Hanna: Making a film about my friend
When we were asked to think about any Londoners we would like to interview for this project, Nick gave us the advice to first think about our best friends. I instantly thought about my friend Hanna.
Born and raised in London to Muslim parents who emigrated from Somalia, she considers herself to be a Londoner through and through. But right now she is preparing to leave London and her family to study an MSc at Oxford University. Given the great change she is facing, I felt that there was a complex story about her identity that could be captured in this short film.
Of course making a 3 minute film in the space of 5 days is no mean feat. Particularly for a group of individuals with relatively little experience who had just met. With the added pressure of making a film about my friend, the project became more important to me than simply an introduction to filmmaking.
But I soon became comfortable in the knowledge that I was part of a great team. Not only did my Black Dragon team mates get the vision I expressed, but they brought their own skills, opinions and experiences to the project. And even with the amount of toilet breaks, we had a brilliant subject to work with.
While we didn’t have the luxury of time to film Hanna in her neighbourhood of South London, this challenge became a blessing in disguise. Our creativity (and patience) was tested as we made sure that this became a film simply about who Hanna is, rather than where she’s from. From filming with a sun that was rather inconveniently camera shy, to embarking on a tense covert film operation on the London Underground- let’s just say a few laughs were needed along the way.
And when it came to putting it together, there was real dedication shown by the team as we got in early and worked hard to a tight deadline- with the help of M&M’s and Werther’s Originals. Thankfully no one was too sentimental about any particular shots because there certainly was a lot of chopping. Though, there was a slightly contentious point about a cutaway shot that featured a dog. While I can personally guarantee there were no animals hurt in the making of this film, the dog didn’t make it.
The 1000 Londoners project provides a brilliant way to reach out to different individuals and to find and tell stories, such as Hanna’s, that may otherwise not be told. Being the largest digital portrait of a city ever made, it’s a fantastic process to be a part of. Throughout which we were lucky to have the professional know-how, creativity and general good humour of Oli, our more than helpful filmmaker from Chocolate Films.
Being the result of true collaboration, what this film gives Hanna is the opportunity to express herself and her experiences in her own words. In doing so, many misconceptions that some people may hold have been challenged. I think I speak for all who watch it when I say that it’s good to know that she isn’t planning to change.
By Faiza Amin
The Black Dragons: Loga, Illyas, Sabeina and Leyton