About this project
New Town Utopia is a documentary feature film that explores the original utopian dreams of a post-war British New Town – Basildon, Essex - and compares this to the modern concrete reality. We're close to finishing production, and after four years of serious hard work, have hundreds of hours of footage ready to be crafted into a poetic, challenging film.
It is a meditation on British social history that asks the question: do people make the place… or does a place make the people?
An audiovisual journey through art, architecture and memory, the story is brought to life through the thoughts, performances and work of artists from the town. An inspirational group of characters persevering in the face of austerity, adversity and personal battles.
These are individuals driven by an unwavering desire to help their community through poetry, music, sculpture… and puppets.
WHY NEW TOWNS? AND WHY BASILDON?
After WW2, New Towns were designed as social 'Utopias' in the model of Thomas More's vision - to create “a new type of citizen, a healthy, self-respecting, dignified person with a sense of beauty, culture and civic pride.”
Basildon, the largest of the first wave of New Towns, was invested with these hopes and aspirations. However, 60 years on, art and culture are almost a distant memory. The town plans, public art and architecture, once thought so progressive, are vilified in the face of a struggling local economy and fragmented communities.
New Town Utopia questions how this dream has faded over time. In doing so, it explores the influence of environment and architecture on our psyche, and the impact of austerity on our towns and communities. In an environment where support for art and culture is at an all-time low, this film contemplates and celebrates the unceasing power of creative spirit.
The team behind New Town Utopia includes Essex-raised Producer-Director Christopher Ian Smith and Executive Producer Margaret Matheson (Sleep Furiously, Scum, Sid and Nancy).
HOW YOU CAN HELP
So far, New Town Utopia has only been made possible through the kindness, time and talent of a dedicated crew with belief in the project.
Now we need to raise the money to finish the film - this requires a wide range of specialist skills, technologies, facilities and time to make it happen, including:
- Editing, Music Composition and Sound Design
- Deliverables (i.e. Tapes, DVDs, DCPs)
- Submission charges to film festivals
- PR, marketing & distribution
These campaign funds will also contribute to the distribution and marketing of the film. We’re already in a great place with significant followers on Facebook, Twitter (2.5k) and Instagram (6.4k) without anyone having seen the film. There is a large community of people out there, with a strong interest in documentary, social history art and architecture.
What’s more, any money we raise above the target will contribute to the distribution of the film and outreach activities, including screenings for communities around the UK - using the film to build awareness of issues that face our towns and their people.
Your gratefully received contributions will be exchanged for a range of unique rewards relating to the film. This includes perks such as:
- A download of the film when completed in 20
- A ltd edition, numbered and never previously available Depeche Mode photo
- A limited edition book featuring photography, poetry and prose.
- A limited edition print of the film's 60s influenced poster
- A personalised poem by the super talented poet and Essex Disco Champ Ralph Dartford!
- Tickets to a screening and Q&A session with the Director and key characters from the film..
- ... and many more unique rewards (including some surprises later in the campaign!)
THE IMPACT OF THE FILM
2016 marks the 500th anniversary of Thomas More's Utopia and the 70th anniversary of the New Towns Act. New Town Utopia hopes to shine a light on some of the current challenges for Basildon, New Towns and other towns in the UK facing economic, social and cultural changes. We hope the film will have a positive impact on Basildon and the film’s distribution strategy will incorporate community action initiatives and projects involving Basildon and other New Towns.
The New Towns movement did not end in the ‘50s... New Towns continue to be built across the world with similar hopes, dreams and challenges – and are often cited as the cure for housing crises around the globe. If we did it again – how can we make it work?
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
Whether you make a contribution or whether you spread the word. Every little counts! You can also:
- Spread the word to your friends, family and anyone else who may be interested in the film’s cause
- Share the campaign on social media channels or your blog using the Kickstarter share tools on this page. The short link to use is: www.bit.ly/ntufilm - please mention @kickstarter and @newtownutopia.
- Treat your friends and family by buying perks as gifts!
- Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THE NEW TOWN UTOPIA JOURNEY!
Risks and challenges
There are several key risks and challenges that the film faces ahead. Producing a feature film is a considerable undertaking with many moving parts. It will take a lot of time, thought, dedication and talent to see it through.
1. New Town Utopia has a small crew of dedicated people – it’s a labour of love - so a key risk is that those involved have to move onto other projects in order to pay their bills. The funds raised by this campaign will ensure that this dedicated team can focus on getting this film over the line.
2. Time is also a challenge. We want to finish the film in 2016, as after four years of production it’s time to move onto the next stage which is finding an audience and making an impact. Most importantly, the content of the film is incredibly timely – as we look at how we deal with globalisation, Brexit and the housing crisis. New Town Utopia is a window into a real community and how a 'top-down’ approach to planning, management and politics has an impact on this place and its people.
The funds from this campaign will ensure a focus on delivering the film for festivals and distribution in 2017.
3. Even when the film is completed it’s tough to get it seen. As the way we watch and consume films is changing, there are many ways an audience can find a film. It's crucial that New Town Utopia gets exposure through key film festivals. This will then hopefully lead to screenings on TV, Netflix or similar. We will also look to build buzz and awareness of the film through community screenings and online activity.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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