Collaborate on a Participatory Project

 

Participatory Training & Production Hybrid 

Are you an NGO or Community Centre or organisation looking to include your participants in the making of compelling videos addressing their interests and concerns? Why not engage them in a participatory video project? Spectacle has successfully adopted collaborative documentary making models for over 40 years, including award-winning participatory documentaries that have been broadcast on national and international television. We can design hybrid training-production programmes which will give you the best aspects of a collaboratively-directed film combined with professional quality production. 

We offer:

1) Training in shooting and editing film for you and/or your participants

2) Our professional shooting and editing services 

3) A final short film and a fast turn around participatory project 

Why Participatory? 

Because every community is different, there is no single participatory process model. The goal is to create a space which is open to equal participation, sharing, and creating for a community. By giving artistic and editorial control to non-professionals, the final results are vibrant and multifaceted. The participatory video process centres the lived experiences of many people. 

The benefits this can offer from a research standpoint are obvious. Whether you want to understand people’s experiences or just build community, a participatory project can be a joyful experience of co-creation and co-authorship of knowledge and art.

Spectacle has a long history of participatory work. From Germany to Colombia and across the UK we have led, co-led, and facilitated participatory film groups and workshops both in person and online for groups of all shapes and sizes. 

Why Spectacle?  

For over 40 years Spectacle has worked with groups that want to begin participatory projects. From setting up community video groups to facilitating ESRC funded participatory research projects. Further we’ve run workshops for people around the world online and in person and trained hundreds of people in our methods. 

Spectacle is an award winning independent television production company specialising in documentary, community-led, investigative journalism and participatory media. Spectacle’s documentary work has been broadcast and exhibited internationally. We have produced work on commission for clients including Amnesty International, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Howard League for Penal Reform, Council of Europe, Groundwork, the London Health Commission, the NHS, Big Local and the Wellcome Trust.

As well as undertaking productions, Spectacle runs short, sharp, affordable training courses and community based media workshops. We believe our courses are the best around, largely based on the exceptional feedback we have received from the hundreds of people we have trained over the years.

We are a small, socially-minded company, our training and commissioned work income supports our unfunded community based work. 

How do I begin a participatory video project?

We are offering a bundle of services that will guide your staff through a specifically designed programme of training and production based on your video project. There are many options for how we could design your programme together. We can accommodate any time zone where your participants might be located. 

We can offer practical workshops on video making. These bespoke training workshops can be tailored to the needs of the client including: a variety of cameras including smartphones, DSLRs, camcorders, etc; visual storytelling including storyboarding or idea generation; filming techniques guaranteed to generate quality footage.

We can teach you how to teach your participants to film, and how to run your own participatory project. 

Travel permitting, Spectacle can assist you in your real shoot. You will have complementary equipment (second camera, audio recording, lights) and extra crew if needed. 

We can train you on how to effectively use video editing software, sitting together in front of your project to get the editing process started. 

If you want professional editing, we can finalise your video with the possibile option of drop-in editing sessions.

Finally, we can guide you through uploading and promoting it on your social networks and media platforms.

We can facilitate this entire process from beginning to end, give you the skills to run it yourself, or any hybrid in between. 

Read more about our participatory model and past projects.

Contact Us

For more information or to chat about your project and ideas email us at training@spectacle.co.uk 

Sign up to our Newsletter for more information about our ongoing projects.

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Launch of Despite TV Library

Video Libraries

For the first time Spectacle is making the entire Despite TV magazine series available. This release is the first of several Video Libraries we will be putting out on Vimeo On Demand over the coming months. These libraries will use the Vimeo’s series format to curate selections from Spectacle’s back catalogue, grouping together finished films with previously unreleased archive material. We will be releasing Video Libraries on Murray Bookchin, the Exodus collective and Battersea to name a few.

