A CREATIVE PROJECT FOR NEW FILMMAKERS FROM PORTSMOUTH’S DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES
We recently interviewed one of the organisers behind the fantastic ‘I Am Only Human After All’ community film project (you can find out all about the project and read the interview HERE), but we felt it was really important to hear from the first time filmmakers too.
Over the last six months or so Portsmouth Film Society have been running ‘I Am Only Human After All’ with the course giving a dozen vulnerable locals the opportunity to tell their story and reflect on their experiences in Portsmouth.
We’ve interviewed a number of the first time filmmakers to find out more about their films, their new skills and their experiences:
We’ve interviewed a number of the first time filmmakers to find out more about their films, their new skills and their experiences…
I liked the concept of empowering diverse groups of people by giving them the opportunity to tell their stories and raise awareness of issues…
What initially caught your interest about the project and filmmaking?
Maricar: I have very little knowledge about the film making process and yet feel it is a useful tool to bring out stories and when I saw this course being run with people with no skills at all I really wanted to take part.
Anna: (For me, it was) the diversity of people participating in the project.
Rowshonara: I was asked by Cecelia to join, for me it was meeting people from different nationality.
Caroline: I wanted to do something creative and to have an interest outside of work.
Brijjetly: My passion and my vast experience in film making and theatre caught my interest for the said course.
Connor: I have always been interested in operating a camera and making films from when I was young. What caught my eye about the project was a Facebook ad. They required actors and I emailed them about helping out as a crew member.
Jane: I liked the concept of empowering diverse groups of people by giving them the opportunity to tell their stories and raise awareness of issues that are important to them. The course gives people the opportunity to see the human being behind the label. It’s easy just to see some groups of people as problems – homeless, addict, other. We all have stories to tell and making film is an ideal way to present these narratives and promote understanding.
What was your favourite activity/role during the project and why?
Maricar: I was very impressed by the unstinting support we received from the filmmaking community. When we visited Pinewood Studios they couldn’t be any more welcoming and helpful to take us through all the various equipment and stages of the film making process. That trip was inspirational and the talks by various professionals in the field that follow help to build our knowledge step-by-step.
I’ve always thought I would be a good director, but that was a hard role. I found my niche as the Camera Assistant!
Anna: My official role in this project was assisting Ayşegul in the class, but of course when it came to filming I ended up dragged completely into the filmmaking process. In film I found my favourite role as Art Director, because I like to pay attention to detail; I enjoyed acting as well, it is fun to be able to be somebody else for a day.
Rowshonara: I had little input as I joined the project at a later date, however working on Camera role and understanding how it works.
Caroline: The team work during film making. Everyone really bonded.
Brijjetly: Only to observe others about their roles in the different field of film making.
Connor: I have lots of favourite roles in the project. I enjoyed being the DoP (Director of Photography), Sound, Acting, and Lighting. I like being on the move and doing multiple things that allow me to be more productive within filmmaking.
Jane: I enjoyed doing the sound and shooting the films, I also liked troubleshooting and problem solving!
…I enjoyed acting as well, it is fun to be able to be somebody else for a day…
…addiction is a massive problem in Portsmouth and I wanted to show that alcoholism can affect anyone but that recovery is also possible…
What was your film about and why did you choose the subject matter?
Maricar: My film was about depression and I wanted to show how devastating it can be and yet how little we could see any of the cause or even the condition.
Anna: I participated as an actress at the last moment in 2 of the films, and although the stories weren’t created by me I enjoyed getting into roles and living the characters.
Caroline: Our film was about an alcoholic, because it’s interesting to explore the lives of other people.
Connor: I wasn’t the director of any films, but I was starring in the short film ‘Perception’ starring as Frank. Which is about a homeless man trying to get back into the world of work.
Jane: Our film was about a group of people who have issues with alcohol. We chose this subject because addiction is a massive problem in Portsmouth and I wanted to show that alcoholism can affect anyone but that recovery is also possible.
