Ecovisions in Malawi


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

Dr. Nicholson-Sanz is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London . 

During the pandemic she launched a call for young people around the world to share their ecovision – an idea for how to improve their environment and engender greater sustainability in their community. Four finalists were selected, two from India, one from Malawi, and one from England. 

Fanny Chidoola from Lilongwe, Malawi whose Ecovision was selected

Dr. Nicholson-Sanz reached out to Spectacle as the second half of this ambitious project began: developing the ecovision of the finalist from Malawi, Fanny Chidoola. In order to realise Fanny’s ecovision, she partnered with Malawian forestry science student Khumbo Matemba. Fanny and Khumbo would be mentored by Dr Nicholson-Sanz to stage a theatrical performance to encourage the stakeholders in their area to realise the changes needed. The performance would be filmed and this material, as well as further footage collected by participants, would become a final short film detailing the ecovision and it’s progress.

As Dr. Nicholson-Sanz lives in Kent, England, the actual filming would need to be done by the participants on the ground in Malawi, and with a limited budget the participants would be making the most of the camera they already had in their hands in the form of a smartphone. 

Participants were able to upgrade the capacity of their smartphone with tripods and additional memory cards. 


Spectacle has been developing a training programme for just such remote smartphone based video research projects. Anyone who has tried knows, it can be difficult to achieve good quality videos on a smartphone, and even more difficult to record footage which can be easily edited. Through a series of participatory workshops, Spectacle worked to upgrade the capabilities of the participants’ smartphones affordably, and offered clear guidance on best practices and filming techniques. 

Participants such as Fanny Chidoola learned to film interviews
Demonstrating how to achieve good exposure using a smartphone 


By the end of the workshop series, the participants felt ready to use their smartphones to record the performances, instruct others on how to get the best results from their smartphones, and already had recorded a good bit of quality footage of self interviews, location footage, and interviews with other stakeholders on the ground. 

Khumbo Matemba reviews framing and technique of a self-shot interview 


We are very excited to see the final short film from Dr. Nicholson-Sanz’s Young Ecovisions project when it premiers. 

If you are running or considering starting a participatory video project, consider the possibilities of Spectacle’s training workshops for your participants or yourself. We conduct our training remotely, in almost any timezone, and using any equipment available from smartphones to camcorders. We have worked with hundreds of academics, researchers, and community organisations and received very positive feedback on our approach and the results that our trainees can achieve with their cameras after just a few workshops. 

Participants such as learned to film location and action shots in their town

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Public Order Policing Then and Now

The Event 

In honour of the anniversary of the 1990 anti-poll demonstration on March 31st, Spectacle hosted a free screening of Despite TV’s film Battle of Trafalgar. This was followed by an online Q&A with filmmaker Mark Saunders.

The discussion brought out the many ways that the public order policing tactics captured by the film are still in use and can readily be seen in the policing of the #KilltheBill protests against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill, and recent public order policing at Clapham Common of the Sarah Everard Vigil.

The Protest and the Making of the Film 

Despite TV was a filmmaking collective based in Tower Hamlets that operated through the 80s and 90s. Working as a co-operative, sharing resources, and making all editorial decisions through consensus, the collective published magazine videos.

The main aim of Despite TV was to revert hierarchies commonly reproduced in the media industry, promoting video production as inclusive, non-hierarchical group activity, and shared authorship and editorial control. Everyone in the group, in fact, had access to equipment and initial training, could propose what to film, contributed to the technical realization of the initial ideas, and was co-director of the final films. In order to enhance participation and avoid the exclusion of marginal voices in the group, all decisions were taken by consensus and all tasks and roles -such as chairing meetings, but also interviewing, operating cameras, sound recording, or carrying out runner’s tasks- were shared in turns.

In 1990, Despite TV was working on a special issue on the poll tax called Despite the Poll tax. The proposed poll tax was despised throughout the country. It was a blatantly extortionate tax which required all individuals, regardless of wealth, to pay the same amount, and anti-poll tax chapters sprang up across the country. Despite the Poll Tax was not so much focused on the inequities of tax, but how the law would necessitate ID cards, which were the origin of infamous SA pass laws during aparthied. The tax would offer a great deal of  social control and create a data blackmarket. The tax itself was therefore a colonial instrument. It was actually the second time that the British government had tried to institute such a tax. The first time was in the 14th century and led to a famous peasants revolt. 

