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Souls Migrated- Documentary Shoot Experience

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On Friday 22nd April, filming began on the Women in Neighbourhood’s (WiN) production of a short documentary called Souls Migrated. The film captures the thoughts and memories of people who migrated to the UK – specifically memories of their original homeland, which in some cases they were forced to leave in traumatic circumstances.

In an age where politics and political events are sometimes being interpreted by a minority as a licence to attack immigrants, verbally and physically, WiN aims to provide a reminder that the vast majority have become valuable members of our society, and that some came here as a consequence of war and horrific events for which most of us simply have no personal frame of reference.

A team from the TV film and video production company began filming in Queen’s Park in the morning. The Met Office had warned that we might be blessed with showers during the day (sounds like a standard Bolton forecast) but in the event we were pretty lucky with the weather.

First scenes shot, near the lake, were of a group of men of Gujarati origin, who all arrived in the UK in the 1960s and 70s. In an atmospheric scene they recalled their home country through poetry. Queen’s Park’s indigenous fauna seemed keen to get in on the act, with a multitude of pigeons gathered to observe with interest, but it was the resident ducks who were most vocal in their support (or protest), and the word ‘action’ from director Chris was taken as a cue to for the avian ‘extras’ to ham it up – very loudly. The scene was, though, eventually completed.

The next scene, also in Queen’s Park, involved a group of immigrants from a number of countries in Europe and Asia and from there we went to the Octagon Theatre, which has kindly offered to host the next scene, involving women of South Asian origin talking about their lives. A further scene with the same group of women was then shot near the archway in Le Mans Crescent.

Another outdoor scene followed, with Maria Oprea and a group of young girls of African origin from her ‘Smile of Hope’ dance group providing musical entertainment on the town hall steps for the people walking through Victoria Square. For the most part the shoppers were interested and helpful, but there were one or two who felt they were much too important to accede to a polite request to take a short detour and walk behind the camera instead of in front of it. There are always a few who seem determined to keep walking in a straight line, saving themselves a few seconds and not caring that they are costing maybe a dozen other people several minutes of their time – not to mention the expense of a re-shoot. Nice people.

Then we’re at BCOM where some ladies from the Middle East prepared a wonderful and varied feast and shared their memories of home over food and refreshing mint tea.

House of Rajas in Fletcher Street was the next location, with female staff from the award-winning Asian superstore donning ethnic clothing and a variety of jewellery for a colourful final shoot of the day.

All in all, a fascinating experience. I learned a lot about the techniques employed by directors and camera crews to capture the most effective and atmospheric shots, and I look forward to being involved in the rest of the work on this short documentary film, which will feature in the Bolton Film Festival later this year.

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