It’s a wrap!

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Film-making in Angell Town

This August, CHIPS launched its Brixton summer programme, A Summer of Film in Angell Town. It’s an exciting six-week programme of storytelling, designed for and led by Brixton young people.

The idea of making a film emerged from our programme of activities with local young people during lockdown. Local mum and part-time CHIPS team member Kamika explains:  

“During the pandemic, CHIPS has been a prominent source of support for many families and young people in Brixton, providing a virtual youth club and mentoring sessions five days a week.

“It was during one of these sessions, when the young people and I were discussing plans for the summer, that they suggested they would like to make a film capturing what it is like to be a young person living in Brixton. I took this idea back to the team and they worked their magic!”

A clear objective was set for the film – to have young people tell their own story, confronting some of the issues they face in their day-to-day-lives, while giving a different perspective to the typical negative stereotypes so often communicated about young Black people.

Kamika and CHIPS team member Naomi, who has a background working in TV drama for the BBC and ITV, assembled ten enthusiastic local young people. And with the expert help of a drama workshop leader, two film directors and a director of photography, they got stuck straight in.

What Happened to Karen?

The first step was to discuss potential story ideas in a series of drama workshops. Some of the issues the young people explored included peer pressure and gangs, family and school relationships, and racism. From these discussions, they began to narrow down the theme and write a script. Soon the film, ‘What Happened to Karen?’ was born!

‘What Happened to Karen?’ was shot in and around the Angell Town estate over four days, including outside a school, in a local shop and in the park.

The story follows of a group of friends who, during their after-school routine, meet someone who accuses them of shoplifting and becomes aggressive and racist towards them. We don’t want to give away too many spoilers – but as the story develops, events do not pan out quite as you might expect!

“The film encourages us all to challenge the stereotypes that society, and the media, can often present – that all groups of young Black people must be up to trouble”, says Naomi. “Ultimately it’s a story of hope, and one that suggests that change is possible.”

A team effort

Each of the young people played an active role, from shaping the script, to acting and working behind the scenes.

“As well as offering young people the chance to do something creative with the summer, it’s helped them to gain new skills in teamwork and creative production and it’s helped them to find a voice, learn about themselves and grow in confidence,” says Naomi.

Kamika agrees and adds: “I am super proud of the young people for choosing to spend their summer on this project. Their level of commitment has been amazing and what they have achieved together in this short space of time is nothing short of miraculous!”

The film is currently being edited and set for release in September. If you are interested in learning more about the film and screening it with your youth, community or church group, please contact office@chipspeace.org.

CHIPS would like to express its grateful thanks to the staff of Low Price Food and Wine, workshop leader Rachel Griffiths, Film Directors Caspian Ajani and Carlos Byles, Director of Photography Lolly Michaels, and everyone who has given their time and support to the project.