What skills have you learnt through this project?
Maricar: Humility about the film making process is one! It has been great to build my confidence on handling equipment like a video camera. Being part of any film making crew was also important for building interpersonal skills. In my line of work it is also very important to understand the scale of projects like this and how to brief video makers for future projects.
Anna: I think I have definitely stepped forward in acting (as this being my first acting experience) as well as film organisational skills.
Rowshonara: Respecting film making and the effort behind it!
Caroline: Working as a team and about film production.
Brijjetly: Nothing being ignored.
Connor: I learnt many new skills when joining this project! My communication, reliability, professional attitude, and problem solving was all strengthened by this project and helped me grow.
Jane: I have acquired an overall understanding of the complexities of producing a film. I can operate a camera and take responsibility for the sound. Writing a screenplay, sorting out locations, being able to swap roles and work as a team was all worthwhile experience regardless of whether I wanted to work in film in the future. All the skills I learned could all be transferred to other contexts.
Respecting film making and the effort behind it!
I can see a lot how this project has evoked many hidden talents around and that makes me very pleased and inspired…
How do you feel this project has helped your fellow filmmakers?
Maricar: I think the project has given people a lot of confidence and in many ways I think we impress ourselves by what we have managed to learn and put into practice. There is a lot to learn and we have made huge progress in 20 weeks. There’s a lot of teamwork needed in the process of film making apart from the technical proficiency.
Anna: I can see a lot how this project has evoked many hidden talents around and that makes me very pleased and inspired.
Caroline: Some people have discovered they have real talent for it.
Connor: I feel that my fellow filmmakers had the opportunity to have better confidence in themselves and to work to meet deadlines and schedules.
Jane: The project works on many levels. It helps individuals and communities to communicate with each other. It helps people who may have had negative experiences of education to acquire a range of skills from basic timekeeping, flexibility, team working etc, to operating digital technology, storyboarding, screen writing and problem solving.
Would you recommend filmmaking to others?
Maricar: Absolutely and also great to learn team-building as working on a film set certainly forces you to be part of a team.
Anna: I would definitely recommend to try it as it involves a huge variety of very different tasks and you learn a lot about filmmaking and everything it involves.
Caroline: Yes. For confidence and developing skills and interests.
Connor: If you are into practical work and want to grow you understanding in filmmaking, then this is the project for you!
Jane: I would definitely recommend this course particularly for engaging “hard to reach” people. It provides a platform for “training by stealth” which also raises self esteem, fosters tolerance and understanding and helps people move on and discover their talents and abilities.
Will you continue to make films in the future?
Maricar: I certainly feel I would like to explore film making further.
Anna: I will for sure, weather as an actress or a director; me, as well as many other participants, have discovered their passion and role in filmmaking very organically, some as script writers, some as sound operators or art directors. I am very pleased to see how people are continuing with this and filmmaking with more confidence; I have already been offered a role in another local film project from my fellow student of I Am Only Human course.
Brijjetly: I would love to get a chance to direct the film in the Future if possible.
Connor: Absolutely YES! I enjoyed every aspect of filmmaking and enjoy working with other people to get a task done.
Jane: Yes, I am already planning the next film.
It provides a platform for “training by stealth” which also raises self esteem, fosters tolerance and understanding and helps people move on and discover their talents and abilities…
The red-carpet premiere for ‘I Am Only Human After All’ will be held at the New Theatre Royal on 30th of May and is open to the public (view the Facebook event HERE). Tickets cost just £7 and are free for under 16s. A vote will be held on the evening to decide the audience’s favourite film and a raffle will also be run, with prizes to be won. Donations will go towards Portsmouth Film Society’s future development of their filmmaking course. The short films will also be entered into various competitions and will be screened at other local events in 2018.
To book tickets please visit The New Theatre Royal’s website at
Written by: Paul Gonella
Photography by: Portsmouth Film Society and Paul Gonella