1000 Londoners in 2014: The beginning, the films and behind the scenes
On the 24th April this year, after years of planning, we at Chocolate Films were incredibly excited to share with you all our flagship project. The launch night at BAFTA was special for so many reasons. We had a packed audience in the BAFTA screening room who laughed, cheered and fully engaged with the first 10 Londoners films, we had a wonderful Q+A session with our oldest and youngest Londoners and we sparked friendships across the city. The sight of Martin and John, fists in the air, chatting away like best friends is something that will stay with us throughout the rest of this project!
With the release of Martha this week, our final Londoner of 2014 has been let free on the world. From that launch in April right through to now it’s been an incredible year for the project. As such we thought that, because everyone else on the planet appears to be doing it, we’d discuss some of our highlights of 2014. In all honesty though a top 10 is impossible as it feels like there have been too many highlights to even contemplate and everyone has had such a different experience with the project. That’s why instead of picking the project highlights, we asked the team here to chose their personal highlights to both celebrate the year and give you a bit of a behind the scenes look at the project…
“Filming Ken Livingstone and finding him to be so friendly and welcoming. It was a strange experience to film him unexpectedly doing the gardening and planting Strawberries.”
Being prepared for the unexpected is, frankly, all part of the job of a filmmaker. This was something that Mark had from the moment he started preparing Ken Livingstone’s film. Mark originally got in touch with London’s former mayor by waiting for him outside of the radio studio where he presents a show, hoping he would spot Ken as he left work. Mark explained the project and Ken seemed happy to take part. Cut forward 3 months and Mark finds himself standing in Ken Livingstone’s kitchen discussing everything from Tony Blair and the War to the best way to plant Strawberries.
Getting to meet and talk to people who you never normally have the chance to is the very core of the 1000 Londoner’s project and frankly it doesn’t come more unusual than gardening with the man who used to be in charge of London.
“Filming with Frank in Davenports Magic Shop. It was wonderful to be inside such a unique and unusual shop whilst simultaneously watching this young man live out his dreams. Seeing his face light up was very special.”
The process of telling someone’s story in 3 minutes is never an easy one. Where do you start? What do you leave in or take out? Where do you film to be represent the Londoner? It was this last question that led Rachel to take magic whizz kid Frank to Davenports Magic Shop and film him both performing and discussing his passion for magic.
It also gave us our first chance to show some of London’s spectacular hidden shops. There is a specialist shop for everything in this city and we’ve already found some absolute gems. From Griff working in an airsoft gun shop in Highgate to Dick’s specialist custom bike shop, this city has it all. Davenports Magic Shop was the first of these and there are plenty more that we look forward to exploring.
“Meeting Dionne Warwick. Getting to meet a music legend was incredibly special. Especially as I didn’t expect it! She just turned up during the filming and took me completely unawares.”
London might not be Hollywood but you can still run into some incredible legends when you least expect it. This happened to Daniel whilst filming X-Factor winner and new West End star Alexandra Burke as she began her run in The Bodyguard earlier in 2014. Backstage after the show Alexandra was shocked to find out that music legend (and we don’t use that word lightly) Dionne Warwick had been in the audience watching. Visablly shaking with excitement Alexandra got to meet one of her music idols, and our Daniel was there to capture it all!
“Having the first 10 films in the series playing before films in Leicester Square. Knowing that something I filmed was being played before X-Men or Spider-Man kind of blew my mind”.
Whilst all of the films are released online, we have been incredibly pleased to have received such a positive response from countless other media outlets as well. We’ve been featured on the BBC, in the Evening Standard, Time Out, South London Press, the Islam Channel, London Live and blogs across the globe. We’ve also held screenings in cinemas across the capital, including “Sophie” which played before screenings of the documentary Finding Vivian Meyer at the Brixton Ritzy.
