Big Sleep Out 2017

Last week, we had our first preview for Sleeping Rough at The Big Issue Foundation’s Big Sleep Out at the Oval, London. The film got an amazing reception, and I was stunned by the positive feedback from both members of the public and Big Issue vendors, who had first-hand experience of some of the events we were depicting. I have to say a massive thank you to the team at the Big Issue Foundation for putting on such a momentous event, and of course our post-production team for pulling it out of the bag and making sure the film was ready in time for the screening.

Throughout the night, we did a series of live streams featuring interviews, speeches and performances from the event. You can take a look at a compilation of all our live videos here:

Stay tuned for more news about the film, coming soon!

Sleeping Rough: One Year On

Incredibly, it’s exactly a year since we first published our Kickstarter for Sleeping Rough…

We’ve come a really long way since then, and it’s entirely thanks to all the support we’ve had throughout the process; from charities, organisations and above all, from you guys, our backers and all the individuals who’ve pushed us to get to where we are now.

So where are we now? Well, the film’s actually finished! It was definitely not an easy process, we’ve had a lot of setbacks along the way, but by pushing through, we did get there. Since successfully reaching our target last year, we held auditions right at the beginning of the year (a special thank you goes to Michael Chandler and Cardboard Citizens), and managed to find our extremely talented cast, including Elle Payne, Nolan Willis, Megan Prescott, David Olapoju, Hayley Wareham and so many others. The cast really are the very core of the film; we put them in some very tough situations, emotionally and physically, and they had to deal with some harrowing storylines and scenes, but I was constantly amazed by the commitment, bravery, and above all, humanity each of our actors brought to the film. Many of the actors involved had lived out experiences just like the ones they were portraying, so for them to relive them in front of the camera, and with such conviction, is something I can never thank them enough for.

We filmed throughout Easter, in a gruelling process involving long commutes within London and Bristol (a special shout out goes to Fergus, who had the unfortunate duty of driving the van, but never once complained), scary moments dealing with members of the public, reshoots, postponements and SO MUCH COFFEE. Once we’d finally shot the final scene, on a busy Whiteladies Road in Bristol, it was pretty weird to actually have the film in the can, after several weeks of filming all day long, and I have to admit a pretty sad experience, after working so closely with all the cast and crew. A mention really does have to go to our crew on the shoot as well, for sticking with the film throughout the whole process; not only did they ensure that the film got done, and to such a high quality, but most of all they brought a warm, comfortable atmosphere to the set, something so important, especially when making a film like this.

Then, we got into editing; always a slog to get through, our incredible post-production team, including Kelsey, Rupert, Rich and Darren have been amazing, putting in countless hours and sifting through terabytes of footage to piece together something that’s moving, and powerful, but above all truthful. Sitting in front of a computer in a dark room for hours on end can be a frustrating and lonely process, but I can’t fault our team for what they’ve done.

And now, in just two days, we have our first preview! We’re going to be screening a short section of the film of the film to a massive audience at the Big Issue’s Big Sleep Out this Friday, at The Oval in London. It’s pretty terrifying to be putting the film (or at least part of it) in front of a wide audience for the first time, but it’ll the beginning of the most important part of the entire process; getting the message out to people, telling the stories we’ve heard and raising awareness of the state of homelessness in the UK, and what people can do to help. Keep an eye out, as we’ll be bringing you live updates of the night over on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/sleepingroughfilm. We also have to thank Justine Tatt over at the Big Issue Foundation for allowing us to screen the film, and for organising such a momentous event.

After the Sleep Out, we’ll begin with our submissions to film festivals, and also organising our tour to schools and colleges, aiming not only to raise awareness of homelessness as it is now, but also how easy it can be to become homeless yourself, and how to be aware of the warning signs. The 16-25 demographic of those becoming homeless is one of the fastest rising at the moment, and hopefully by raising awareness of the warning signs of homelessness, and how to avoid, fewer young people will end up sofa surfing, staying in hostels or temporary accommodation, or even sleeping on the streets.

