In July 2016 a group of young residents living in Bedford’s Queen’s Park took to their local streets in a film-making project about the place where they live. Over a period of four weekends they worked with artists Julie Myers and Maria Anastassiou to explore their neighbourhood and create a magical and irreverent film about life on Chester and Carlisle Roads.
From revealing hidden spaces and favourite places for play, to collecting the neighbourhood’s sounds and memories from residents young and old, the film explores the two roads with the children as our guides. The scenes reflect thoughts and ideas the residents have about their home. The defunct telephone box becomes a silver birch tree, the concrete wall separating the estate from the recreation ground becomes a magic gate into the park, speeding cars vanish and gardens become places for adventure.
All the local residents from the two roads road were invited to stop by, join the group activities and chat about what it’s like to live in their part of Bedford, but it was the children who jumped at the chance to make recordings, photos and films about what they liked and what they’d like to see change.
“We were interested in working with local residents to produce a more intimate reflection of their thoughts and ideas. The children have their own view about the place they live; they see the environment very differently to adults. The children took their storytelling and turned it into filmmaking, creating sound, images and some clever special effects.” Julie Myers, artist
Working from the artists’ circus style black and white cinema tent, the children used microphones, a 16mm film camera and a digital camera to interview their neighbours, collect stories, record snippets of songs they sang and noises they could hear around them and finally record clips of each other performing. As the project developed young and old took part, sharing their thoughts and ideas about their local community.
The tent became a space for gathering and showcasing the films and soundscapes created each weekend. For two weekends it became a photographic portrait studio too, where families from the two roads came to sit for family portraits, as a memento of their participation in the project.
“The success was so much about the enthusiasm with which the children embraced the film workshops and their willingness to look at their environment in a new way.” Maria Anastassiou, artist
The two films created were showcased to friends and family at the end of the project where the children got to show off their work and everyone brought food for a picnic afterwards. Queen’s Park Councillors Mohammad Yasin and Mohammed Masud attended the event. The project proved very popular and it’s hoped further projects will take place in the future.
“Please do it again soon! My little boy loved taking part.”
” It was great experience to watch this beautiful film with the kids and families, so many people turned up to watch the film, kids were so active and took full part in this film making project, It was wonderful experience and I am so glad that we funded this project from our Councillors ward funds. We have beautiful diverse community in Queens Park. People are living here together with love and harmony. We are proud of our diversity. In this film you can see so many kinds from different background and cultures and playing and enjoying their life together and this is the beauty of Queens Park and Bedford.” Cllr Mohammad Yasin, Queens Park Ward, Bedford Borough Council
“bpha has many residents living in the Queens Park area and we wanted to try something different to help this community express how they feel and see their neighbourhood. We were really pleased to see so many residents get involved, especially our younger residents.” Kim Burrows Community Officer, bpha
“I think this was fun because these things don’t happen around this area and you can learn different things here.”
Produced by Bedford Creative Arts