Reflections on the filmmaking process
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Locked-Down shot was made during my final year at the University of Kent as a part of a visual anthropology course. We spent half of the year learning about the history of visual techniques within the subject and subsequently spent the other half of the time working on our own projects. During this, time I reflected on what I'd like my film to be about and I had many ideas. After some deliberation, I came up with the idea of a film documenting the every day scenarios that play out within a social enterprise in Canterbury called Discovery Catering where people with and without learning disabilities come together to gain skills in cooking and to run a pop up cafe. I came across the cafe by chance one day and it struck me as an excellent basis for the film. Its such as vibrant place with many characters who interact dynamically. I have always had an interest in the anthropology of food and was looking at this as a potential masters course; I like the concept that food and cooking can bring people together within social and political aims and also felt that there was something inherently very cinematic about the processes of preparing food. Furthermore, having worked in the past as a learning support assistant within special needs schools, I personally resonated with the idea of co-production, people with and without learning disabilities working together equally to create an outcome. I felt connected to all of these aspects and wanted to make a film bringing them together.
Discovery catering welcomed me into their kitchen almost immediately after I approached them. They were enthralled by the possibility of a film project because they felt it would help them within their endeavor for community engagement, helping to show the community what happens within the kitchen and to demonstrate the importance of co-production. I spent a long time observing the project whilst learning about film making processes within my visual anthropology class. We discussed the intentions for the film as part of a team and on the first day of filming everyone was excited. I managed to get a lot of b-roll with the intention of going back within following weeks to collect interview footage and to engage more with my subjects on camera as we got to know each other. Unfortunately, as you will see in the film, on the 20th of March, the British government suspended all public and social activity in a measure against the corona virus pandemic. This really threw a spanner in the works in terms of what the films main focus went on to be about. At a loss and panicking about the potential for my film, I started to document what was happening as I, along with many other students within my visual anthropology course, scrambled for new ideas. I live alone in Canterbury and am an isolationist at the best of times but the corona virus made contact with other people almost impossible and so I had no choice but to turn the camera to myself. There was also the issues of figuring out how to continue learning at the university as the visual anthropology course along with all other courses at the University of Kent moved online. This meant that I had to change the way I documented the filming process which in itself became the new topic for the film. It became a film about a film.
A few days later there were rumors that a total lock down was to be enforced within the UK. Apprehensively, I headed to my family home in North London amidst fears of not knowing when I would return and of spreading the virus to members of my own family. However, as well as documenting my own endeavors for the film, I also began to document the interactions of my family as I felt this to be not only a personal topic but reminiscent of a global situation and of lives of many families on lock down.
I have struggled in tying together the many themes within the film but I hope to stay true to ethnographic methods and communicate the uncertainty, untimely and random nature of current events. The film reflects how often our intentions don't always play out the way we may have quite imagined them within projects like this. However, within these situations we can still find interesting subject material.