Spectacle’s Recent Work

For 40 years, Spectacle has pioneered community led video projects and collaborative filmmaking, aiming to give groups and communities the tools and the skills to document what matters through collaborative video projects. Spectacle has led, co-led, and facilitated participatory film groups and workshops of all shapes and sizes. 

We have delivered our affordable and enjoyable courses in participatory filmmaking to hundreds of researchers, journalists, and community groups.

Over the last year Spectacle has successfully developed ways to facilitate participatory video workshops remotely, working with researchers from UCL, Oxford, and LSE, and community groups ranging from Colombia to London to Malawi. 

Workshops and Projects

Reinventadas – London School of Economics, LSE

This remote Participatory Video project, called Reinventada, was based in Medellin, Colombia. The research project was funded by the London School of Economics (LSE) Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund (KEI). Through weekly workshops, displaced and migrant women learned the skills of filming and editing and documented their lives as mothers and heads of household, living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Medellin, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The film that came from this research premiered in October 2021 at The International Documentary Film Festival of Bogotá. 

OVERDUE – University College London, UCL

Kingtom landfill, Freetown, source: Sulaiman Kamara, SLURC, 2020
Photo by: Sulaiman Kamara, 2020
Image from https://overdue-justsanitation.net/

Spectacle is running a series of training workshops for researchers at UCL working on the OVERDUE project, which is tackling sanitation inequality in three fast-growing African cities:  Beira (Mozambique), Freetown (Sierra Leone), and Mwanza (Tanzania). 

Our training in participatory video method offers an excellent resource for disrupting dominant narratives and cliches, or for understanding the impact of a project such as OVERDUE, by asking the beneficiaries to document the impact in their daily lives. 

GemDev – University College London, UCL

Lima, Image from GEMDev.net

Tracing the story of where we get our energy is one very important way to understand a society. For researchers from UCL’s Grounded Energy Modelling for equitable urban development in the global South (GEMDev) project – tracing community’s energy use using oral histories and visual storytelling is key to understanding what energy means in impromptu communities. 

EcoVisions 

In June 2021, Spectacle had the opportunity to work with Dr. Michelle Nicholson-Sanz and provide video training for the participants in her innovative Young Ecovisions project

The Silwood Video Archive Project 

The Silwood Video Archive Project marries participatory methods with video archive material in a series of narrative building workshops supported by The Audience Agency’s Digitally Democratising Archives project thanks to funding from DCMS and the National Lottery, as part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative.

Greenwich Community Video Skills Workshops – Greenwich Council 

In June, Spectacle began an online participatory video workshop series for a group of residents and community leaders in Greenwich. This programme of 8 half day workshops was designed to build the skills and capacity of the diverse Greenwich communities to co-produce media. 

Spectacle Master Class on Participatory Video

In February, Spectacle was invited to give a Master Class at the Italian National School of Participatory Video and Documentary Cinema.

Oxford COMPAS Researchers

In January, Spectacle ran a bespoke training course for The Oxford Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS). Spectacle’s training will give these researchers the skills to film with a more professional production quality and edit with an eye for narrative flow. Going forward, this will enable them to make short videos to effectively communicate their research to a larger audience.

Book your Training Workshop

Spectacle offers bespoke training either one-on-one or to groups. These can be arranged to fulfil your specific needs. Bespoke training can be built around your project so you can book sessions at your convenience and get the advice you need.


Spectacle Media bespoke training courses

We work in any time zone globally. Browse our courses, or email training@spectacle.co.uk for information on bespoke workshops.

Check out our courses: Participatory Video, Anthropology and Social Research, Filmmaking, Video Production, Marketing, Editing, and Smartphone Video.

Remote Participatory Video in Medellin, Colombia

Spectacle has been at the forefront of Participatory Video (PV) practice and community engagement for more than thirty years. We continue to innovate and during the last 9 months we have developed a model for delivering Participatory Video workshops remotely.

Reinventada, a participatory video project for LSE

The Project

Spectacle is currently a partner in a research project developing a groundbreaking remote PV method. The research project Reinventada is funded by the London School of Economics (LSE) Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund (KEI). It investigates the condition of displaced and migrant women, especially mothers and heads of household, living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Medellin (Colombia).

The Garcia sisters, Celmira and Elicenia

The research was initially planned to produce a participatory documentary on women’s ‘right to the city’ in Medellin. However, as soon as the pandemic crisis exploded, being well aware that women are amongst the most affected groups of people during emergencies and disasters, we were able to create a remote participatory project that investigates the impact of COVID-19 on participants’ everyday lives in poorer areas of the city. 

The Beginning

Started in May 2020, the project was originally planned to be conducted face-to-face, but was forced online due to the pandemic. It is led by dr. Sonja Marzi, the Principal Investigator from the Department of Methodology at LSE, as well as supported on the ground by two Colombian partners: Maria Fernanda Carrillo, a sociologist and filmmaker, and Lina Maria Zuluaga, anthropologist.

Dr. Sonja Marzi, Principal Investigator of the project

The aim of this research project is to create a documentary filmed and edited by the women themselves to depict their daily lives during the pandemic. 

Online Participatory Video

We began initially by training the participants on how to best use web platforms and available technology. We set up weekly ‘Zoom’ meetings that served as an online space for workshops on filming techniques and how to use their smartphones to capture high quality video. Zoom meetings became the workshop space where all production and editorial decisions were discussed and made in consensus. The production meetings are chaired by participants on a rotating basis. We discussed film content, planned shoots, reviewed and critiqued the footage together, and collaborated on editing the final documentary.

