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 

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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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Memories of Battersea – Screening Event

We are pleased to announce that after a few months of filming and collecting stories from Battersea residents, we are ready to screen our project to the public!

Memories of Battersea is a video oral history project run by Spectacle and part funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gave young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

The screening will take place on Monday, 15th October at
Senior Citizen Club
234 Carey Gardens
London SW8 4HW.

  • 4.30pm – 5.30pm – walking tour of the Carey Gardens Estate with Mark Saunders – filmmaker, Brian Barnes – mural artist and Nick Wood – architect
  • 5.30pm – 7.30pm – screening and discussion with contributors and filmmakers

You can find trailers to “Memories of Battersea” in our previous posts or on Spectacle’s Youtube channel: bit.ly/MBATTtrailers

More info about the event can be also found here

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Memories of Battersea: Nick

Memories of Battersea is an oral history video project run by Spectacle and part funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gives young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

In this video, Spectacle met Nick Wood, the eclectic architect who designed and built the Carey Gardens estate in the early 70s in SW8 Battersea in Wandsworth.

Nick Wood, the GLC architect of Carey Gardens estate

Throughout his successful career at the London County Council and the Greater London Council, Nick aimed to create “council estates that didn’t look like council estates”, designing buildings that could provide an enjoyable living environment for its residents. Nick applied Sir Leslie Martin’s theories on land use to design Carey Gardens estate and his model proved that it was possible to achieve high density with low-rise buildings. During this time period, this was seen as revolutionary seeing as high-rise blocks were seen as more fashionable but cost more to build.

The Carey Gardens estate model, designed by Nick Wood

This Memories of Battersea episode gives an insight into the history of social housing, focusing on the effort of building new homes for the Battersea community after the devastation of World War II. Nick also walks through his theory use and intentions on building Carey Gardens as he sits down with an aerial map of the estate. He also mentions the Carey Gardens Co-operative, the tenant management organisation that plans events and coastal trips for the residents, proving how good urban housing design creates vibrant and happy resident communities.

Watch the full film here.

Visit Spectacle’s Memories of Battersea channel on Vimeo to watch other episodes featuring Battersea residents’ stories.

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Memories of Battersea: Mohamed

Memories of Battersea is a video oral history project run by Spectacle and funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gives young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

In this video, we meet Mohamed Ali, a local community organisation founder and Battersea resident who immigrated from Somalia with his family in the late 90s to seek a better life away from the on-going Somali civil war.

Mohamed Ali, local Battersea resident and founder of Elays Network.

Mohamed spends his time working in the R & E Centre on St Rule Street in the SW8 area. He started Elays Network to work primarily in youth development and education but as the organisation expanded, they began to involve men and women of all ages in various activities, focusing on building bridges between the migrant communities and the host communities.

Most recently some of the organisation’s women came together to curate an event called Somali Women in the Arts which saw them exhibit their artwork, from paintings to poetry, in the Battersea Power Station.

Somali Women in the Arts exhibition, held at the Battersea Power Station.

He talks about his early experiences adjusting to life in London, the urban development and gentrification in Battersea and its impact on the lower and working class, the establishment of the Somali community within the borough of Wandsworth and how he founded Elays Network. He also relives some key events of how Elays has helped to strengthen and and bring together the Battersea community, as well as suggesting how the migrant and host communities should move forward in becoming a better integrated, accepting and united society.

Watch the full film here on Vimeo.

Visit Spectacle’s Memories of Battersea channel on Vimeo to watch other episodes featuring Battersea residents’ unique stories.

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Memories of Battersea: Christine

Memories of Battersea is a video oral history project run by Spectacle Productions and funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gives young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

In this episode we met theatre director Christine Eccles in the Battersea Art Centre. Christine tells her story about Mayday Theatre, a politically engaged theatre company based in Battersea during the seventies and early eighties.

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 16.10.45

Christine moved to Battersea from Liverpool in the early seventies and, inspired by radical theatre and the political atmosphere at the time, started her own socialist community theatre group. Working with the local residents and the Labour council they put on shows around South London that were based on local issues and stories such as the lives of factory workers, the gentrification of Battersea and the growth of the National Front in the area.

