Behind the scenes of The Forgotten People
The Forgotten People is a newly commissioned poem and film written and performed by artist and poet Lady Unchained. The Forgotten People highlights racial inequality in the UK prison system –it was written at the Rotterdam Summer Lab in 2019 and developed during the Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020. In this short reflection, Artsadmin’s Engagement Producer Siobhán McGrath gives an insight into the making of the film.
In 2020, Lady Unchained and I were due to visit a number of prisons to deliver projects and workshops, and then the pandemic took all of that away. The people inside those walls were never far from our minds. If we can’t be together, we wondered, what can we do? How can we connect? Questions we are all asking ourselves during this time.
Lady Unchained is a poet and I am a producer. Working together for the past three years, we are used to planning and plotting for the live realm – events, performances, workshops – holding spaces where people can share, connect and even heal. With those not possible, we started talking about making a film that could be shared far and wide, pandemic or no pandemic…
Here’s a few behind the scenes insights:
Filming takes time
Maybe an obvious one. We filmed everything in one day, which was tight, but that’s a twelve hour day for a three minute film!
Cinematographers are super committed wizards
We were very lucky to work with Tracy Kiryango, who filmed on her knees in the mud for 3 hours in the rain – anything to get the shot. In the final edit the rain is not noticeable. Magic!
Following the point above: Wear weather-appropriate clothes. It was a cold, wet October day and I forgot my gloves, brrrrr.
Also, bring snacks.
Something will go wrong
Like me forgetting to let the building team at Toynbee Studios know that we were using a smoke machine which then set off the fire alarm and resulted in a whole building evacuation– work fail!
Sometimes it just goes right
We had back up balloons in case we needed to do multiple takes for this scene but Brenda and Tracy nailed it in one!
Bring your muscles
Filming requires equipment and equipment is heavy.
Be prepared for questions when filming in public
We filmed (legally!) outside prison sites but had to be prepared for questions from security staff.
Use what you’ve got
My favourite orange beanie hat has an unexpected starring role in the film. Lady Unchained felt the shot just needed that extra something.
Lady Unchained kept it in the family
The other performers in the film are in fact Lady Unchained’s sister and nephew.
Behind the scenes snaps of the process:
The Forgotten People is commissioned by Artsadmin, with support from BE PART through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.