In Spring 2020 Eastside Film Crew (a programme to develop young filmmakers aged 18-25) worked with Clean Break theatre company to document Inside This Box, a play staged at the Arcola and Omnibus theatres in London. You can see a clip of show below.
Since 1979, Clean Break has been the only women’s theatre company of its kind, and they continue to inspire playwrights and captivate audiences with ground-breaking plays on the complex theme of women and crime.
Inside this Box is a new short play written by Yasmin Joseph, directed by Stef O’Driscoll and performed by members of Clean Break’s Young Artists Development Programme. The play is about young women, the criminal justice system and trying to imagine another way. The all female cast aged 17-30 used workshops to develop the content of the show including themes of homelessness, isolation and youth loneliness.
Eastside Film Crew (EFC) is an initiative which aims to create professional film and editing opportunities for young people aged 18-25 years old. The crew of up to 10 young people, have the chance to work on professional briefs, trying different roles from camera operators to editors, learning valuable skills and a portfolio of work on the way over the course of a year
EFC trainees got the chance to film and edit this live theatre show for the first time, supported by self shooting producer/director Libby Knowles, filmmaker/archivist Onyeka Igwe and Eastside’s Film and Digital Programme Manager Nandita Lovage.
Clean Break’s women-only identity is crucial to their work – Eastside were able to support this sentiment – which aligns with Eastside’s own female empowering strands of work – by having an all-female crew of our own. Young women from both organisations had the chance to meet and speak with each other, connecting on the themes involved and why they both wanted to get this work seen by a bigger audience.
For reasons of copyright and performers rights we cannot embed the full performance video here, but as well as the excerpt above, you can see two other clips here:
Read about the Clean Break project and Sade Brigg’s experience below. One of Clean Break’s amazing performers Chloë Florence, has also written a blog check this out here.
During lockdown in May 2020, Maisie Post, Eastside’s Communications and Digital Co-ordinator interviewed Sade Briggs, an Eastside Film Crew member, and budding editor.
Tell us about your connection to Eastside?
I’m part of the Eastside Film Crew, which is an opportunity to work on different projects and allows you to get freelance work across all filmmaking roles such as sound, editing, camera work and lighting. Sometimes on projects, you have the chance to try out more than one role, such as the Clean Break project for me.
Tell us about the Clean Break project.
The project involved filming a theatre performance by Clean Break at the Arcola Theatre. The show itself was a very intimate, short 30-minute play called Inside This Box, the cast was a group of young women who have been involved with or affected by the criminal justice system in some way. The actors themselves only had two weeks to learn their lines, which was very impressive. I got to watch the play the day before with Nandita from Eastside and Libby one of our Film Crew mentors. It was really exciting to film a live project, I haven’t filmed a theatre piece before. We arrived early the next day, set up 4 cameras, I was given the closeup shot, so I set that up. As it was a live performance, we had to be aware to work as a team, not all angles of each of our cameras captured the scene. As we were working from a small space we had to really plan where each of the cameras would sit in the audience to best capture all the actors during the performance.
What did you think of the story told in Inside this box?
It was such a powerful performance and a great experience.
The play is about a young woman who has been asked to take a mysterious box to a secret location. She’s been trusted to do it, a real responsibility that will bring in real money for her and her sister. But she doesn’t know who she’s meeting, and when her phone battery starts running low every step is filling her with more doubt.
I am editing it as we speak, and as it is only 30 minutes, it is perfect for people to watch online as audiences can’t visit theatres at the moment. The play itself is intense, a quick-moving plot, which made it difficult to capture all the movement of the actors, they each play multiple roles too – it really was a great experience to watch, let alone film.
What role did you take in the project?
I was part of the film crew and I am editing the piece during quarantine at home – I enjoy these roles equally but I am more of an editor. I was a bit nervous about filming as I have never worked with that kind of close up lens before and it was live, so no room for mistakes! But as an editor, it was really helpful for me to have been part of filming it as it made the whole process smoother and easier, I got to see the whole picture. We had to rely on teamwork to get different angles, as when you are on a fixed spot you feel like you constantly need to be doing something or moving but when its a multi-camera set up, that’s where the movement is and it was my job as the editor to make that interesting and cut it all together. I am used to editing short films and music performances, so with this very unique project. I had to be aware of getting the balance right of each shot, each position of the actors, capturing their emotions and the overall pace of the play.
I have been having video calls with Nandita and Onyenke, another of our mentors for feedback and they have been helping with any questions or worries I had. For example, one was colour matching – as each camera had a different colour tone – needed to make it fluid. Just working on the last scene right now, then it’ll be a matter of going into detail of the play as a whole.
Did you feel a difference working with an all-female crew and cast?
I found it really empowering filming an all female cast with an all female crew, it was such a comfortable environment. I felt like I could ask for help without judgement.
We then got to meet the whole cast and chat with them, they were really lovely, I felt very pleased to have met them. I spoke about Eastside and how I would be editing, we spoke about the play and their characters and how long they’d been acting.
When it came to it, filming went by so quickly, it was really fun!
What was a highlight?
Definitely working with the equipment, it was a really big lens, [70-200mm] which was a bit intimidating at first, but getting to have that experience, working as a team with multiple camera set up was amazing.
How has this experience added to the experience of being part of EFC?
Being able to film and edit was a blessing and amazing learning experience – I now have multi-cam live event skills and it was helpful for me to be involved in the filming as I know what I need as an editor, I know the shots and I took mental notes throughout, thinking of the edit in my head.
What advice would you give to someone who gets a similar opportunity?
You may be nervous but take full advantage of the opportunity you are given.
Ask as many questions as possible, be reassured that for multi-cam – its teamwork and there are other people to rely on. In terms of post-production, go in there with an open edit mind – don’t be too particular. Have an instinct about it and come back with fresh eyes each day.