Demetria, chairing a meeting

The groundbreaking project has successfully adapted Spectacle’s Participatory Video methods and techniques to an online environment. The short documentary Reinventadas was released at the end of 2020 and premiered in film festivals in 2021. 

Collaborative editing process

Visit our vimeo channel to see examples of Spectacle’s past PV work.

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Mainstream media on Battersea Power Station’s financial and social unsustainability

Battersea Power Station, since the end of 2014, has been standing wounded with only three chimneys left, and we have not yet seen any sign that the Battersea Power Station Development Company is starting the rebuilding work on the SW chimney.

View from Battersea Park Station, taken by Spectacle on 23/02/2015

Battersea Power Station from Battersea Park Station. Image taken by Spectacle on 23/02/2015

Meanwhile, some of our worries about the social impact and the financial viability of the whole project have been shared by a number of different analysts.

For instance, our concerns about the financial viability of Big Bang Development grow stronger as main-stream financial newspapers, such as Bloomberg, have highlighted that after the positive performances of recent years, London’s house prices have now started going down.  Bloomberg states, in a recent article, that “prices in emerging prime London fell 2 percent in the final quarter of 2014, according to Douglas & Gordon” and that “the area, which includes the Nine Elms neighborhood, was the worst performer in “emerging prime” London last year, broker Douglas & Gordon Ltd. said”. “Overseas demand for prime London homes is cooling, and some upscale projects being marketed “have gone over to Asia and probably haven’t done as well as they would have” in early 2014” quoting Jack Simmons, head of U.K. residential development and investment at broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

This alarming report, suggesting that the degrading value of houses might scare investors and threaten the financial plan of big projects such as the one by Battersea Power Station Development Company, was corroborated in an article by The Telegraph. The Telegraph reports that properties in the Nine Elms area are already flipped, thrown on the market to make some gains, before even a single brick of the flats has been put in place. This circumstance seem to confirm our impressions, sharing with The Telegraph’s journalist the “concern that homes built in the early phase of the huge project, were mainly reserved by investors – who have waited for the market to pick up before “flipping” them – and overseas buyers”. Instead of sounding an alarm in the heads of Battersea Power Station Development Company, the same article tells us that a spokeswoman for the company said: “We launched phase one at Battersea Power Station over two years ago and we are pleased to see that the early pioneer purchasers, who helped to get this project off the ground have experienced good levels of growth”.

If fluctuations of the property market could turn investors away, the new strength of British Sterling on the foreign exchange market could cause even more troubles to South Asian Buyers. The Star, one of the most popular Malaysian news sites, published a page explaining how to deal with loans in foreign currencies to prevent investments, such as a flat in Battersea Power Station, turning disastrous by weaker local currencies.

Rahim & Co consultant, marketing (London properties), Guy Major says “It is ‘dangerous’ to have a mismatch between your ability to pay based in ringgit and a pound-denominated loan,” he says.

If our concerns about the finances of the project are aimed at putting question marks over the narrative used by big bang developers to sell their projects, other media apparently started sharing our worries about the social impact of this monster development. The Guardian came out recently with a long and quite critical article about Battersea Power Station, “the biggest building site in London, and one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe”. Significantly titling the article “Battersea is part of a huge building project – but not for Londoners”, the Guardian highlights the tendency of new developments in London to get higher – “Hong Kongification” as Tony Travers, director of the Greater London group at the London School of Economics, puts it.

The Guardian quotes Ravi Govindia, the Conservative leader of Wandsworth council  “Yes, some of the buildings will be tall, but there will be a distinctly London flavour. It’s going to be a place that people [will] enjoy living in.” Govindia says, adding that the project “will bring 25,000 permanent jobs plus 20,000 construction and engineering jobs during the building phase”), the article warns that building luxury flats for wealthy foreign buyers is exacerbating the housing problem for thousands of Londoners in need of homes.

On the other hand, Will Martindale, Labour MP candidate for Battersea, in a blog posted on The Huffington Post, shared his concerns (and some of his neighbor’s) about the way Battersea is changing: property prizes going well beyond local people’s budgets, riverfront views are blocked by multi-story buildings and very few new flats will eventually house locals while oversea investors and developers will make a fortune. As Will Martindale says “This is our riverfront. It’s part of our shared heritage, not simply a strip of real estate. We would do well to remember Battersea Council’s old motto: Not for you, not for me, but for us.”

At the moment, our impression is that it’s becoming ever more theirs…

 

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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Spectacle Presentation at the London Festival of Architecture

Films from Spectacle’s Olympic project collection are being screened as part of the London Festival of Architecture. Interviews with Lance Forman on the Forman’s fish smoking factory and footage of the now destroyed Manor Gardens Allotments are playing as part of a temporary three-week museum about Stratford and in particular the past, present and future of the Olympic site.

The event, a collaboration between the London School of Economics Cities Programme and the Architecture Foundation, will showcase artefacts from prominent organisations and artists mapping the history of the area and will be situated in a lobby space over the Stratford Shopping Centre. Spectacle’s material will be shown not only in this capacity but also as a reference to the construction and demolition work taking place for the creation of the World Cup 2012 infrastructure, which you can read more about here at the Spectacle Blog.

The festival is already underway, and the museum opens this Saturday, 26th June.