From the summer of 2018 to the spring of 2019, Chocolate Films ran two 1000 Londoners Movie Nights seasons, ‘Windrush Generations’ and ‘Goodbye Europe’, as well as a number of one-off screenings. The thematically curated programmes creatively combined archive film content with contemporary short documentary film captured by Chocolate Films to tell new stories about the people and places of London.
1000 Londoners is a project from film production company and Social Enterprise Chocolate Films. The project offers an insight into the lives of 1,000 people through 1,000 individual short documentary films - capturing the stories of those who consider themselves to be Londoners, taking in all ages, religions, race, income, interests and opinions. 1000 Londoners aims to paint a colourful, detailed and all-encompassing portrait of a city in a way that has never been done before.
Community cohesion and understanding are at the heart of the project. The filmmakers from Chocolate Films both produce the films and provide opportunities to young people and community groups to make their own short documentaries, which contribute to the 1,000 Londoners series.
The innovative 1,000 Londoners Movie Nights screenings select films from the 1,000 Londoners project, while interweaving into the programme archive material that thematically links to the contemporary short documentaries - offering a unique digital portrait of London, as diverse as the city itself. As well as one-off screenings, Chocolate Films ran two 1,000 Londoners Movie Nights seasons, ‘Windrush Generations’ and ‘Goodbye Europe’. The 1,000 Londoners Movie Nights have screened across London in vibrant cinemas and venues, and as been part of international Film Festivals.
To create an enriching and inspiring collection of screening programmes, which would bring together as many people as possible around documentary
To increase community cohesion and to promote a wider discussion and greater understanding between members of London’s diverse communities
To generate interest and discussion between a range of different people of different cultural backgrounds, socio-economic groups, ethnicities and ages through Q&A sessions with participants and filmmakers after each screening
The events reached an audience larger than ever in the history of the 1000 Londoners Movie Nights. 'Windrush Generation' particularly attracted older Caribbean audiences and 'Goodbye Europe' was popular with a younger, more ethnically and culturally diverse audience.
They reached new, diverse audiences who hadn’t heard of the project before and who said that watching the films had inspired them to find out more; 80% of the audience were new to the 1,000 Londoners Project and 98% said that they would attend an event like this again.
The screened content opened up the discussion about hot topics in society whilst steering clear of polarisation. The Q&A sessions after each screening encouraged audience members to stay and talk about the films they’ve watched, particularly in relation to themselves and their own experiences.
The events brought the short documentary format as well as unseen film archive footage to large audiences; 42% of the audience surveyed said they’d been introduced to new types of films and 43% said it had increased their awareness of film heritage.
Circa 25 contemporary short documentaries produced by Chocolate Films (including portraits of Jocelyn, Alex, Breyanna, Roland, Arthur and Lina), complemented by relevant clips of non-commercial archive material.
Exhibition partners included City Hall, Deptford Cinema, South London Shorts film festival, Peckham Festival, National Portrait Gallery, Museum of London, Picturehouse, Curzon, The Collective, Barbican, Kenton Evangelical Church. There were several project specific collaborative partnerships including those with the British Library, Caribbean Social Forum and the EFG London Jazz Festival.
Budget in brief
Overalll budget: £73,912.58; Film Hub London support: £3,000 (subsidy of £3.75 per head)
The exhibition element of the project helped Chocolate films learn how to craft a strong narrative within a collection of short films, incorporating well-edited, thought-through use of archive footage and the use of on-screen text where relevant
Working with strong venues and partnering with other events worked well and opened up opportunities to reach out to new audiences and to build important connections with venues around London
Holding Q&A sessions after each screening sparked interesting and in-depth discussions between a range of different people of different cultural backgrounds, socio-economic groups, ethnicities and ages
Choosing a topic that’s topical – creating content that’s related to current affairs topics resonated with audiences
Utilising social media channels for marketing proved effective
What has been difficult
Turning social media engagement into ticket sales was challenging
Realising the need to ever improve the experience for audiences and upskilling the team on event management i.e. the need for accessibility at venues, effective work plans, site visits etc
Marketing across London is a challenge finding ways to break through the noise and to upsell events as unmissable and a message worth listening to
What you would do differently if you did it again
There would be more collaboration with more venues
Ensuring there is enough time to clear materials with the archives
To improve data capture post screening, they are looking at developing digital surveying facilities
Awareness / Attitudes
The key takeaway from audience feedback has consistently been that they’ve found the screenings eye-opening and inspiring as the films deliberately invite people to examine and celebrate their differences and similarities.