Despite TV

Despite TV was an video group founded in 1982. The group operated out of the Tower Hamlets Arts Project on Whitechapel Road East London and produced video magazines that explored local issues, showcased local talent and promoted community organisations. Despite TV covered issues that have shaped the political, social and topographical landscape of London in profound ways.  Despite TV documented and commented upon events such as: the dissolution of the Greater London Authority (GLC), the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) taking over the old docks to turn them into an annex of the City, and the transformation of Brick Lane from a National Front stronghold to the Bengali street we know today.

The films are not all slick productions but they make up for this with creativity and anarchic energy. Despite TV’s magazine shows were made at a time when video was far from ubiquitous and there is a feeling of excitement, a sense of discovery and possibility that underpins all the films. A typical episode moves from a report on a nurses strike to a situationist dissection of a Big Mac to a local band performing and then on to a short film about a toucan reminiscent of Chris Markers work.

The episodes in this series give insight into political events large and small, from enormous development projects to campaigns for more cycle paths to protests against Page 3. The breadth of events covered gives the series the feeling of a time capsule, giving insight into the political and cultural mood of England in the 1980’s and early ’90s.

Rent the complete series HERE

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Spectacle’s Online Training for Oxford COMPAS Researchers

How Universities Researchers are Adapting Online 

Imagine: you’re running an international research network and suddenly – a pandemic hits! All international travel is on hold for up to two years! It’s your worst nightmare. You’ve got researchers who are supposed to be flying in from all over the globe for a week-long retreat or training workshop! What can you do? 

This was the predicament numerous Universities found themselves in, but they found ways to adapt and continue projects – many turned to Spectacle’s Bespoke Training Workshops to help them creatively solve problems. 

Through 2020, video conferencing has become the norm and many researchers are now imagining how important and useful video making or remote online participatory video research could be for communicating their research or archive-based workshops going forward. Maybe we can help you too.  

Oxford COMPAS

This week Spectacle kicks off a bespoke training course for The Oxford Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS). Since 2003, COMPAS has established an international reputation for original research and policy relevance. 

The training we will provide is for the researchers focusing on sustainable cities. Researchers will join online from cities around the world including Oxford, Beijing, Bangalore, Cape Town and Medellin. 

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. 

Does this sound like the kind of training you or your organisation might benefit from?  

Bespoke Training for Academics

When it comes to making videos, the just ‘point and shoot’ method only works if you are extremely lucky. From inaudible audio, to interviewees that clam up as soon as they see a camera, to takes ruined by continuous autofocusing – the pitfalls are innumerable. 

Spectacle online video training

When looking to make video, academics have unique needs. They aren’t looking to become documentary filmmakers. They aren’t looking to invest in overly expensive filming equipment. They won’t have a large support crew to help with filming. And the need to make a final project where the medium (and mistakes) don’t distract from the message.

About Spectacle

Spectacle is an award-winning independent media company that specialises in documentary, community-led investigative journalism, and participatory media.

We have been leaders in Participatory Video (PV) practice and community engagement for more than thirty years, and offer training and workshops in every aspect of digital filmmaking.

We offer affordable, accessible, and enjoyable film, media, and video training. No prior knowledge needed! Learn what you really need to know to make quality videos with us

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Stay Home? They wanted to…

As England enters a third lockdown where all people are ordered to “stay at home,” at Spectacle we are reminded of a community in Clapham Old Town, Lambeth SW4 that was told to “get out” of their homes.

In Rectory Gardens, there lived a group of creative and industrious people. As young artists and divergent thinkers they turned a derelict bombed out row of uninhabitable houses into a flourishing artistic community. For forty years they lived in a housing backwater largely unaffected by social housing policies, despite sporadic attempts by the council to “formalise” the street. They created a housing cooperative, until Lambeth, the ‘cooperative Council’ began taking their “million pound” houses from under their feet. The community that now included the vulnerable, elderly, and unwell, was broken up and dispersed. 

