THREE friends who set up a film production company in Brent stumbled across Stonebridge while they were looking for stories in unexpected places.
When they told friends and others in London they were going to film at a boxing club in Stonebridge everyone was quick to tell them what they had heard about the estate in Brent.
But this only got Henry Blake, Victoria Bavister and Kristen Mcilquham more interested in what really went on there.
He said: “When we started to tell people we were filming in Stonebridge they would tell us not to go there and say how dangerous it was.
“For a filmmaker this just increases the curiosity and made me want to go more.
“We started asking around and what came out of the workshop [held with community members] was amazing, people talked about the history of the place as there used to be these huge high rises and they were the centre point for the community.
“Now they have been taken down everything is a little bit more splayed out and there is a interesting debate about whether they prefer it or not. The high rises are a big part of the history of crime in the area.”
The pair set up Scruffbag Productions in September 2011 with Kristen Mcilquham and have produced a number of short films.
Henry, 27, Victoria, 30, and Kristen, 32, live in Willesden Green and have been there for the past two and a half years. They have been working out of the old cinema space in Willesden Green Library, High Road, but have recently left as the building is being demolished for redevelopment.
They filmed The Boxer at Stonebridge Boxing Club and as they began to get to know the area and the community the new film, Stonebridge, came out of this.
In addition to commercial films they are also heavily involved with community projects.
Project 7, a script-writing competition, was part-funded by Brent Council and the filmmakers used Ward Working money from the council to set up workshop events in the community.
Young people were asked to submit entries which were seven minutes long, had seven characters and took one of the seven Olympic or Paralympic values as its theme. The winning film was shown at the torch relay celebrations in Brent and the project received more than 60 entries.
After the success of the competition the producers are now working with Brent Council on Film 5: The Drum, a competition designed to engage young people in the borough.
Five people will have the opportunity to be mentored by professionals as they make a short film based around one of five songs: Come Together by The Beatles, Changes by Tupac Shakur, Concrete Jungle by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Hometown Glory by Adele and London Calling by The Clash, which have been chosen to encapsulate the theme of regeneration.
The resulting film will be screened at the grand opening of the new Civic Centre in Wembley in the summer.
Ross Philip Lynch, a film student who entered Project 7 but did not win, was brought on board for the feature film, Stonebridge, which was co-written by Henry and himself.
The film tells the story of an ex-con who is forced to return to the area where he grew up after his teenage son goes missing.
Henry, who has been working in Stonebridge every day for the past three months, said: “The film is about the disappearance of a boy. It is not based on true events but we have taken some of the history of Stonebridge and what’s happening in that landscape and used it as a blue print for the film and put fictional stories on it.”
The filmmakers held research and development workshops to get ideas about Stonebridge and the people who live there. Many of the people who attended were aged 15 to 25, but other meetings with older members of the community were held as well and Henry said he is hoping to use as many people from the area as possible in the film.
He said: “The community has been incredible. The only reason this film has carried on is because of the members of the Stonebridge community. They have been so supportive, they want the film to be made they want to see the film that is truthful and really heartfelt. I will try and use as many Stonebridge locals as I can and I will be using all of the locations.”
Although there are many preconceptions and ideas about Stonebridge, Henry hopes the film will change this.
“I think what it looks at from that community point of view is a past reputation and a community now trying to regenerate itself. That is the whole idea,” he said.
“I am going to try and present it as positively as possible but I am not afraid to show it how it is. It is based on research and it will be a very real depiction of the area, there is a fictional thread running through but I am not going to create some sort of fictional world.”
The team have also produced The Boxer, which was filmed at Stonebridge Boxing Club, Memory Lane, and was nominated for Film Nation best narrative award at the British Film Institute.
They also produced Once Removed, a story of two sisters that was in the official selection for Cannes Short Film Corner 2012.
n Further workshops will take place from noon to 2pm on Monday, May 27, and Tuesday, May 28, at the Granville Centre, Kilburn; from noon to 2pm on Wednesday, May 29, at Roundwood Youth Centre, Longstone Avenue, Harlesden, and at the same time at the Pavilion Stonebridge Recreation Ground, Hillside, on Thursday, May 30, and Friday, May 31.
The sessions encourage people who have little or no acting experience to improvise and get a taste for the activity. Acting, directing, writing, producing and cinematography will be covered and everyone who takes part will receive a special thanks in the film.
Also, five people will be selected to work on the film in one of the above five capacities