Tuesday, 21 April 2020

#Lockdown stuff - The best short films by The Barnet Eye about our locality

If you are like me, in lockdown, in Furlough and getting a bit bored, it is always good to find "stuff to do" that is free and (hopefully) interesting. In normal life, often we skim through things, start to watch youtube clips, get distracted and move on. Now we have time, why not go back to those things? If like me, you've suddenly found all of the films you want to watch are behind paywalls, finding stuff that is free is great and if it's about your locality, what could be better?

The Barnet Eye has made many short films about our neighbourhood. Some on our own and some in association with other people. I've spent the last couple of days watching some of these again. Many of the items are very 'of their time' ( I can't imagine too many people viewing videos of councillors who the voters kicked out years ago, being too exciting), but some are well worth a revisit.

When I started making films for the blog, I made a conscious effort to make things in a very grassroots, localised manner. I had hoped that this would inspire other local film makers to also put footage out there. I had two criteria, the footage had to be interesting and/or relevant to what was going on. It put stuff on the public record. I think all of these films are both interesting and relevant. They are listed chronologically, oldest first. In their own way this tells a story, it chronicles our community and it shows how we've changed as a community over the years. 

Here's my pick for you, with a few words why I've chosen them.

1. I'll start with one of my favourites and one of the saddest. A short film I made on the day Church Farmhouse museum in Hendon closed. The interview with Gerrard Roots, the former curator is fascinating and heartbreaking.  The museum was a treasure and watching this now is quite hard. I've never really understood the logic the council deployed in closing such a gem. If we lose civic pride, what else is there. 

2. A Tale of Two Barnets.
Directed by Charles Honderick, produced by me. This film was an effort to show all of the things going on in Barnet in the year 2012. I think it does that successfully. It was perhaps a tad over ambitious and we learned a lot about the problems of filming people in noisy places who didn't really like talking to camera. We were editing this and adding to it until the night before the Premier at the Phoenix in Finchley and to some extent the sound quality suffered in places. I think it is fascinating to watch and to see how things have worked out. Sadly some of the people in this, such as Stan Davison and Susan Sullivan are no longer with us. It is nice to see them again. The intro is by Ken Loach.

3. Colindale Foodbank.
I made this to help Colindale Foodbank give our community a flavour of what the foodbank do. At this time, more than ever, their services are needed. I think this is a great little film. It is a film that does what it says on the tin rather well.

4. The Barnet Freedom Pass Scandal.
Back in 2016, the local council illegally cancelled Freedom passes for people with special needs. The first many of the users knew, was when they turned up to get the bus or tube and were refused access. This blog broke the story, when Amo, a friend of mine had the experience of turning up at Finchley Central tube station to use his pass and couldn't. Amo contacted me, I wrote a blog and a campaign started. In 2018, I thought it was important to remind people of the story. Amo kindly agreed to tell his story. I rather hope that I don't have to make another film like this.

5. They Cleared Out Your Desk.
My band wrote and recorded a song about outsourcing, as an anthem for the #KickOutCapita campaign against public sector outsourcing in Barnet. We made a video to emphasise the point. It is probably my favourite video by The False Dots. Have a watch, I think it's a great tune and an excellent video. We used footage of the destruction of the National Instittue for Medical Research as a metaphor for what is happening to UK industry. It is interesting to think that this building would be at the forefront of the Covid response, if it hadn't been knocked down. One or two pedants pointed out that the NIMR was relocated to the Crick Institute in St Pancras. The point is that a world class institution was demolished and will now be flats. Barnet has been systematically stripped of its jobs, culture and history. This is a theme I am keen to return to. I thought I'd only include one music video in the list, it had to be this one

6. This is one of several collaborations with industrial historian Mark Amies, who has made a name for himself with his slot on BBC Radio London on the Robert Elms show. This one featured a trip around the train depot at Cricklewood. I believe this will be a film that gains a lot of interest in years to come, as much of this will disappear when the new Brent Cross Station is built. This was the first documentary film I actually enjoyed making.

7. How the Town Team is building a better Cricklewood.
This film is a nice little effort, documenting how the Cricklewood town team are doing great things for their locality. Such people seldom get the accolades they deserve. I rather hope that anyone else wanting to put a Nieghbourhood Forum together might find this useful as it shows what you can do, if you have the right people on board.

8. The Airco Story in Colindale.
Another collaboration with Mark Amies, detailing the history of aviation production in Colindale. I think this is a great film, well worth watching if you have an interest in local history. I enjoy working with Mark. He is well informed and intelligent, so it is easy to put things together which are interesting and informative.

9. The Fall of Edgware.
This is another collaboration with Mark Amies, detailing the way Edgware has sunk from being a go to High Street to being run down, shabby with a rubbish dump visible from space. Heartbreaking for locals. We spoke at length about how we would get the message across. The footage really speaks for itself, but Mark managed to add a narrative that really brought home what we were trying to say. It worked, this is our most viewed documentary film on Youtube.

10. Aviation mural unveiled at Cricklewood.
If you have local councillors who care about your local history and wish to commemorate it, so that we can be inspired to greater things, you get a very different outcome to what has happened in Edgware. That is why Cricklewood has become nicer as Edgware has rotted. This mural is an example of what you can do it you have the will. I've always tried to show the good things in our community as well as the bad.

And finally, I finish with something that I did this week. A reading from my forthcoming autobiography. Unlike the rest of these, this was very much off the cuff, but I thought you might appreciate a little insight into the bloke who puts this blog together. This is the story of our first recording.

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