A Tragedy in the Commons 

The street circa 1980

Rectory Gardens (RG) is a L shaped Victorian pedestrian street in Clapham Old Town SW4 that was badly damaged by bombing during WW2. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the decimated houses attracted a group of squatters who saw the opportunity to create a utopia. This motley crew of characters with their own ideologies, housing needs, and reasons for living outside of the norm, formed a collective community which lived in relative harmony for four decades.  

Rectory Gardens circa 1980

By the 1980s these squatters had revitalized the houses, and formed a housing cooperative. Rectory Gardens offered a home for all kinds of artists, free-thinkers, draft dodgers, and other socially liminal characters. Through the 80 and 90s, it remained a diverse community at the epicentre of a flourishing arts scene.

Squatters clear rubble, circa 1960

The street was host to an industrious community of artists, musicians, poets and unconventional ‘free thinkers’ who found a cheap way of living while developing their creative endeavors. It became a hub of cultural activities initiating art studios and cafes that brought life to the area. Spectacle interviewed both Vivienne Westwood and Maggi Hambling about the value of Rectory Gardens’s cultural contributions.

Bombed out windows, circa 1960

Residents of this dynamic community were the initiators of much that made the area distinct and attractive, the skate park and cafe on clapham common, Cafe des Artistes, Fungus Mungus, Voltaire Studios, bric-a-brac shops, rehearsal studios, artisan crafts and pool of skilled creative labour. The street itself had a public garden that served as a safe play area in the day and a performance and social space in the evening.

As with any tragedy, their success was key to their end as well. The artistic growth contributed to the popularity of the neighborhood and ultimately its subsequent gentrification. The council had its eyes on the properties, and though the residents tried to work with the council to legalize their living arrangement the deal fell through. The residents were recently evicted by Lambeth Council, who sold the houses to a developer on the private market.

Evicting the community was devistating for the mental health and well-being of many of these elderly and vulnerable residents. They lost not only their homes but their community and support networks. Many struggled to live away from their home of forty years, some died or were sectioned. Housing is integral to well-being, a point overlooked by this profit driven housing department.

Spectacle at Rectory Gardens

In the spring of 2014 Spectacle was contacted by the residents of Rectory Gardens. They wanted to record the final months of their squat-turned housing-cooperative. Rectory Gardens had been a lively arts community for over forty years, but growing conflict with the local council left the residents desperately fighting to avoid eviction, something that perhaps some media advocacy and intervention could assist them with, they believed.

Spectacle begins filming at Rectory Gardens in 2014

During our preliminary engagement with Rectory Gardens, Spectacle offered training to any residents who were interested in filming techniques. Spectacle conducted workshops where participants learned camera techniques, collected peers’ stories, and collectively discussed the footage and ways to continue the production process. The production process was dictated by the participants themselves, and they shaped the narrative scope by inviting ex-residents to contribute with their memories. This work developed into an archive of oral histories of the street. 

Peers interview eachother and collect an oral history of the street

The production has continued for over six years, far longer than the initial few months originally envisioned. Together, Spectacle and Rectory Gardens residents have collected over 150 hours of footage including: long interviews with residents; key events on the street; residents resisting evictions; historic footage filmed by residents during the 90s; and residents in their new flats, reflecting on living away from their community where they lived for decades.

Post evictions, the street is home to wealthier residents

During Spectacle’s engagement, RG has been dismantled through evictions and relocations, and the residents have been scattered to various and disparate areas of the borough. The street, on the other hand, has been transformed to make way for the arrival of new wealthy tenants. 

Framing the Street 

Spectacle’s video archive of Rectory Gardens brings out many topical themes and offers inspiration for the post-Covid City through an examination of the past. Rectory Gardens is a portrait of forty years of resistance to the government housing policies. 

