Filming for peace!

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An interview with our producers, Naomi King (NK), CHIPS Volunteer and Kamika Nathan (KN), CHIPS Youth Worker.

We are so thankful for the work and expertise of all of the directors and talented individuals who have come together again to help the young people of Brixton make a professional short film for the second year running. Here we catch up with our two producers to get the lowdown on the new film ‘That’s How it Really Is’. We’re so grateful for their leadership and support – and for Naomi’s continued generous commitment and professional expertise as a volunteer once again!

Kamika (left) and Naomi (right)

What was the highlight of your experience with the project last year?

NK: The real highlight was seeing how passionate and talented the young people were, and the way they enthusiastically got involved in everything. Whatever is achieved from the film overall, the best thing is the way in which I saw them thrive and found so much purpose. (They were also an absolute joy to work with and so hilarious!)

KN: The highlight for me was seeing the young people on set. During our Zoom planning calls, we never envisioned something so big and professional. Watching the young people in action and showing up early on set each day rain or shine, also really showed me the character of these children. I learned a lot from them and it’s made me more passionate about working with them!

How will this year’s film build on last year’s work and what is your key hope?

NK: It’s great to be able to build on last year’s project, involving more young people in the making of it – both in front of, and behind, the camera. My dream would that it really does enable young people to open up about what is going on in their lives, makes them feel like they’re not alone, and gives everyone a real understanding and empathy as to what these young people go through.

KN: It’s my hope that, because of the important issues that the film discusses, it will reach a wider audience and that, with a bigger crew this year, the young people will gain experience of even more more jobs behind the camera (I now know what a gaffer really does!)

It’s been an honour to work with the amazing crew who have been adopted into our CHIPS family as, like us, they have fallen in love with the young people. We are so thankful that they have also volunteered to facilitate workshops and provide work experience for those young people wanting to get into the industry.

How will this year’s film project contribute to CHIPS’ mission of peacemaking in Brixton?

NK: This year, we were part-funded by the Lambeth Summer Violence Prevention Scheme which I think sums up part of the contribution that the filmmaking makes to peacemaking. Young people can get involved in something they are passionate about, within their community and with their friends (both old and new!) and can envision a brighter and more successful future for themselves and hopefully be caught up in less trouble.

The project also really build their values and their loyalty to one another, which importantly draws attention away from violence on the streets and channels it in really positive ways. Hopefully the local screenings we hold will also help join communities together, and the message will also be powerful. CHIPS truly does work in the centre of a conflict zone, and it’s great to help empower these young people to change their communities, and break the cycles that have caused them to not thrive like they were born to. 

KN: I feel that as the children wrote their stories and made the film, I could see healing taking place. They really did get an insight as to what was happening in each other’s lives and begin to offer support to each other. I believe the film will powerfully speak to other young people who possibly feel alone, and to those parents who are naive or closed off to the pressures of what it means to be young in these times.

Our actors really stretched themselves this time, as they had to go into their emotions and be vulnerable in front of a whole lot of people. For children from Brixton this is not the norm. Being vulnerable can mean people take disadvantage of you. I love these guys – they are true changemakers!

Without revealing too much, can you say a little about some of the issues that THIRI will help the young people taking part, and the viewers of the film, to tackle?

NK: The issues in the film revolve around the situations that young people personally face in their own home lives, behind closed doors. Whether that be addiction, abuse, self-harm, absent parents, or even parents who have passed away. We really do hope that is shows people what their lives are really like! We also hope it speaks into a conversation that thankfully is already flowing around issues of mental health, especially amongst young people. 

How did the filming go?

KN: During one of our planning sessions about what we were going to do over the summer, the young people wanted to go to the beach. Given the timeframe we had for filming I thought it would be a good idea to combine this with the film project, and so we went to Newhaven to do the filming. Newhaven beaches are such beautiful quiet coastlines – a perfect location for what we had in mind but not too far from home.

For some of our young people, it was their first time at a beach. It was windy, but it didn’t stop them from playing in the waves (and me too!) It is important to show them a different environment, and the freedom of the seaside is a synonym for them having freedom to release their personal pressures. It was a loooong, tiring and windy day, but at the same time I enjoyed it was nice to see them fast asleep on the way back!

So what’s next?

NK: The film is now currently being edited. We’ve hired a fantastic editor, and are planning to work alongside Young Creators UK, so that the young people can understand more about the editing process through workshops and further build their skills.

The directors will work closely with the editor and the wonderful Jasper will work with the colourist to apply the final touches before we move onto distributing it, and screening it in the local community this autumn.

After two years of film-making, would you say that ‘Brixton’s Got Talent’?

NK: Simon Cowell won’t know what’s hit him! There is also talk of the chance of a Brixton Film Festival soon. Watch this space! 

KN: Yes, the talent just keeps on flowing! Earlier this year the young people also recorded a song and this will be the soundtrack to to the film, bringing the two projects together. the success of that. Yes and a Brixton short film festival. We can’t wait to share the finished film with our supporters soon and hope to do that before the end of autumn!