Four day course receives excellent feedback, inspires new filmmakers

Trying to decide which course is best for you?

We asked former participants, Sophie Parker and Oscar Wilson, for some extra feedback including why they took the 4 day course and how it has benefited them.

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Right to left: Sophie Parker, tutor Mark Saunders and Oscar Wilson on site at the course project.

SOPHIE

Why did you choose the four day course?

I chose the four day course because I had been considering getting into documentary film making and wanted to do a course that was suitable for beginners.

What did you like most about the course?

“I liked that it was slightly longer than the weekend courses so [I] learnt more and got to do a mini project, I liked the size of the group which meant you really felt like you were getting one to one tuition and always had something to do, it also meant the group bonded and really helped each other out.

Since completing the course, have you had the opportunity to use the skills you learned?

I haven’t had the opportunity to use my skills yet but I have made arrangements to do some work experience at another production company where I hope to further hone the skills I have acquired and be able to go onto producing my own films.

Would you recommend the four day course to other people and if so, who?

I would definitely recommend the four day course to anyone that had a slight interest in film production whether as a career or as a hobby.

OSCAR

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Why did you choose the four day course?

I was asked whether I wanted to take part in the course as training for a future project.

What did you like most about the course?

What I liked most about the course was the indepth nature of it. The fact that I was taught the essentials so if I wanted to go out and film a documentary now I could – not to the standard of a seasoned professional, however I have the tools, I just need the seasoning!

What has stayed with you the most?

I don’t know what has stayed with me the most because I don’t feel like it has ended in a way, I’m still trying to hone in on all the learning that was done.

Since completing the course, have you had the opportunity to use the skills you learned?

Since completing the course I have begun to use various aspects of the course in order to continue working on a documentary project. First, essential organisation and creating a cooperative atmosphere with your subjects – this is something that I feel is not offered as part of your average course. Therefore if you want the gems in how to go about things – go to Spectacle.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future are at the moment beginning with the raw: “GET A CAMERA” ASAP! Then there is not much to hold me back – maybe some sound equipment then I can tackle any subject I can get close enough to!

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Spectacle will make a film about Rectory Gardens housing co-operative

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Spectacle has met several times with members of a housing co-operative based in Rectory Gardens, Clapham, to discuss making a film about the street and its community ahead of residents planned, impending eviction by Lambeth Council. We ran an extremely successful four day training course around the project. This served the dual purpose of giving participants the opportunity to experience working on a real commission and kick-starting filming.

We received excellent feedback from course attendees and an enthusiastic response from many Rectory Gardens residents. As a result, we have more training courses scheduled in for the Autumn and we hope to start production on the Rectory Gardens film for real in the near future. Eventually we aim to produce a short film that may help the campaign of residents who choose not to settle, and serve as a record of life on the street for those who have decided to reluctantly accept the Council’s offer of rehousing.

The Rectory Garden Housing Co-operative came into being in the 1970s, when houses on the street – an L-shaped mews attached to Rectory Grove – were compulsorily purchased by the Council and then left empty. People who moved into the empty buildings were allowed to stay on ‘short life’ tenancies – for almost 40 years in some cases. The residents made the houses habitable, tended the gardens and in many cases brought up families there. They also formed a housing co-operative, with a ‘self-help’ agenda – members exchanged skills and supported each other; they taught themselves and each other to maintain the houses – in (at least) one case learning to plaster ‘on the job’. The result is a vibrant and eclectic street, with an old bombsite for a garden and a small pack of cats to keep out the mice. In contrast to a sterile and ugly gated-community redevelopment in the mews next door the street is idyllic, a hub of community that contrasts the bleakness of many residential parts of London.

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However some residents say they have been unable to fully enjoy their homes, instead living with constant anxiety as Lambeth Council – which ironically self-describes as a ‘co-operative council’ – has sporadically put pressure on them to leave. This came to a head in 2011, when the Labour party began systematically targeting all ‘short life’ properties in the borough. Under immense pressure and facing dubious, underhand tactics – including the employment of property guardian company Camelot to help prise tenants out and stop new ones moving in – many residents have now settled and been rehoused, or are awaiting to be rehoused within the borough. Lambeth Council have offered Rectory Gardens residents priority in selectively applying for available council houses.

Many residents, however, persist in fighting to keep their homes, despite the risk of having to pay enormous legal fees if they lose.

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