The magazine was nearly finished. Three camera crews went to the protest to get some shots for the end credits. They stationed one camera near the front, one in the middle, and one at the back. Their expectations for filming a peaceful joyous mass demonstration quickly went out the window. 

Violence against protestors by the police left many bruised and bleeding. Hundreds were arrested. Police horses and vans repeatedly drove through the crowd, trampling people underfoot – all in the name of public order. However, none of this violence was reflected in the narrative on the evening news which depicted the demonstrators as violent and the police as responding to life or death violence. 

Despite TV managed to persuade Channel 4 to commission a film based on the footage to create a film showing the events in the order they really happened. The documentary was broadcast on Channel 4 in Sept 1990 and resulted in the upending of the accepted narrative of that day. 

The film was also used in court as a part of a common defence of protestors who had been arrest that day, showing many were acting in legal self defence.

Connections to the Current Moment 

In policing of public events in the last year including at the George Floyd BLM protests in 2020, Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham common, and Kill the Bill protests happening currently in Bristol. 

In the Battle of Trafalgar we see police vans driving through crowds, and the same tactics were used in Brooklyn 2020. Police vans were driven into crowds of BLM protesters who were protesting the murder of George Floyd. The Battle of Trafalgar demonstrates that the police were not “out of control” but following a dangerous and near secret tactic which was very likely to cause a crowd to react violently. During the anti-poll tax demonstration, the film argues, the protesters gained no benefit from violence, but the state did benefit because it allowed them to paint all protestors as criminals. 

This narrative is easily created when media sources uncritically present police statements as their only coverage of such protests. Again there is an uncanny similarity between the commentary of a mounted police woman in 1990 and one in 2021, both who claim to have never seen such violence directed at police in their entire lives. 

Jump to 1:30 for the report on Bristol protests

The use of provocation by police including the use of vans, attacking women, collective punishment, kettling, creates a large dragnet of offenders and erases the divide between peaceful and violent protests. The criminalising of protesting creates an excuse for the use of violence which paints the entire cause (whether it be BLM or anti-tax demonstrations) to be viewed as criminal in the court of public opinion. 

April 3rd – National Day of Action

The 3rd of April has been designated as a national day of action against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill. Over 40 cities and counting across the UK will see #killthebill demonstrations, and they will be joined by those supporting the #ReclaimTheseStreets movement which grew from the murder of Sarah Everand and the policing of the vigils in her honour. 

In the demonstrations the week before violence from the police in Bristol created headlines of “violence against police” and “rioting,” but, as in 1990s, from the point of view of those on the ground the papers seemed to have switched around the subjects and objects of their sentences.

It will be interesting to see what policing tactics will be employed and what narrative the media will offer after April 3rd.

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Spectacle Master Class on Participatory Video

Spectacle has been invited to give a Master Class at the Italian National School of Participatory Video and Documentary Cinema.

This is the second year this School has run. The School consists of five intensive online weekends from February 26 to March 27. The public is welcome to join online film screenings. For those that sign up to the school the films will be followed by live debates on different facets of participatory video making. These courses will walk viewers down a path of shared audiovisual production practices, and seek to find together new ways to show reality.

The school will gather over 70 passionate documentary makers who embrace participatory tools and methods. Tutors will include Angelo Loy, Aline Hervé, Marco Damilano, Andrea Segre, Stefano Collizzolli, Davide Crudetti, Martina Tormena, Lucia Pornaro, Aline Hervé, Sergio Marchesini, Alberto Cagol, Sara Zavarise, Giulia Campagna, Maud Corino, and Chiara Tringali

Following a screening of The Truth Lies in Rostock, Mark Saunders and Michele De Laurentiis will discuss the film and invite participants to think about how participatory video can be a journalistic tool for community led investigative documentaries. 

The film will be screened live on Facebook and you can find a link here. 

