Silwood Video Archive Project Update

Participatory Archive Video Project exploring the regeneration of Silwood Estate, Lewisham

Summary 

In March we have wrapped up the final stages of our Digitally Democratising Archives project, funded by the National Lottery and The Audience Agency. 

The aim of the project was to open the Silwood archive, for the first time since filming began, and to invite the Silwood community to watch, comment on, and hopefully begin a participatory editing process which will draw out the story(ies) of Silwood.

Our project has gone largely as planned. All the aspects of workshops that we envisioned have happened. Participants have enjoyed watching and discussing the archive. Rather than stopping after 6 workshops we decided to maximise momentum by running a workshop every week for the duration of the project.

Online archive based participatory video workshops

Outcomes

Exploring the Archive

From the Silwood Archive – Residents shooting on Silwood Estate during a workshop with Spectacle

As part of this project we digitised and uploaded 392 clips from the Silwood archive. These clips covered a variety of themes including: the destruction of the estate, location shots of buildings which no longer exist, planning meetings which showcased spaces and buildings which were never built, promises made and not fulfilled, the desire for a youth centre and community centre, fly tipping, poems, and interviews with former residents. 

Archive based participatory video, missing sculpture on Silwood Estate in Lewisham and Southwark

As part of the project Spectacle published a short edited video on the theme of the missing statue Neighbourly Encounters. This statue was made by the artist Uli Nimptsch and specially commissioned for the estate.This short film brings together interviews of the model for the statue, bringing a historian on to the estate to discuss the missing statue, and the community’s memories of the statue itself. It continues to be unclear when and why the statue was removed, and where it is now. 

Community Engagement 

This project had three levels of potential engagement. The most shallow level was through likes, views, clicks, engagement on social media, or blog posts. We regularly shared public updates about the project, and occasionally posted public edited clips or videos from the archive. At this level Spectacle’s posts on Facebook about the DDA project reached 1660 individuals and had a total of 456 engagements. This is an average of 138 reached, and 38 engagements per post. Public videos received a total of 427 views on Youtube. 

Youtube playlist of videos concerning Lewisham and Southwark Silwood Estate residents

The second level of engagement was through subscription. Each blog post offered the opportunity to subscribe to a mailing list to access the archive. 26 unique participants subscribed and were given access to the 392 never before seen clips from the Silwood Archive that were uploaded during the project. Between them these 26 participants generated 1,354 views of private vimeo videos from the Silwood archive. 

The third and deepest level of engagement was through participation in workshops to view, discuss, and make selections from the archive. A total of 10 participants participated in 17 workshops over the course of 4 months. 

A view of a visit to the Silwood Video Archive page

We received very positive feedback from participants. Participants remarked that they felt this archive was “vital to the history of their community.” There was great enthusiasm to share the archive with new or younger community members who would not be aware of the history of the estate. 

Spectacle Skills 

This project has been a useful opportunity to test and develop our cataloguing, digitising workflows and our archive-based participatory workshop model. 

We developed our archive-based participatory model to run online archive-based workshops using a variety of platforms, and found ways to teach participants to use these platforms effectively. Through this process we have developed our workflows and explored the best use of accessible digital tools. 

Through this process we have developed workflows to transfer archive footage from tape and other legacy formats (MiniDV, DVCam, DVDs) to digital, to be uploaded to online platforms. 

Image from the archive – residents edit footage shot in participatory video workshops

We have developed practices for platform sharing of video archives. We have learned how to organise clips so that the archive is easier to share with participants, and explored how to balance file-naming systems for archiving versus user-friendly labelling. 

Expanding the Archive 

Spectacle visited the Silwood estate on Monday the 29th of December and filmed locations and activities including ongoing construction, fly-tipping, the location where the youth club bus arrives, the new community garden, and general location shots around the streets of the estate. 

Adding to the archive – going back to shoot location views with Silwood Estate residents

This footage will be added to the archive as part of the ongoing documentation of the Silwood estate for the past 20 years during the regeneration of the area. 

Plans to Continue the Programme 

We plan to continue working with the Silwood community on the archive. We have been involved with the Silwood community for over 20 years, and that relationship is one we are eager to continue. 