The houses themselves were initially built as philanthropic poor-quality Victorian housing for low-income workers. After
Rectory Gardens was bombed and left derelict post WW2, it provided a solution for postwar homelessness through squatting. It offered fertile ground for experimenting with alternative ways of living, resisted the “slum clearance” in the 1970s, Thatcherism, and the sale of social housing in the ‘80s. Their methods and ideologies represent a range of approaches including anarcho individualism, anarcho-syndicalism, socialism, capitalism of small artisanal businesses looking for cheap space, and the daily necessity of the socially excluded and the legally marginalised. 

The beautiful rennovation by one of the co-operative residents, taken just before eviction

By the 2000s, the constant push to turn London’s affordable housing into profit, was nibbling at the edges of Rectory Gardens as well. The insidious forces of “regeneration” and contemporary privatised gentrification have been endemic in London where, even by global standards, the commodification of real estate is extreme. Through eviction and rehousing the community was broken up, and the squatters were replaced with live-in guardians, the modern sanitised, privatised version of squatting.

It’s important to note that not all parts of London have been equally gentrified, and Lambeth Council, where Rectory Gardens is located, was famous for its tolerance of alternative housing organisations and leftist leanings. They referred to themselves as ‘the cooperative council’ and ‘Red Ted’ Knight and his ‘Socialist Republic of Lambeth’ were the bete-noir anti hero of the tabloids. There were many houses like Rectory Gardens which were uninhabitable after the war, and Lambeth had few resources to deal with them. Squatters quickly took advantage of the council’s disinterest and moved into these spaces. Lambeth greatly benefited from the labour of these groups, and many cooperatives were able to legalise their situation, but RG was not.

The Project Now

The filming part of this project has come to a close, and we are looking for partners in the next phase – telling the story of what has disappeared. 

We are searching for funding and partners to assist in bringing the dispersed community together again for an online participatory editing process. The process will let the former residents of Rectory Gardens tell their story, by sifting through the 150 hours of footage and drawing out narratives and themes to share with a wider audience.

Searching for Partners for Rectory Gardens Online Participatory Video Project

If you are interested in exploring collaborations or can suggest potential funding streams please get in contact. We welcome academic researchers, activists, social historians, and all others. 

Read more about our model and past projects.

Please get in touch with projects@spectacle.co.uk or subscribe for more information.

For updates check our other blogs.

This project is relevant to: well-being, health, housing, social housing, urbanism, urban planning, human geography, sociology, participatory methods, co-creatation, co-authorship, knowlege sharing, community filmmaking, and participatory film.

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Remote Participatory Workshop in Rostock, Germany

Does the Truth Still Lie in Rostock?

In August 2020, in collaboration with the Rostock based group Lichtenhagen im Gedächtnis , Spectacle developed and ran an archive-based two-day participatory workshop. This project is part of the run up to the 30th anniversary of the Rostock Pogrom in 1992.

The project’s events, which were held online due to the pandemic, included a public premier of a new fully German version of ‘The Truth Lies in Rostock’. The screening was followed by a Q&A with director Mark Saunders, which focused on the participatory production process through which the film was created. For more about the process or the archive footage, see the bottom of this post.

This screening also launched a unique workshop designed to connect Rostock’s past, present, and future.

The Truth Lies in Rostock

This 1993 film depicts the events which occurred in August 1992, at the Lichtenhagen estate in Rostock, in the former East Germany. Over the course of three nights, a fascist crowd assembled. The police withdrew as the mob petrol bombed a refugee centre and the home of Vietnamese guest workers while 3000 spectators stood by and clapped. 

The film uses material filmed from inside the attacked houses and interviews with anti-fascists, the Vietnamese guest workers, police, bureaucrats, neo-nazis and residents. Through these perspectives, a story of political collusion and fear unfolds. 

Thirty years later the question has become, how can the memory of the ‘Lichtenhagen Pogrom’ help fight new waves of fascism in Germany? 

Participatory Video Workshop

This two-day participatory video workshop offered the chance for young adults from Rostock to dig into the film’s questions about the nature of fascism, racism, and the roles and responsibilities of the city, state, and federal governments. 