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In this short film she recounts stories from some of their most memorable performances, shares her photos from the time, describes her experiences of working with the local community, and explains why her work was an important political force in the history of Battersea. She describes the neighbourhood’s radical history, what it was like when she moved there, and the changes that have taken place since then, including the sudden switch from a Labour to a Conservative council and the rapid change in housing landscape.

Christine is the second episode in the series. Watch Memories of Battersea: Jean, the first episode, here.  

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Free video training for young adults resident in the Battersea area

Memories of Battersea: Free video film making training for young adults resident in Wandsworth

MBATT2

Continuing Spectacle’s oral history video project “Memories of Battersea” we are running a series of free video production workshops for young adults (18-30 year olds) resident in the Wandsworth Borough, particularly SW8 and the Queenstown Ward.

The workshops will run during November and December please contact production@spectacle.co.uk for dates / times and locations.

All equipment is provided, no prior knowledge is necessary and it is completely free. There are 10 places so book now to be sure to get your place.

The 2 day workshops will cover practical hands on digital video production including shooting an interview and shoot locations.

Other workshops will be scheduled in 2018.

Please contact production@spectacle.co.uk to book, we are happy to answer your questions and provide details.

Memories of Battersea: Jean

Memories of Battersea is an oral history video project run by Spectacle and part funded by the Wandsworth Grant Fund. The project gives young adults from Battersea the opportunity to be trained in film-making while producing short films about their neighbourhood, collecting memories from elder Battersea residents, bridging intergenerational gaps and engaging with the history of their borough.

In Memories of Battersea we start with Jean, a Wandsworth born survivor of the Second World War. Jean recounts for us what life was like living through the German bombardment of V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets, her evacuation spent in Oxfordshire as a child, what has become of her first home in Savona Street as well how she feels about new development in the Battersea area.

Jean grew up in Wandsworth Borough as a child during the Second World War. Losing family members and friends, Jean tells us about the bombardment on London by V-1 flying bombs. Although only a small child, such terrible times have remained with Jean for her entire life.

After life became too dangerous for people in Battersea as a result of the bombing, she was evacuated to the village Grendon Underwood in Oxfordshire. There she was cared for by a couple in a large rectory with many others from London. Jean’s safety was short-lived however when upon her return to Battersea, the German V-2 rockets began, knocking a Church down nearby.

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A still of Jean from her interview

Although Jean and her mother survived the war at home, the same could sadly not be said for her father whom was called up to fight. As many families celebrated in the streets of London, marking the end of WWII at by holding street parties called ‘Peace Teas’, Jean’s family alongside many others would never see their loved ones return from the field.

Now living in Carey Gardens near The Patmore Estate, Jean has witnessed a dramatic change in the area. No longer Savona Street, Jean’s old home has become part of what is now known as Savona Estate. More worrying for Jean however, there are now plans to build a large number of flats on the estate, a building much taller than those surrounding it including Carey Gardens.

Jean worries that these new flats may attract a different demographic of people, which wouldn’t suit the friendly nature of her beloved estate. This film was shot by participants on Spectacle’s 4 day training course.

Watch the full film here

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Bosco Jones on the International Brigade and Spanish Civil War

 

 

John ‘Bosco’ Jones was a member of the International Brigade from 1936-1939 during the Spanish Civil War. He fought against the fascist government in Spain during this time alongside the Second Spanish Republic and was among over 2000 british people who joined the International Brigade. The International Brigade’s aims were to stop a nationalist dictatorship taking over Spain and to stop fascism from spreading to neighbouring countries such as France.

Bosco left England in ’36 and made his way to Paris where the International Brigade headquarters were. He then had a difficult journey to Spain as France had closed it’s borders to them, so they had to cross the Pyrenees mountains to get there. Many of the Brits who went to Spain were already fighting against the growing fascism movement in the UK. When Bosco and his friends heard about the treatment of the Second Spanish Republic by the government they immediately started collecting donations of food and money for them before going out to fight alongside them.

When Bosco and his fellow soldiers got to Spain they travelled in lorries to their first location and after that spent many months at a time in trenches. They fought in many battles including the famous battle of Jarama where many troops lost their lives, including many of Bosco’s friends. Even though Franco’s government succeeded in taking control over Spain the work of the International Brigade is still appreciated to this day and Bosco has no regrets in fighting against fascism.

Watch the full Bosco on the International Brigade interview here

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