We also have some exciting news for next year! We’re working with Bristol City Council and Bristol Homeless Forum in organising Homelessness Awareness Week 2018, taking place from the 24th February to 3rd March; during the week, we’ll be holding a special screening of Sleeping Rough at the Watershed Cinema, accompanied by other short films tackling the issue of homelessness. There’ll be activities throughout the week, aiming to raise awareness of homelessness in Bristol, what services there are available, and how people can get involved. For more info and updates on the week, go to: www.bristolhf.org.uk, and we’ll also be posting updates on our website: www.pastlesproductions.com/sleeping-rough-the-story.

Finally, I’d just like to thank once again everyone that’s carried us through this process; like I said, it hasn’t been easy, we’ve lost a lot of sleep, weight and sanity over the year, but we’re so glad we decided to take on this film. The response has been monumental, we’ve had feedback from people, not just in the UK, but from all over the world, and we really do hope that we can make a difference, by representing the stories of people that have experienced life on the streets, and working towards a world in which no one is forced into homelessness. Thank you to all the people we’ve interviewed, for sharing your stories with us, and for being so truthful and honest. Thank you to all the charity leaders and shelter workers out there who supported us, allowed us into their worlds and who are already doing such an incredible job of trying to make the world a bit safer. Finally, thank you to all you guys, for listening to us and making the project what it is today. Stay tuned.

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The Hardest Fight – tickets available now

Not every battle is fought in the ring.

Tickets for The Hardest Fight, our Exeter Phoenix-commissioned short film on mental health in boxing, are available now at the following link: http://www.twoshortnights.com/fri-1-dec-1/

It’s been a tricky shoot, but the campaign is ongoing, and we’d like to thank all the people who’ve supported us, especially at Exeter Phoenix and Empire Fighting Chance.

Democracy in Crisis?

Owain is currently working abroad in Catalonia, producing videos for an intercultural organisation based in Barcelona. Right now, Barcelona is in the throes of a political war between the Catalan and Spanish governments, following the recent independence referendum on the 1st October, which was deemed illegal by the central Spanish government. Protests have been going on constantly in the Catalan capital, against the extreme reaction of the Spanish government; on the day of the referendum, videos emerged of Spanish police – who had been sent into the region to prevent citizens from attending the vote – attacking Catalan voters and using excessive force. Almost 1,000 voters were reportedly injured.

Below is a video of protests that took place on Saturday the 22nd this month; Catalans were protesting against the political imprisonment of two Catalan separatist leaders, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez.

That’s a wrap!

That’s a wrap!

After a fairly intense week and all the research we’ve done over the last few months, we’re delighted to say that shooting finished yesterday on our Exeter Phoenix-commissioned film, The Hardest Fight! The whole cast and crew were amazing, and a special thank you goes to Empire Fighting Chance​ in Bristol for letting us use the space.

The film will premiere at Two Short Nights film festival; tickets will be released soon here: http://www.twoshortnights.com/

Watch this space. 

Enjoy a cheeky still from the film, with a very sweaty Nolan Willis, as well as a few behind the scenes shots from Ben Davies.

The Hardest Fight – LIVE

We’re really excited to say that our crowdfunding campaign for The Hardest Fight is now LIVE!

The campaign – commissioned by the Exeter Phoenix – is based around a short film about a young boxer dealing with depression in the lead up to their first boxing match. The campaign aims to look at links between mental health and boxing and at how the sport can help people to battle against mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

As part of the campaign, we’ve interviewed mental health professionals, boxers and young people, and we’ll be releasing these interviews throughout the process. You can watch the first interview, with Bristol University student Davina Chao, here:

Please find out more by watching the videos above and following the link below to pledge:

https://secure.livetree.com/#!/item/livetree/6089

Work Experience 2017

It was a pleasure this week to host Pierre and Florence, two work experience students from Devon; over the course of the week, they learnt skills in pre production – including creating call sheets, risk assessments and shot lists – through to filming and working with lighting, sound and camera setups, up to post production, and using different editing and colour grading software. You can watch the short film they made, entirely conceived, shot and edited in just three days below, and read their opinions about the week underneath.

