Created as part of a storytelling project with Hamlett Films, Devonshire West resident Clare Hackney-Ring tells us about the inspiration behind her film of a simple soup kitchen that turned into a lifeline for the community during lockdown.
I’ve done bits of filmmaking in the past and have made a few short films using iMovies on the Mac, my husband mainly doing the editing for me. I’m not a particularly techy person but I’ve always had an interest in film so when I heard about the mentoring opportunity with Hamlett Films, I jumped at the chance.
An idea is born
I signed up to the project in Autumn 2019 and at that time I had no clue about what sort of film I might make. My initial thought was to base it around a project I was working on with Community Stuff at the time called Friday Lunch Club, funded by Devonshire West Big Local.
The project involved a small team of us providing a hot two-course dinner for local residents – many of them from a nearby residential home – in the community hub.
February 2020 was a time of big change for me: I was elected Chair of Devonshire West Big Local as lockdown was announced. I contemplated changing the film to cover Devonshire West’s pandemic response but felt totally overwhelmed by where to start.
We were very proud of our project and it felt like an ideal subject matter for the film.”
When lockdown was announced, most of the clients from Friday Lunch Club were told to shield, and so we decided to deliver homemade soup to their homes and a weekly activity pack to stop them feeling so isolated.
There was a huge surge of people on furlough wanting to do something positive so we had lots of local people offer to help with the soup delivery project – some of them made the soup in the community hub, and others delivered it to the homes.
We were very proud of our soup project and the volunteering seemed to really bring back a feeling of community spirit that had been lost so it felt like the ideal subject matter for my film.
Filming gets underway
Luckily, Community Stuff already had a brilliant camera that we had bought with funding to use on our many projects, so I was keen to use it. Making the film was a steep learning curve and watching it back now there are bits I’d love to be able to re-do!
It highlights all the brilliant volunteering that emerged so early on and it captures the very unusual time we were having.”
I decided to film on days when I knew lots of people would be in the hub and on special occasions, like VE day, when I knew the volunteers would pull out all the stops.
I was keen to include interviews with the volunteers as I wanted to involve the voices of those who were central to the project. I also wanted to interview some of the residents on their doorsteps, but unfortunately this wasn’t possible as the Eastbourne wind made it too difficult to record the sound!
I also included my poetry as I felt it helped to set the scene of the pandemic, which had been very frightening for me at the beginning.
Tying all the threads together
Elin from Hamlett Films gave me fantastic mentoring throughout and gave feedback on each stage of the editing process. At first, I felt slightly overwhelmed by all the footage I had gathered but Elin helped me visualise my overall idea.
For the music, Hamlett Films sent me a link to a selection of free tracks and I spent a full day trying to pin one down that I liked – in the end, I knew instantly when I had found the right one.
All-in-all, the project took about six months from the original idea to the finished piece. I could have gone on editing endlessly had it not been for the deadline!
The short version of the film is useful to share in meetings where I can demonstrate how we use some of our funding and I’m hoping to show the longer version at the first Friday Lunch Club when lockdown is eased. Excitingly, the education department of the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne have said they’d like to promote the film and I’ve got other ideas about how it can be shown around the town – watch this space..!