By working with archive footage and filming a live commemorative demonstration, the workshop was designed to bridge the past and present issues of racism and anti-racism in Rostock. The workshop’s second aim was to offer new skills in media and filmmaking to these young adults. 

The workshop launched the weekend of August 20th. A group of young Rostockers were split in two groups, one working with archive footage, and one filming the live demonstration.

Before the workshop began, Spectacle digitized a portion of our extensive archive footage from 1992. The material selected was of the anti-nazi demonstration that followed the pogrom. This group worked with Spectacle to edit a new short film from the material. 

You can see their short film here: Demonstration 1992

Meanwhile, the rest of the participants went as a small group to film an event which echoed the archive material – the Lichtenhagen Commemorative Bicycle Demonstration. This group of participants learned about filming techniques and edited footage from the demonstration into a short film which focused on the landmarks which have been built to commemorate the events thirty years before. 

You can view their final short film here: Demonstration 2020

Read more about the project from the German perspective.

The Aims of the Project  

  • Provide a safe space for reflection about the events in Lichtenhagen, specifically for different groupings that were involved in the events at the time. This includes, but is not limited to the Vietnamese community in Rostock, some of whom had to fear for their lives and lost their homes in the events, and Rostock residents, some of whom were appalled at the unfolding events and other who were cheering at, or maybe even participating in the attacks.
  • Provide skills training in workshops, teaching participants how to use video cameras, record sound, and conduct interviews.
  • Potentially encouraging dialogue between diverse groups and contributing to a more sustainable community through a process of reconciliation.
  • Preserving the oral history of the 1992 events by creating Zeitzeugen (witness/bystander) documentation for future generations, through the production of a series of films including original as well as new footage. These footage shot in these workshops will be made available online as well as on DVD and can be used to educate younger generations.

The Archive 

Spectacle has an extensive archive of footage from Rostock between 1991-93. The archive grew out of a programme of participatory video workshops run by Spectacle. After the unification of Germany, all the East German media outlets were taken over or replaced with Western media. Spectacle’s series of open workshops were designed to establish an independent, community-based media group in Rostock and to document the effects of unification on the city.

All participants in the workshops were beginners, with little experience in photography or filmmaking. The practical exercises concentrated on how the unification was changing the physical urban landscape. At the close of the first sessions, each participant was interviewed about their experiences as well as their hopes and fears of “Die Wende” the unification of Germany.

One of the objectives of the workshops was to establish a community media group to that end we formed the Jako Media Co-op. Just six months later Jako E.V. and Spectacle would rejoin to make ‘The Truth Lies in Rostock’.

The production process created over 200 hours of footage that did not appear in the final edit of the film. These scenes of daily life in 1991-1993 have become an historic archive of the city at that volatile time. The aim of the 2020 project was to re-work and revisit this archive together with a new generation of Rostockers who were not even born at the time of the pogrom.

Watch The Films

Demonstration 2020
Demonstration 1992

Read past blogs about Spectacle’s Rostock projects here.

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

Sign up to our Newsletter for more information about our ongoing projects.

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Lost video “Aug 13” on “Battle of Lewisham 1977” found in Spectacle Archive

Late July 2017, just a few weeks before the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham Spectacle found the “lost” video of the anti-fascist film “Aug 13: What Happened” in its extensive and unique video archive. The Spectacle video archive contains over 3000 hours of video on social justice, urbanism, human rights, housing, anti-racism, alternative and radical media from 1977 to the present day. Much of the late 1970s and 1980s content was shot in and around East London which was a very different place then.

The film “Aug 13” was found, high on a shelf, among a group of U-Matic tapes Despite TV had gathered for a film, never finished, for the 50th Anniversary of the 1936 Battle of Cable Street when the Jewish community of East London and its anti-fascist allies blocked the streets in order to prevent Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists marching through.

August 13 1977 the Battle of Lewisham from Spectacle Media on Vimeo.