A view of the Shard from Silwood Estate

Further, this experience has given us confidence to push forward and expand the model. We are eager to use this archive-based participatory model to explore some of our other archives, and the skills gained in this project are easily transferable. We are keen to continue running archive-based participatory workshops with various communities drawing on our numerous other video archives.

The Silwood Archive project is 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.


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.

The Silwood Video Archive Project

We are delighted to announce that this month we will be launching the SILWOOD VIDEO ARCHIVE PROJECT, an archive-based participatory film project.  

This pioneering project will: digitise and upload archive video filmed with the Silwood Video Group for the public to watch; encourage community viewing and tagging; run a short series of participatory editing workshops for up to 20 participants; and produce a co-authored short film using Silwood archive footage.

The Silwood Video Archive Project is 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.

Spectacle has 40 years experience in community-led filmmaking developing collaborative documentaries and participatory video methods. Spectacle’s Silwood archive has been created over 20 years of collaborative filming and video making at the Silwood estate on the border of Lewisham and Southwark in Southeast London. 

For news and updates on the project – SIGN UP HERE, or email projects@spectacle.media.

Background: Spectacle and Silwood 

In 2000 Spectacle’s founder Mark Saunders ran participatory workshops on the Silwood Estate in southeast London. He had been asked to work with residents for a few weeks – teaching them how to shoot video and maybe making a short film as part of the planned regeneration work in the area. 

After a few months, the funding ended, but Spectacle never left. For twenty years the Silwood Community Video Group has been filming in and around the Silwood Estate, documenting daily life and changes created by regeneration.

The relationship between Spectacle and Silwood resulted in several short films, web clips for the Channel 4 series Unteachables, an ICA exhibition, as well as further exhibitions at the BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. This work has been funded by numerous grants, including the INTERREG Apango project, and has brought skill training, jobs, and investment to the Silwood Community. 

In 20 years, Spectacle has run hundreds of video workshops for participants aged from 8-80 from a wide range of backgrounds to tell their own stories. In that time Silwood Estate has undergone immense changes. Brutalist estate buildings have been razed, the community that lived there was scattered to other parts of London, and for those that remained the promises made to maintain community facilities have not been fulfilled. Filming continued every year until the pandemic hit in 2020.

The Archive Project

Understandably, the incredible volume of filming has generated a tremendous video archive – over 300 hours which Spectacle maintains.

With the support of the Audience Agency, we use online participatory editing tools to open this archive. We will invite the Silwood community to watch, comment on, and begin a participatory editing process which will draw out the story(ies) of Silwood.

This initial project will have three stages.

Stage 1

Spectacle will review the archive, edit selections, upload the archive to Vimeo. We will reach out through networks to the Silwood Community who will engage in tagging and providing metadata for the video archive. Spectacle will analyse this collection of notes, views, opinions, and responses to the archive footage. 

Stage 2

After reviewing the community response, Spectacle will convene a group of up to 20 interested community members to participate in a series of collaborative editing workshops. During 6 workshops participants will develop a short (30 minute) film or several short (5 minute) film clips from the archive through a process of viewing, discussing, and suggesting edits. Between each session, Spectacle will implement the participants’ editing suggestions. 

If the participants choose, there is the possibility of conducting Zoom interviews to collect oral histories and add current perspective on the material they are working with.

Stage 3 

Once the participants have created the rough cut of the film, Spectacle will polish the material with a final professional edit including sound design, graphics, and adding any further images that might be needed. Stage three will culminate in a screening of the film for the community. 

Impact

We are very excited that this project will allow us to make the Silwood archive accessible to the community for the first time and we envision it will enrich and sustain this 20 year collaboration. 

Further, we hope that this project will be a springboard for the community and Spectacle to attract future funding to develop the project further both by exploring the archive in more depth but also running filming workshops inspired by the archives.

At the largest scale, we imagine that this project could serve as a reproducible pilot for the many UK communities who have experienced bombing, “slum clearance”, neglect and decline of 60s Brutalist housing estates, large scale decanting, dispersal, demolition and regeneration.

If you want to get involved SIGN UP HERE or email projects@spectacle.media

The Silwood Archive project is 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.