The screening events have also engaged audiences with watching short documentary – introducing them to new content and other genres of film, making it as accessible and relevant for all.
Both the ‘Windrush Generation’ and ‘Goodbye to Europe’ Movie nights attracted different and diverse audiences through the nature of the content and exploration of the topic.
‘Windrush Generation’ particularly attracted older Caribbean audiences and ‘Goodbye Europe’ was popular with a younger, more ethnically and culturally diverse audience.
In curating and creating the content Chocolate Films always aims to ensure the representation on screen is as diverse as possible.
Knowledge & Experience
● 42% of the audience surveyed said they’d been introduced to new types of films
● 68% said they were encouraged to attend similar events
● 43% said it had increased their awareness of film heritage
● 27% said they had been taught something new about film
● 80% felt they had had a worthwhile cultural experience
● 52% said the event had increased their appetite for British and Independent film
● 80% of the audience were new to the 1000 Londoners Project
● 98% said that they would attend an event like this again
The Q&A sessions after each screening encouraged audience members to stay and talk about the films they’ve watched and particularly in relation to themselves and their own experiences. Watching stories about people they wouldn’t normally have contact with in their everyday lives had real impact and the Q&A sessions gave audience members the opportunity to ask the questions they wouldn’t normally have had the space or confidence to.
Both ‘Windrush Generation’ and ‘Goodbye to Europe’ Movie Nights were described by audience members as inspiring and eye-opening. Q&A sessions following Goodbye Europe gave the audience the chance to talk about Brexit and particularly their concerns around losing their European identity.
Comment boards in the foyer of the venues also gave people chance to express themselves if they hadn’t felt comfortable to in the Q&A sessions.
99% of the audience surveyed rated the venue and experience as either very good or good and 80% felt they had had a worthwhile cultural experience. Audience members also reported a feeling of connection with each other and the characters on screen post screening.
80% of the audience surveyed were new to the venue and 98% intend to visit again.
All the filmmakers at Chocolate Films are involved in the project and the work contributes to their portfolios for clients, which benefits Chocolate Films as an organisation and the 25 people working there.
In terms of social enterprise, Chocolate Films also work with vulnerable adults and one of the participants from a 2-year workshop with the Borough of Greenwich grew to be a photographer and filmmaker. She creates a film for each 1000 Londoners season, which they pay her for on a freelance basis.
Venue choices included the volunteer-led Deptford Cinema, inviting new audiences into its space. Raising its profile can only be beneficial to the organisation and really speaks to the community cohesion aim of the projects.
What audiences said
‘It was inspiring and uplifting especially as a Caribbean descendant. The Caribbean community is so fragmented in London at the moment and so it was great to see/hear their stories’
‘Fantastically run – will definitely be watching out for more’
'Inspiring, thought provoking and moving’
‘Fabulous insight into black lives and positivity amongst the varied community’
‘Very valuable contribution to deal with Brexit and all the current discussions!’
‘Good range of social backgrounds presented’
‘The films gave a really interesting insight into people life’s you wouldn’t necessarily meet’
What professionals, press and partners said
Fiona Smith, Adult Programmes Manager at the National Portrait Gallery: ‘Thank you so much – it was a great occasion. What a fantastic panel…Please do keep in touch with any possible future collaborations’
Holly Elson, visitor Events Manager at the Museum of London: ‘Thanks to you too- it was a great event, and we got lots of good engagement with the audience!’
Michael Garrad, Events Programmer at Curzon: ‘Sales are good! 114 sales plus your 24 comps is 139 admissions so far…Thanks for making this a success!’
‘Windrush Generations delves into the lives of Londoners with Caribbean heritage, from those who arrived in the city in the 40s and 50s to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren’ (South London News)
‘Get to know people living in London from each of the 28 EU nations, at this screening of short films documenting their lives in these uncertain times.’ (Time Out)
‘The takeaway message seems pretty straightforward: London needs Europe just as Europe needs London.’ (The Londonist on Goodbye Europe)
‘It’s a portrait of people!’ (Robert Elms on the Robert Elms show)