an estimated 35, 000 of them. The International Brigade was made up of many different people such as communists, socialists, anarchists, jews, but they all had one thing in common and that is that they were anti-fascist. Their goal was to stop a fascist dictatorship from happening in Spain as it could have easily spread to other european countries that weren’t already controlled by fascists, such as France. Although the nationalists ultimately won and Franco continued to rule for a further 36 years it is clear that the work of the International Brigade is still valued to this day.

During the memorial held at Jubilee Gardens wreaths were laid for the 526 british volunteers who lost their lives to the cause and there was a minutes silence. Those present at the memorial included representatives from the spanish embassy, trade union veterans and the president of the madrid Association of Friends of the International Brigade. There was also performances from various artists and actors including songs from the upcoming play about the international brigade.

In the turbulent times we live in now is it possible we will need another International Brigade in the future and what form would it take?

Photos from the 80th anniversary:

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Watch our interview with John ‘Bosco’ Jones about being a member of the International Brigade.

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Battersea Power Station – what is the future?

Our film Battersea Power Station: Selling an Icon, has recently been screened at Goldsmiths University, in Leiden as part of the LISFE Architecture Week, and at the 3rd International Congress on Industrial Heritage in Lisbon. These screenings have generated further interest in the tragic plight of this building and the detrimental effects of developer led conservation on listed buildings. Combined with the recent unveiling of the new Tate Modern extension, it raises questions over how the unlisted Bankside Power Station is protected by public use and interest, while the listed Battersea Power Station, still standing with just one chimney, is for private profit only.

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Battersea Power Station with one fake chimney.

Keith Garner, an architect who works on the conservation of historic buildings and landscapes, is a member of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, and is featured in the film. At the Lisbon conference, Garner and Kett Murphy delivered a presentation, ‘Power Stations for the People’, which highlighted the comparison between the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station against that of Bankside Power Station, which has since become the Tate Modern. While Bankside was regenerated for recreational purposes very successfully, Battersea Power Station continues to lie at the mercy of aggressive speculative development. The contrasting redevelopment of these two buildings is crucial in understanding the issues of building preservation in an age of redevelopment.

Both Bankside and Battersea Power Station were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, described as ‘cathedrals of power’, and considered of major architectural importance. And yet, when it came to development plans for both buildings, only Bankside’s value as a potential public asset was considered. When the Tate Modern acquired the building in 1994 to house a collection of modern art, it ultimately revitalised the area, while still maintaining the original character of the building. The transition from power station to art museum is today considered a huge success. Following the gallery’s £260m revamp, which was launched on June 17, the Chairman of the Tate stated that: ‘A building that was once London’s beating heart is now its cultural cathedral.’

However, as Garner and Murphy highlighted at the Lisbon conference, the development plans for Battersea Power Station don’t seem to be focused around the preservation of a listed Art Deco building, or the drive to create another cultural space like the Tate. Under the financing of Malaysian real estate investment consortium, led by Sime Darby, the power station will be swamped by high rise, luxury apartments, enclosed in a gated community and only accessible to the public during the day. As we have previously reported, the power station itself is in danger of becoming virtually unrecognisable, with growing concern over whether the iconic chimneys will ever be rebuilt. Unlike the regeneration of the Tate Modern, whose success is ultimately based on its inclusivity and openness, Battersea, as we have tried to highlight in our film, is becoming defined by its elitism and exclusivity. Despite Boris Johnson’s pledges that property developed at the power station would be sold to Londoners first, our investigations suggest otherwise, with findings exposing that 55% of the homes sold so far actually went to foreign money.

Battersea’s ‘regeneration’ threatens to be solely for the purpose of private economic gain. As Garner asserts, the developers have taken ‘no account of its (Battersea Power Station) dignity, reverence and serenity.’ The Battersea Power Station Community Group’s plans have ultimately been realised in the Tate Modern. However, the recent Switch House extension, a 200ft pyramid-like tower featuring three new galleries and a panoramic roof terrace, just reinforces how, if re-development and preservation had started with Battersea rather than Bankside, which is a third of the size, no such extensions would have been needed. Instead, funds are raised in order for the Tate to house 60% more artworks, whilst Battersea Power Station falls into further dereliction.

Through the re-circulating of our film, these issues of developer led conservation are once again being brought to attention. The way the Tate extension is being praised for transforming the building into ‘one of the world’s cutting edge art spaces’, only emphasises the stark contrast between the two power stations. Our film remains essential in raising an awareness that heritage led regeneration cannot, ultimately, be short-circuited, and that respect for the historic environment is paramount.

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs
See our Battersea Power Station project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Interested in learning to produce video with Spectacle?… You’re in great company

Do you want to learn how to produce and edit high quality video to promote your business, organisation, or institution?

If so, you’re in good company: we’ve trained numerous individuals and groups from large and small institutions, organisations and companies in the past six months. All of them have left happy, and many have come back for more training.

Spectacle clients so far in 2016 alone include:

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (a UK government body)

The International Baccalaureate

Save the Children

Sentura Group

The European Parliament

Autotrader

Department for Culture Media and Sport (a UK government department)

King’s College London

The Open University

Capcom

 

Some notable clients from a little longer ago include Cambridge University PressWatford Borough Council, and Redbridge Council

To find out more about what we offered these clients, and what we could offer you, send us a quick email to training@spectacle.co.uk

 

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.