The School is run by ZaLab is an association of filmmakers and social workers based in Padua, Italy. ZaLab promotes advocacy campaigns aimed to spread democracy and minority rights, especially through a grassroots distribution network.They focus on promoting their documentaries through independent and non commercial distribution.

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Spectacle’s Video Services

Are you looking to have your conference, seminar, event professionally filmed? Are you looking for an experienced, reliable and affordable company to deliver a high production value short film? Spectacle’s highly skilled crews provide high quality single or multi-camera videography at competitive prices to suit all your needs and budgets.

Spectacle is an award winning independent television production company specialising in documentary, community-led investigative journalism and participatory media.  Over the last 25 plus years, Spectacle delivered a variety of media products that have ranged from conference documentation, to short educational or promotional videos, from series of mini clips to longitudinal documentation of large social projects. Our list of clients range from broadcast channels and media companies to international NGOs, Charities, Universities and private companies and we have always received great feedback.

Filmmaking and video production can be a long and arduous process; Spectacle’s processes are transparent and ensure consistent contact and input with clients. This means that projects can be constantly monitored and evolved with the client. Our multi-skilled freelancers are familiar with a range of production equipment and post-production software, allowing a wealth of options for final outcomes and diversity of expertise in project management.

Equipment and Crews

Spectacle offers professional full HD video and photographic production and documentation services for online, print or DVD distribution. Our crews have experience of a variety of broadcast and non-broadcast productions, and are used to working in sensitive and difficult situations. We also have experience in working with educational and academic institutions.

Our editors are familiar with academic work environments, especially in the fields of anthropology, urbanism and humanities, enhancing our ability to deliver a reliable service for your conference or educational videos. Our team of freelancers also cover a variety of languages enabling Spectacle to be the perfect partner for non-English speakers.


Service standards

We can tailor our videography services to your needs. Single camera or multi-cam shooting, sound and light setting, interviews and vox pop, locations shots for higher production value: we are happy to discuss the best and most cost effective option to suit your needs. Whatever your choice in terms of crew and film typology, we value quality and do our best to deliver the best standard of service. For this reason all our services provide a full HD video recording and a sound operator to provide the best audio recording to your film. We also provide, when necessary, a basic extra light kit for all our video shooting.

Affordable and transparent costing

Spectacle offers a sliding scale, depending on funding and size of production. Our range of production options starts from £450 to cover videography for your seminar with full HD camera, sound operator and lights.

Get in touch by email: production@spectacle.co.uk

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Spectacle’s work shown at Airspace Gallery Exhibition

Material from the Silwood Project will be shown during the Small Change Exhibition at the Airspace Gallery, as well as some of Spectacle’s work with Brussels partner Plus-tôt Te laat.

small change flyer_web

Small Change focuses on change and place making in the city, seen both as a physical and imagined entity. The project comprises a group exhibition featuring existing and new work by four artists, a public intervention and a talk. Alongside artists, collectives from the UK and beyond contribute to the exhibition with audiovisual material that documents their engagement with the public realm. The exhibition is a response to the book Small Change by architect Nabeel Hamdi and its main idea that small-scale actions have the power to bring about positive change in urban communities. Acknowledging creative practice and collectivism as agents of change, the exhibition invites artists and collectives whose practice addresses issues of place and social change. The artists will realize new work, alongside showing existing sculptures, drawings and video’s. Audiovisual material from collectively-run projects that aim to making meaningful contributions to their environments, will open up the gallery space to various localities and concerns.

Small Change is curated by Sevie Tsampalla and the participating artists are: Jane Lawson, Noor Nuyten, Lauren O’Grady and Claire Weetman with contributions by collectives: Buddleia / public works, Network Nomadic Architecture, Plus-tôt Te laat, Quartier Midi and Spectacle.

Spectacle’s following Silwood video’s will be shown:

Work in progress. 13:49
Moving on 1:43
Time to move on 1:45
My walk home 3:36
Watercolours 2:34

The exhibition is running from the 8th of November till the 7th of December. Enough time to give it a visit. The opening hours are: Thu-Sat 11pm-5pm and Tue-Wed by appointment. Find out how to get there.