 

Florence:

“As there are a variety of different views on what is classed as ‘Freedom’, we decided to ask the people of Exeter their opinion. The style of video we chose reflected on how different people have similar yet individual ideas on the exact same concept. The people we chose to interview were different ages and from different countries and places – this was interesting because they all had unique views whilst still sharing the same kind of values.

Whilst creating this short film, one of the difficulties that occurred was having to use the in-camera sound in one of the interviews (since there was a problem with the microphone footage); we tried to edit the sound but ended up having to cut the interview completely due to too much background noise and significantly low quality on the sound file.

During the work experience placement, we learnt how to use different softwares and film equipment – from how to write a call sheet, editing scripts, changing camera settings, fixing lighting, recording and syncing sound to colour correcting and editing in professional computer programs. This week has been really enjoyable and I’ve learned a lot about the film industry – I’m extremely glad I had this opportunity!”

Pierre:

“On this work experience week, we were assigned the task to make a short, three minute film with a certain criteria to adhere to, which consisted of: having a shot of flowers, dealing with the topic of freedom, and finally, including the line: “Life’s flashing by, so fast to see the colours”. Florence and I decided to make a Voxpop-esque video where we would ask the people of Exeter to discuss their notion of freedom, whilst occasionally overlaying “artistic” shots.

This short film helped us gain a lot of experience within the film domain as we were taught in a lot of depth how to operate cameras, software and additional equipment. I believe that this technical knowledge is vital if you want to get in to film as I have learnt throughout the week. I am glad that I chose this placement as the insight I gained was really beneficial. I also learnt that the people of Exeter each have their unique ideologies and identity. Rather than stating the obvious, they provided alternative and provoking answers.”

New Showreel

We have a new showreel out, highlighting the commercial work we’ve done over the last year; it includes footage from a really wide range of projects, including theatre performances, viral charity videos and music videos.

If you’re interested in collaborating with us, you have a band that needs a music video or a charity that needs some marketing, get in touch! Shoot us an email at info@pastlesproductions.com, and we’ll get straight back to you to arrange a meeting to understand exactly what you want and how we can work best to your needs.

Sleeping Rough – Our Manifesto

Alan

We speak a lot about what we can do to reduce homelessness, to make sure people have homes of their own and aren’t being forced to live on the street. Obviously it’s such a complicated issue, that there are hundreds of answers, and not one of them is totally right. We may never ‘fix’ homelessness. But this campaign would be pointless if we didn’t at least try. There are several things we can do to at least better the situation; I always tell people, at the very least, look someone in the eye when you pass them on the street. You don’t need to give them change, offer them your bed or change the world, but if you give someone a nod or a smile as you walk past, you’ve done something. If you have more time, you can buy someone a coffee or help out with your local shelter or charity.

But at the end of the day, these are all things that are just making a shit situation slightly better. What we need to do is to make sure that the shit situation doesn’t exist in the first place. All these things won’t reduce homelessness in the long term, and that’s what we need to look to. We need serious legislative, political change, and now – in the UK at least – we have the opportunity to create that change. The General Election, even if you think it’s a foregone conclusion (and it’s not, not until the final vote is cast), actually gives us, citizens, the electorate, normal fucking people, the opportunity to put into power a party that

A) genuinely cares about reducing homeless and;

B) knows what to do, and will follow up on their promises.

Now, I’m not going to tell you exactly who to vote for. Instead, I’m going to tell you what measures are needed, based on research and interviews we’ve done with people at both ends of the scale – professionals and members of the homeless community themselves – and then I’m going to tell what each party offers. Then, make your own decision.

What needs to be done now?