Reece’s favourite moment(s) though were the screenings which occurred at the 2 Vue West End Cinemas in Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Vue kindly and enthusiastically agreed to show the first 10 films in the series before all major releases for 8 weeks during May and June 2014. This meant that 1000 Londoners films played to over 50,000 London cinema goers, in front of films like X-Men Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla and Edge of Tomorrow! Tom Cruise and cloth merchant Martin on the same screen. Not bad ey?
A truly special event and something we hope to do more of in the coming years.
“Going down the sewers!”
When planning 1000 Londoners films we try to get into places that many people may have never seen before. One of the early discussions we had was about trying to get high and low in London, seeing the city from every angle. Well, a glutton for punishment Reece decided to investigate whether it would be possible to film in the world famous sewers below the streets of London. As soon as Laura found out he needed help filming she leapt at the chance to visit London’s murky lower levels!
So, with the kind help of Thames Water we got kitted out and ventured down into the sewers with Londoner Danny. As you can see from the photo below, it really was a once in a lifetime filming experience! Who knows what strange places this project will lead us into in the future…
“Going up in the cherry picker to film Trevor. It really felt like it does in the film. And Scarier!”
So, following on from going low down with Danny, Nick has chosen a time from this year when he got to see Oxford Street and the Christmas lights in a way that very few people have. Nick had been planning this film for months with the Christmas lights on Oxford Street one of the main attractions in our festive capital city. Eventually, one night (and we mean night / early morning) in late November Nick was lucky enough to join Londoner Trevor as he set about putting up the lights which by now must have been instagrammed about 6 Gagllion times. A fascinating insight into planning Christmas.
“Going up in the Helicopter with Chris”
You thought Nick went high above Oxford St? Well, Ally and Rachel went just marginally higher… about 2000ft higher give or take. They joined pilot and Londoner Chris Mann for a trip up the Thames, viewing the city in a completely unique way. It was an amazing experience and the film truly feels different from anything else so far in the series. The film went on to be part of our Londoners on the Thames season with 4 films showing the people who work with Old Father Thames in a multitude of ways.
“Filming at Wimbledon and seeing behind the scenes of such a famous event was a highlight. It was really funny as the other members of the press kept saying that we were the only film crew there that wasn’t actually filming any tennis!”
London is home to some major events on the sporting calendar but few match up to the might of Wimbledon. Ross and Ally were luck enough to go behind the scenes at this year’s tournament to meet Jim, a racket stringer to the stars. The film is peppered with cameos, from Andy Murray to Bruce Forsyth, via Hugh Jackman and Venus Williams, it was certainly a star studded day!
“Filming Martha’s film and the carol service was very special. Being both a filmmaker there and feeling like part of the audience, having that music soundtrack the film was very moving.”
At the time of writing this film hasn’t yet been released (it’s going live on Christmas Day) but trust us, it’s a festive doozie! Pete went along with Daniel to film in St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London at their special Christmas Carol service. The Church is the oldest surviving church in England and the eagle eyed of you may recognise it from countless films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shakespeare in Love. Well, now another film can be added to that list.
We have always aimed to show special seasons in London as the city moves and changes throughout the year. Christmas is a huge time for any city and in London that is no different. Next year we are planning even more seasons and want to show how the city shapes and changes throughout them all. The Christmas in London Season is just one of these seasons, keep an eye out for more next year.
“Victoria being the first film to hit over 20,000 views was very special” It was so well received by everyone as well.”
Since launching in April 1000 Londoners films have racked up over 220,000 views on You Tube alone. For a community project aimed at getting people to see who lives around them, discover different view points and learn more about this great city that really is something special. Victoria has been our most popular Londoner so far but it has been constantly interesting to see how people react to all of the films. In the coming years we’ve got some very special Londoners still to come and we hope that the conversation continues with such pace and engagement as it has so far.
Thank you to all of you for engaging and being involved in the project so far. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got planned next year and carry on the conversation. This is a very special city and we look forward to showing you even more of it.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!