The film depicts the infamous events of 13 August 1977, the so called Battle of Lewisham, when the far-right National Front (NF)  attempted to march through South East London which led to clashes with anti-fascist groups, and later between demonstrators and the police. The footage shows the first time police deployed riot gear on the UK mainland and provides vital evidence about the demonstration and its aftermath in which over 100 people were injured.

With testimony from eyewitnesses varying, and often contradicting official reports, the battle has become a contested historical event. The film was shot by volunteers connected to the Albany Video project in Deptford. This version was restored just in time for the anniversary and is now included in the London Community Video Archive

Nearly forty years later to the day, 12 August 2017, there was the “Charlottesville incident” a counter demonstration against a White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville , Virginia, USA. Lessons from the past might help in the fight against a new virulent form of Fascism taking a grip particularly in the USA, UK and Europe.

You might also be interested in our  documentary  film

22nd August will also be the 26th anniversary of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots. Check out our participatory investigative feature length documentary “The Truth Lies in Rostock

The Truth Lies in Rostock from Spectacle Media on Vimeo.

August 1992 Lichtenhagen estate, Rostock, former East Germany. Police withdraw as fascists petrol bomb a refugee centre and the home of Vietnamese guest workers while 3000 spectators stood by and clapped.

Using material filmed from inside the attacked houses and interviews with anti-fascists, the Vietnamese guest workers, police, bureaucrats, neo-nazis and residents, a story of political collusion and fear unfolds.

“Aug 13” is just one of the many lost and forgotten gems to be found in the Spectacle Archive. We are always interested to explore collaborative projects based on our archives.

To find out more about our archive, which also includes 100s of original paper documents regarding independent media 1977-2000 please ontact archive@spectacle.co.uk to find out more or visit Spectacle Archive

 

 

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

New to the Spectacle Archive

Footage from the Q&A from the Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo screening at the National Film Theatre, Southbank is now available via the Spectacle Archive.

The Q&A featured Polly Nash, Gareth Peirce and Andy Worthington, and was chaired by Victoria Brittain.

Also available are interviews from the event.

If you are interested in organising a screening in your area contact us now.

Find screenings near you.

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo is available to purchase now, click here for more details.

Find out more about Spectacle’s Guantánamo Project

Visit our Archive for extra interviews and more

Find out more about Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo

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Micronomics

New to the Spectacle Archive

Interviews and footage from Spectacle’s Micronomics Project is now available through our Archive.

Micronomics investigates an understanding of small scale self-organised (micro-)initiatives and whether the economy has room for them.

The film considers their potential to challenge the dominant definition of ‘the economy’ and implication, when the value created and exchanged is of social nature.

Details about the project are now available, visit the Project Page for more details.

Watch all clips associated with Micronomics.

Learn about the group Bicycology which features in the project. Watch the Bicycology interviews.

Information about Cycle Training UK and watch the interviews.

Clips from Spectacle’s Waffle Bank shoot with Refugee Youth will also be uploaded to the archive.

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Vito Interview

New to the Spectacle Archive

Interview with Vito.

With his family’s burger van in danger Vito talks to Spectacle about his worries.

WATCH Vito’s Interview.

For details on our Battersea Power Station Project visit Spectacle’s Project Page.

To watch interviews and more visit Spectacle’s Archive.

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Battersea Power Station

New to the Spectacle Archive

From gracing the covers of a Pink Floyd album to dominating the Skyline of London, Battersea Power Station is one of the capital’s greatest cultural icons. Yet since being decomissioned in 1983, the building has steadily deteriorated while waiting for development plans to come into fruition. Spectacle has been following the ongoing proposed plans for the iconic building.

Now available on Spectacle’s Archive page is footage from Control Room A and Control Room B within the Power Station.

Footage from the REO Exhibit including interviews with local residents (Alan and Terry)  is also available.

More on the Battersea Power Station Project.

For more interviews and extras visit the Spectacle Archive.

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