Spectacle is excited to launch a new video library on Vimeo on Demand containing material produced on and with the Exodus collective. This includes both Spectacle produced TV documentaries: Exodus: Movement of Jah People and Exodus From Babylon along with extras and bonus material including an anti crack song and music video made by members of the collective with Spectacle and an appearance on Swiss youth culture TV show ZEBRA.
We will continue to add matierial from the archive and organise online screening events.
The Luton based Exodus Collective came into existence in 1992 as part of the growing DIY culture which arose in response to unemployment, poverty and frustration amongst young people. They organised free ‘rave’ parties, renovated derelict homes, set up a community farm and a community centre. Their philosophy had a strong spiritual strand, appealing to notions of community and natural justice in its struggle for survival and renewal. Their utopian project, whilst always peaceful, presented a challenge to the status quo and was met with powerful opposition.
Exodus offered working, viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills, poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.
Exodus was a unique urban phenomenon which did not simply confront but intelligently challenged societal assumptions and values. Exodus blended a volatile mixture of rastafarianism, new-age punk and street smart politics. “We are not drop outs but force outs.”
EXODUS: MOVEMENT OF JAH PEOPLE
Exodus, Movement of Jah Peopleinvestigates the group’s quest to regenerate their disaffected community by squatting and renovating decayed buildings. Their regular raves brought ex-army, ex-estate agents, ex-shop assistants, and ex-criminals together as Exodus, a dance collective with a new direction, an attempt to offer viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills such as poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.
“This remarkable film is an antidote to the dereliction and paranoia on Britain’s streets. Squatting and renovating decayed buildings, Exodus pursue a mutually agreed quest to regenerate their disaffected community… For anyone interested in a street relevant discussion on drugs, criminality, spirituality and community, this film is a must see.” – Squall Magazine 1995
EXODUS FROM BABYLON:
Exodus from Babylon investigates the intricate web of opposition to the Exodus group, from aggressive policing to local government obstruction. It reveals the shift in policing from reactive peace keeping to proactive intervention, involving a series of special operations by Bedfordshire Police.
The programme looks in detail at a number of police actions against Exodus, including the prosecution and acquittal of collective member, Paul Taylor, for possession of Ecstasy and for murder. It asks why the strategy of getting tough with Exodus emerged and identifies a number of interlocking interests at play.
Exodus from Babylon contains original music by the Exodus Collective and some great reggae tunes.
Broadcast on Channel 4 as part of the Renegade TV series.
Please contact Spectacle directly if you are interested in screening any of the films in this collection publicly: email@example.com
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This week is Refugee Week, a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. Founded in 1998, Refugee week is held every year around World Refugee Day, which is on the 20th of June.
Across the country hundreds of organisations host programmes of arts, cultural, sports and educational events. At Spectacle we have been working with refugees in a variety of countries for many years, and this week we invite you to watch our films about refugees.
Micronomics Refugee Youth Interviews
The Micronomics Project investigated 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
Interviews and footage from Spectacle’s Micronomics Project is now available through our Archive.
Make yourself comfortable. Give yourself a few minutes to listen to what these people would like to tell us. This film is a succession of portraits of ‘Paperless’ people.
Filmed in Brussels and released in 2007.
The ‘Paperless’, the ex-‘Paperless’ and also their Belgian loved-ones answer the main question- “When the papers arrive, what would change in your lives? ” All of them reveal their hopes, wishes and plans. What would change in relation to the world or their relationships with others? What impact would that have on the image that these people have made for themselves and our society? Some of them original, some moving, their answers call out to us.
In August 1992 Lichtenhagen estate, Rostock, in the former East Germany Police withdrew as fascists petrol bombed 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.
Refugee Week’s vision is for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to live safely within inclusive and resilient communities, where they can continue to make a valuable contribution.
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June 2021 marks the 30 years since the founding of INURA, the International Network for Urban Research and Action. In that time, INURA has developed into a resilient network for people involved in action and research in localities and cities. The Network consists of activists and researchers from community and environmental groups, universities, and local administrations, who wish to share experiences and to participate in common research.
INURA advocates for social justice. Most recently INURA spoke out against the arrest and imprisonment of Eugene Kalinouski, 22, urban geographer, who was arrested in Belarus for during a political protest. Belarus has a history of arresting those who dissent with the government, and are facing international sanctions after the recent extraordinary lengths they went to in order to arrest a blogger. Other examples of the issues that Network members are involved in include actions such as standing in solidarity with workers, criticising environmentally unsound development processes and research on major urban renewal projects, the urban periphery, community-led environmental schemes, urban traffic and transport, inner city labour markets, do-it-yourself culture, and social housing provision. In each case, the research is closely tied to, and is a product of, local action and initiative.
INURA was founded in 1991 in Salecina, Switzerland as a network with a self-organising, non-hierarchical, decentralised structure. INURA is also a member of the Habitat International Coalition, a global network for the right to housing and social justice.
Since 1991, INURA has held yearly conferences in cities around the world, although the 30th conference, which will take place in Luxembourg, has been postponed until 2022 due to the global pandemic.
Spectacle’s founder Mark Saunders is a founding member of INURA and Spectacle’s archive contains valuable video footage or urban environments throughout the 80s, 90s, and 00s from Montreal to Brussels to Berlin which is available for the researchers in the INURA network.
Spectacle has long focused on inequality in urban environments and precarious housing arrangements including squats, cooperatives, evictions, and estates. All this material and more can be explored through our archive.
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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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or visit Spectacle Archive