Read about James’s experience and watch the mini-documentary here.

James Firth:

Working with Eastside to make the three-minute short ‘Waste’ has been a supportive and transformative experience, challenging and improving my skills as a filmmaker. As my first real project as a writer/director, I had little experience in professionally pitching and developing an idea. Whilst I had a general vision for the film, it was the support and guidance of the Eastside team and fellow crew members, as well as the contributors, that brought this project to fruition. 

As a part of Eastside Film Crew (EFC), I had access to relevant equipment and a budget for production, which was a huge help in getting the film made. On top of this, the mentoring I received helped to refine the story and make sure this film packed the relevant punch – a message of positive action at a personal level. 

Guidance from mentors Nandita and Alex were massively helpful when during pre-production and post, ensuring a professional and considered approach when trying to boil down 1.5 hours of the interview to 3 minutes. Also, it was the collaboration with other young filmmakers who I met through EFC that brought the project along, especially working with Kieran Akhtar in post-production. 

The idea was to show a small scale local response to a large scale global problem. I was bothered by the feeling of powerlessness that can creep in when considering the big issues in society and wanted to react against it. Researching food waste was alarming, with a WRAP report positing that the UK wastes around 9.5 million tonnes of food a year. This is a huge figure, almost unimaginable, but this number is essentially the culmination of very many small decisions made by consumers and manufacturers. The way in which the small decisions from households impact the larger issue quickly became apparent, with websites such as lovefoodhatewaste making this relationship clear. 

This is where my friend Keir sprung to mind. He and some friends set up the community project ‘Bristol Junk Food’ (BJF) and have been hosting pop-up cafe’s and supper-clubs to raise money for local charities for 4 years now. Their volunteers take surplus food off the hands of restaurants, shops and other suppliers (food that would have gone in the bin) and cook it up into delicious meals. The proceeds then go to local charities, often food-related, making this venture a wholly positive impact and an instance of localised, direct action.

I wanted to share Keir’s story as a small insight into the sort of change you can make at a local level and within the household, aiming for minimal waste and a modest, economic way of living. As Keir said during our chat, turning one light off isn’t going to solve climate change… but it’s not going to make things worse. It is this sort of positivity and personal responsibility which I think many of us could do with a bit more of at times (I know I could). I look forward to my next project, hopefully working with EFC again and implementing all that I have learned from the journey creating ‘Waste’. 

A short documentary by James Firth about food waste and small decisions.