In 1966, Ken Loach's TV drama "Cathy Come Home" changed the way we look at homelessness. 50 years later, 20 people with various experiences of homelessness, will come together for their own performance of Cathy to an audience of 2,000 people. This film will track their journey – from street to stage. And here's the latest video update from the group!
The documentary has the blessing of and will include interviews with Ken Loach and Tony Garnett, the original director and producer of 'Cathy Come Home'.
This documentary will follow the chorus of actors - ‘Members’ of homeless theatre charity Cardboard Citizens' inclusive community, supported by Kate Winslet - through rehearsals to their opening night performance at one of the world’s most famous and idolised stages, London's Barbican.
With a surge in negative portrayals of poverty, this film will aim to show those with the experience of homelessness in a new light – less the common portrayal of the homeless as hopeless victims, more a celebration of achievement, of aspirations, of triumph against adversity.
But the reality is, we don’t know what the story will be. The rehearsals are an organic process, the individual outcomes unknown. The causes of homelessness are multiple and complex, the effects on mental health, confidence and self-esteem are common and enduring. In addition, the actors may be affected by anything from health and addiction problems to abusive relationships. Starting with the casting and rehearsal process right up until opening night in July, we will join the homeless actors - the drama, the tension, the excitement, the frustration – on the road to the performance, wherever it may take us.
This is an important and exciting film to make now. Not only is it a one-off opportunity to capture this unique and timely experience and journey; with homelessness on the rise, this is an opportunity to reflect on how things have – or haven’t – changed since 1966. Homelessness applications are 5 times as high as they were in the 1970s. Homelessness in London has increased 79% since 2010. Against a backdrop of this homeless crisis, the documentary highlights the everyday issues and experiences of homelessness today compared to 50 years ago.
It also highlights the power and potential of theatre and the arts to both truly change lives, give confidence and purpose as we witness the individuals' journeys; but also the potential of art as advocacy and a lobbying tool – can it work? What did Cathy change? And what can this film change?
The film has had a lot of interest already from broadcasters, but no confirmed commission yet. Time is of the essence, we need to start filming or risk missing some of the life-changing moments early on in this project – so we need your help!
What the money is for
The minimum money we are raising through Kickstarter - £6,000 - will cover the cost of shooting the entire rehearsal process.
This will include:
- the provision of 'video diary'-type small cameras to key cast
- the filming of interviews with the participants before and after the project, and interviews with Tony Garnett (confirmed) and other key people.
- It will also cover the costs of a short trailer for the documentary distributed to programme commissioners, with the aim of securing follow-up completion funding and a broadcast for the project.
- The documentary is largely observational - following the characters through the processes - and will include video diary footage from the main cast who will be given cameras to record their thoughts, feelings and lives.
If we raise more funding it will enable us to edit a rough cut for further fundraising. A total fundraising achievement of £22,000 would allow us to edit and complete the film.
Risks and challenges
- Challenges filming the production
The production rehearsals will be intense, and will be demanding of the participants, all with varying needs and degrees of experience. Rehearsals at the best of times can be stressful - even 'professional', highly trained and famous actors are known to fly off the handle towards the final stages. Furthermore, cast members may not understand the impact being on TV could have on them emotionally and pscychologically- especially if they have a lot of issues to deal with during production.
The filming therefore needs to be handled sensitively, be unintrusive and not interrupt what will already be a fraught process. Cast members will be properly briefed and supported before, during and after the production.
Some of them have already been filmed and understand the impact.
In addition, Wilderness has extensive experience of filming in sensitive and difficult situations - from conflict zones to documenting very personal stories. And the lead director from Wilderness is already known and recognised by many of the participants.
It is also Wilderness' priority to ensure the participants consent and are not exploited in any way in the filming or editing of this project - again, we have extensive experience documenting very personal stories, and know what to leave in and what to take out.
- Challenges securing completion funding
We know this will be a great - and very powerful - film. And we have had a number of broadcasters that say this is a great idea, though 'not quite the right time for us'. We are confident that with a strong trailer from the footage, we will be able to secure completion funding. However, if we don't, we will make a less ambitious film which will be primarily for outreach purposes.
- (28 days)