Residents, camera, action!

Proud residents of a housing estate often portrayed in movies as crime-ridden have come together to challenge perceptions by telling their own story on celluloid. Prop masters on feature films often litter the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate in Kilbu

Proud residents of a housing estate often portrayed in movies as 'crime-ridden' have come together to challenge perceptions by telling their own story on celluloid.

Prop masters on feature films often litter the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate in Kilburn, with extra rubbish and graffiti in an effort to make it seem more forbidding.

So the community formed a make-shift film crew after resident Matthew Rosenberg suggested residents hit back at the negativity and tell their own story.

The film project has now become a real team effort, involving everyone from primary school children and the elderly holding boom microphones, conducting interviews and filming wide-angle shots of the grade two listed buildings.


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Mr Rosenberg said: "Film crews would often come and put broken mattresses on the estate to make it look awful. We came up with this idea after seeing our home depicted as a crime-ridden hell hole.

"The idea was that it's us speaking for ourselves. We haven't just interviewed people who like it here. We've had some people who are really negative, and a lot of people are really positive."

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Ann Franklin, who volunteered on the production, said: "The idea was to show that a council estate is not always a sink estate."

Steven Herman, 15, who helped with filming, said he got involved to help show that his estate 'has a sense of community and people like living here.'

"Because of the lay-out of the estate you can see what's going on," he said. "I was allowed out at a young age. You're forced to know everyone and everyone looks out for each other."

And ten-year-old Jack Kelly, who helped with the interviews and sound, said: "Our estate is not like other estates. It's interesting because it's different and it's friendly."

Mr Rosenberg said the idea had been kicking around for a long time, but that he had only been able to secure lottery funding last year.

Filming began in December and carried on into January. Now the team is beginning the long task of editing the hours of footage into a finished product.

One notable interview was with a resident who is 104-years-old, who escaped from Nazi Germany and has lived on the estate since it was built.

The film crew also interviewed Neave Brown, the architect who designed the buildings in the 1960s.

Mr Rosenberg said: "The process of making the film has brought people together on the estate. I want it to promote an interest in the estate and appreciation of the thought that went into building it."

He added: "There are four or five architects living here because of the building's history. It's such an interesting and mixed community."

And Mr Rosenberg said local musicians were working on special music for the film.

He added that, when it is finished, every resident of the estate is going to be given a DVD of the film. And there will be a special screening of the film, expected to be between 20 and 40 minutes long, at either the Tricycle or Hampstead Theatre.

ben.greening@archant.co.uk

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