Click Poverty and the Media for more blogs

Click here to get the DVD

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

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Take out our video production and video editing training courses

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Do you work in media communications and marketing? At a university? In the third sector, at an NGO or charity? For an established business or a rapidly growing start-up? A local council? Or a publishers?

If you have a group of people who would like to learn to produce beautiful in house video, we can travel to you and teach essential video production or video editing skills in two days. We bring all our own equipment, so all you need to supply is a suitable space.

Please see our website for more information or email training@spectacle.co.uk for a quote.

In the meantime, have a look at the excellent feedback we received from Angela Farrance, Senior Communications and Engagement Officer at Watford Borough Council:

“We work for a local authority, and want to promote our services, activities and places to visit in the most accessible and fun way, to a wide range of people.

I liked the flexibility that Spectacle offered; the training was completely bespoke and reactive to our needs, but still covered everything we wanted to learn.

The team had varying levels of experience, and all felt it was a really well spent few days. Everyone is very keen to get started!

I would recommend the training, and already have to fellow comms officers in Hertfordshire. Mark made the sessions fun, accessible and everyone is really excited to get filming.”

Learn Video Editing with Spectacle

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Our two day video editing training courses offer an opportunity to quickly and cheaply acquire comprehensive post-production skills in a small group setting. We teach primarily on Final Cut Pro, but offer participants the chance to trial and compare Adobe Premiere and iMovie too.

We always receive excellent feedback:

“It was a small group so things were easily explained if not understood, and the direction could be catered towards our needs” – Sarah

“I had no previous knowledge of the software, so I would have been completely scared of trying things on it — the course felt just right to begin this exploration and the information on codec and export was particularly helpful” – Sophia

“It provides a lot of information quickly and in an understandable format. More helpful and human than the internet.” – Camilla

“[Learning a] structure for editing was extremely useful as this had been a barrier to progressing my own project — I’d only received technical training on the software previously” – Jo

We can also arrange one-to-one training – suitable for individuals, pairs or threes – and schedule bespoke coursesfor groups of four or more. One-to-one and bespoke group training can be tailored to meet your requirements – that means we will teach on editing software of your choice, and we can work on your actual video project.

We cover both how to use the editing software – from importing, marking, logging and editing, to adding soundtracks and effects – and workflow techniques: essentially, showing you an easy and stress-free way to turn your many hours of unorganised footage into a well-structured final documentary film, short video, or promotional clip.

Like our Video Production Weekend course, our editing training is popular with aspiring documentary filmmakers, ‘self-shooter’ journalists who want to expand their skill set, marketers who want to make and edit their own promotional videos, and hobbyists who want to produce better results. We particularly recommend the course to individuals who have completed one of our video production courses and want to add editing skills to their repertoire.

Professional filmmaker and teacher Mark Saunders leads all editing sessions himself.

Each participant will have sole or pair use of a computer, giving everyone extensive hands-on experience.

Calling all students – take advantage of our huge student discounts, learn filmmaking before you graduate

Are you a student, interested in documentary filmmaking, video-journalism (becoming a ‘self-shooter’), media communications and marketing, or using video for your final project or fieldwork? We pride ourselves on our affordable and efficient intensive short courses in filmmaking, video production, and video editing, and for students they are even cheaper.

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We offer our Digital Video Production Weekend — a great introductory course for beginners — for just £180 to students (a £60 discount on the full price), and our intensive Four Day Filmmaking Course — also suitable for beginners, but ideal for consolidating and expanding on basic or self-taught skills — for £350 (£150 off).

We also have a course designed specifically for people who want to learn video skills for academic purposes — for use in fieldwork or on their final project and a course for people interested in media communications and marketing. We have courses running soon — before your final project is due! — and over the summer. If you are graduating this year and interested in pursuing a career in documentary filmmaking, self-shooter video-journalism, media communications and marketing, or academia then sign up now and we will honour the student discount even if you graduate before the course start date.

For more information see our website, or email Charlotte at training@spectacle.co.uk to discuss which course would be best for you.

Video Training for Charity Communications

Many charities, NGOs and community groups find online video an indispensible way to promote their work, to raise awareness, to fundraise or to campaign. But outsourcing video projects to production crews is extremely expensive, and may not produce the best results. We can train Communications Officers and Marketing Teams to produce high-quality video in-house, instead.

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We offer an affordable three day course or bespoke one-to-one training to help existing staff learn to produce video in-house, on a small budget.

The course aims to introduce participants to every stage of the documentary filmmaking process, so that afterwards they’re in a position to build on their skills on their own. Once you or your staff have learned to make your own video content you will be able to do this again and again, saving on the cost of hiring a film crew

Not only is training existing staff or volunteers in the techniques of high quality digital film making far more cost effective than hiring a film crew, but the results can be better. When people working on the ground record their own activities and events, capture client testimonials and document their work you can often get better results than with a hired film crew of strangers. Where your staff have built relationships and trust with your clients they can film more relaxed and interpersonal moments – moments that might elude an external film crew, making for a more direct and powerful film.

If you work in remote locations or developing countries, training your own staff to record their work could be particularly beneficial, potentially saving you a lot of money and ensuring your organisation achieves an end result which accurately reflects the nature of the project.

Our Video Marketing Course always receives oustanding feedback.