  • More housing!
    • A key issue that all the main parties recognise is that there is a desperate and urgent need to build houses. Not only do more houses need to be built, however, but the government needs to promise to keep those houses affordable, and stick to that promise. This means rather than eventually raising the prices of the housing built, the property needs to stay affordable for low earners, either through state ownership or a cap on price hikes.
    • As well as housing in general, there is also a need for state-owned social housing, to provide stable, long-term accommodation for those with low to no income.
    • More houses need to be built year-on-year in order to maintain stability for future generations getting into the housing market, otherwise we’re likely to end up with even higher levels of homelessness and in turn, more crime, higher unemployment, a worse economy and basically an even shitter country.
  • Funding for local councils, specifically allocated to homelessness.
    • Local councils need to be given the resources (basically, money), specifically allocated to help those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. As reasons for homelessness and statistics surrounding it vary from city to city, local councils need to be given the freedom and the funding to deal with the issue as best suits their local area.
    • Councils ought to be given guidelines on how to reduce homelessness in their area. Part of the support given to councils should be linking them up with professional homelessness services in their area, who have the skills and experience to reduce homelessness if given the resources
    • Funding devolved to local councils should include money earmarked for emergency shelters, move-on accommodation, increased mental health provision and employment support services.

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  • More shelters.
    • Not only are there not enough emergency shelters, the ones that exist are often filled to capacity. While there are also hostels and YMCAs available, these usually charge from around £15 a bed, so aren’t available to everyone.
    • The amount of shelters in existence has decreased in recent years, or have had to reduce in size due to lack of resources, lack of volunteers and lack of funding. They need support and funding in order to carry on the fantastic work they already do, and this should be coming from the government and councils.
    • There’s a need for shelters for specific needs; we have a rapidly increasing amount of women and young people becoming homeless, and these are groups that are likely to feel intimidated in mixed shelters; the thought that if you’re already on the street, and yet are still too scared to go to a shelter, shouldn’t be an issue and needs to be addressed by creating more shelters tailored to certain groups.
    • Shelters are only a means unto themselves; there is an urgent need for move-on accommodation, so that people, once they’re no longer in crisis, can be given the long-term stability (which is not found in an emergency shelter or hostel), to move on, find a job, and start to feel secure again.
  • Rent caps.
    • One of the biggest causes of homelessness is people getting forced out of their homes by ridiculous, unchecked rent increases from private landlords. One of the solutions to this is to put a cap on rents, to ensure enough of the houses that are out there are at an affordable price for low to middle income earners.
    • We also need caps on rent once people start renting so we don’t have families moving into a house before getting pushed out again soon after because the rent on their own home has suddenly been pushed up to a level they can’t afford.
    • As well as rent caps, people need to be given secure, longer contracts, so that they have the time to settle in a house and start to build a home. It’s no use having a contract for a year when you know that at the end of the year you’re likely to have to pack up and move again as the house is given to someone who can afford a higher rent. Having a contract of 3-5 years gives someone the security they need to settle down and makes it easier to sustain jobs and families.

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What needs to be done in future?

  • Benefit reforms.
    • In recent years, there have been catastrophic changes to the benefits system. Reforms such as Universal Credit have fucked up the system for so many people and when you’re in an insecure situation, potentially without easy access to a computer, or with serious mental health issues, the system can be so difficult to get around that people end up giving up on even trying to access essential benefits.
    • Another recent reform to benefits that is sure to lead to increased homelessness is the abolition of housing benefits to under 21s. Thanks to cuts in education and less support for young people-focused homeless services, 16-25s are the fastest growing homeless population, and the abolition of housing benefit to people of this age has been condemned by all major UK homeless charities as almost certain to lead to an even higher increase of homeless young people.
    • These reforms need to be reversed. Young people from the age of 16 need access to housing benefit and the entire system needs to be overhauled and developed into one that doesn’t punish people or impose sanctions, but serves to provide easy access to benefits for those that need it most.
    • Ensure people without employable skills or experience, have easy, immediate access to programmes where they can gain these skills and experience. This includes ex-convicts, immigrants and people from less-educated backgrounds.
  • Awareness of causes of homelessness.
    • Services for mental health, domestic abuse and addiction need to become a new priority in looking at how to prevent homelessness in future. While these are just some of the key causes of homelessness (and there are so many), they are an example of causes that are often overlooked in the discussion around homelessness. As a result, they don’t receive the funding or attention they need.
    • More attention needs to be given to the root causes of homelessness, not just the symptoms. The government needs to more actively fund, promote and support services for mental health, domestic abuse and addiction.