See our Spectacle Catalogue for buying video’s from the Silwood Project.
See our Blog Homepage for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Urban Platform in Brussels

Brussels XL Bravo 04-04-07

This weekend, there will be a 3-day long conference in Brussels organised by City Mine(d) on urban issues and initiatives concerning how to make cities more liveable. The conference begins Friday 19th November at 19:00 with a panel debate on ‘small initiatives, big challenges’. On Saturday 20th November, closed workshops will be held in the afternoon, with group discussions from 19:00 to 23:00. And on Sunday 21st November, from 10:00 til 22:00, there will be a bazaar of idea-sharing and proposals.

For more information, or to register for this event, see their webpage: http://urbanplatform.citymined.org/

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Sheffield DocuFest debates the ethics of Poverty on TV

Poverty in the Media

Can documentaries about people living in poverty in the UK inform debate without resorting to voyeurism?

This relevant topic will be hotly debated on Friday at Sheffield’s documentary festival.

Among those taking part is Mark Saunders, independent documentary filmmaker and founder of Spectacle, a campaigning media production company and ever expanding web presence. Spectacle produced the Poverty and Participation in the Media Project.  Mark will be showing clips discussing the BBC’s documentary The Tower and Channel 4’s Rich Kid, Poor Kid.

He will be joined on the platform by leading UK programme makers Andy Glynne, Nick Fraser, Jim Boyle, Alexander Goodman and Robert Pendlebury. Brian Woods of True Vision and Julia Lewis from the Rowntree Foundation are moderating.

Although reality shows have attempted to provide more insight into the realities of life in poverty, they beg the question as to whether contrasting wealth and poverty is a sound approach. There may be better ways to create memorable, sensitive and engaging films.

After the debate, there will a series of shortlisted pitches.

The event is being hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has partnered with Mosaic Films and BBC Storyville to find documentary makers who can produce compelling stories which engage audiences and encourage debate on poverty in the UK.

Venue: Town Hall Reception Rooms

Date: Friday 05 November 2010

Time: 10:30am

Click Poverty and the Media for more blogs
Or visit our Poverty and the Media project pages for more information and videos.

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Chief organiser of Commonwealth Games promotes his services

Suresh Kalmadi, chief organiser of Commonwealth Games, has offered up his services to the 2012 Olympics. He claims the games in Delhi have been such an outstanding success that 2012 would greatly benefit from his input. Despite last-minute worries about the unstable construction work of the Athlete’s village, “unfit for human habitation”; Kalmadi argues the event has shown the world that a Third World country is a perfectly capable host.

The Commonwealth Games were intended to showcase India’s economic rise to the world, but it soon became bogged-down in incompetence and infighting. Its defenders have proclaimed that the opening ceremony was enough to silence critics, although some have stated the games have suffered from poor ticket sales and general lack of interest from the public. Kalmadi denies all criticism and insists it has been an unqualified achievement.

For more information on this story click here

Click here for more blogs
See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Battersea Power Station: presentation of new plans by REO 31st March.

Battersea Power Station
Presentation of the new plans by Real Estates Opportunities

at

DRCA Community Centre
Behind TESCO Metro in Battersea Park Road
Charlotte Despard Avenue SW11 5HD

Wednesday 31st March 2010 – 12 noon to 2.00pm

Jeremy Castle, Planning Director, will talk about the planning application that Wandsworth Council will decide upon in July.

3,700, luxury flats, riverside park, hotel, tube station surrounding the Grade II* listed Power Station which will become a retail centre.

This item will be early on the agenda and be a fairly brief introduction to the scheme.

Also

The Nine Elms Opportunity Area is creating a feeding frenzy of speculative buildings being planned – The US Embassy, 30 storey flats at the gas works, 50 storey flats on Covent Garden Market, 60 storey block at St George’s Vauxhall. What do local people want?

Whose Opportunity?

Battersea Community Forum hosted by Doddington and Rollo Community Association
RSVP for light refreshments.
Wandsworth Rights Umbrella Group and Battersea Power Station Community Group.

bulletin@batterseapowerstation.org.uk

For more information, visit our Battersea Power Station project page

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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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