Monday 12 September 2016

A Tale of Two Barnets - Five Years On

I really can't believe it. Where does the time go? It is five years since we made the film 'A Tale of Two Barnets'. Prior to this, I'd only ever been involved with pop music videos.

The original premise was that on Charles Dickens 100th anniversary, we'd see if his premise that there are two Cities in one was still true. As Barnet was the inspiration for the workhouse in Oliver Twist, it seemed most appropriate.

For nearly six months, the project took over my life. We got hold of some great footage. The then newly appointed Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius agreed to appear, as did the then CEO Nick Walkley. The local chief of police also pitched in. 

The biggest problem we had was that many of the interviews had poor sound quality. We didn't have the sophisticated technology the BBC use for outdoor interviews. We had to choose whether to use the most interesting footage or the best quality. We went for the most interesting.

I watched the film again at the weekend. I think it is a remarkable snapshot of Barnet in 2012. It isn't perfect, but it was never meant to be. 

The highlight of the whole process for me was the premiere at The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. Over 500 people turned up. The biggest problem we had was that despite all of the time we had, the story constantly changed.

I was disappointed but not surprised at the sniping from certain quarters. The local Tory attack dog blog alleged that the film was 'funded by the Unions'. This was nonsense. It personally cost me over £10,000 to make. The local Trades Council paid to rent the Phoenix and UNISON pitched in with some help with a few expenses, but Charles Honderick, the director and myself were both hugely out of pocket. We simply did it because it needed to be made.

We also had a few local activists whinging that it wasn't political enough. This was certainly true. We didn't want a lecture, we wanted a watchable film that made people think. I believe we did that. The film stands the test of time rather well.

I am seriously considering making 'Five years on' to see what happened and where we are now. The only real question is whether Mrs T (my good lady) will sanction me wasting another ten grand! And six months of my life!

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