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  • Better education.
    • The importance of education should never be underestimated. Good free schools provide better education and more opportunities, which means reducing future homelessness. As previously mentioned, more and more 16-25s are becoming homeless, by leaving education, whether that’s school, college or uni, and being totally unprepared for the world. Couple this with the lack of opportunities now given to young people (e.g. cuts to housing benefit), and future generations are now more at risk of homelessness than ever before.
    • State education must be properly funded, all kids given the opportunity to good education and all schools – especially those in more deprived areas – must have the resources they need (equipment, staff, space and food). This support will come in part from local councils but crucially, it needs to come from government in ensuring that every school has enough funding to spend on the resources they need.
    • We also need to look at what is taught in schools. This is only now starting to be recognised, but students ought to be given a basic level of knowledge about homelessness, so that they can recognise the warning signs and be able to tell if they, or one of their friends or family, is at risk of becoming homeless. This would include teaching on relationships, mental health, addiction, and being given a basic knowledge of the support services that are available. If young people are taught about the warning signs of homelessness at an early age, they are far less likely to fall into the trap themselves.
  • More funding for health services.
    • This may seem like an obvious one, but unfortunately, it is too often taken for granted. Health services need to be able to work effectively, to have the funding and resources they need, and to be able to actually help people.
    • Specifically with regards to homelessness, more funding needs to be allocated to addiction rehabilitation and mental health services. As issues that can lead directly to homelessness, tackling them efficiently at an early stage, by having a well-funded public health service, is crucial.

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Now, take a close look at each party’s manifesto (links to each are below), and see who’s really working to end homelessness, and who actually knows what to do. And then, after the election, make sure that the government (whoever that is) is actually carrying out these measures, and pushing to end homelessness as it is now, and preventing it for future generations. Make sure to lobby the government, to write to your local MP, to the Prime Minister, to your local council. Campaign for more housing, for rent control and for benefit reforms. Push the government to do what they need to do.

Labour Manifesto: http://www.labour.org.uk/manifesto2017

Conservative Manifesto: https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto

Lib Dem Manifesto: http://www.libdems.org.uk/manifesto

Green Party Manifesto: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/

UKIP Manifesto: http://www.ukip.org/manifesto2017

 

Vote for the policies, not the person. We have an opportunity to reduce homelessness, and now. Don’t waste it.

The Hardest Fight

We were very lucky to recently be commissioned by Exeter Phoenix and Rife magazine to create a film-based campaign, entitled The Hardest Fight. The Hardest Fight will look at mental health issues in sport, primarily boxing, and will look closely at how boxing can actually help you to deal with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Working with several boxing gyms, first we’ll be releasing a short documentary focusing on Empire Fighting Chance, based in Bristol. The club runs numerous programmes for young people and adults suffering from mental health issues.

Below is a short documentary created by England Boxing where users of the club discuss the benefits they’ve experienced from boxing.

Many figures, from sport and elsewhere, have discussed the benefits of boxing in fighting depression and mental health issues. Boxers including Ricky Hatton and Frank Bruno have spoken openly about their mental health issues and how they’ve worked through them, and even Prince Harry recently spoke about how boxing helped him to deal with grief and depression.

‘The Hardest Fight of My Life’, commissioned by Exeter Phoenix, will be a 3 minute short film about a young boxer struggling with depression in the lead up to his first fight, and will use audio from interviews to describe the thoughts that go through your head when experiencing depression.

If you have experience with either boxing or perhaps have struggled with mental health issues in the past, you can visit Mind to ask about what services are available. If you’re interested in being involved in the campaign, please email info@pastlesproductions.com.