Our role as a Film service is to facilitate filming whilst keeping the best interests of the general public in mind and to develop ways for filming to occur whilst causing minimal impact. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously and that we approach with initiative and heart.
Some years ago, we were approached by Minnow Films regarding Damilola, Our Loved Boy – their intended feature film about the tragic murder of Damilola Taylor. As we all know, it was a crime that left the nation reeling. We understood that the production hoped to raise awareness of critical issues, to tell a vital human-interest story and to shed light on the tragedy with integrity and honesty. Their aim was to film on location in Southwark where Damilola was killed and this presented enormous red flags given the trauma that it could understandably trigger for the local community.
So, led by Sue Russo (then Southwark Film Officer), we embarked upon an incredibly careful and thorough process of engagement. We wrote to Southwark’s Head of Communications, Chief Exec, and Head of Housing with the proposal. We committed ourselves closely to every stage of the production and were authorised to film on Silverlock Estate in Rotherhithe as a result. We were adamant that this production should have the local community as its heart, so we influenced the decision to cast a local schoolboy as Damilola, secured placements as runners and extras for estate residents, hosted residents’ meetings throughout the process, and secured donations to the Tenants Residents Association.
After filming was completed, all involved were delighted with how the process panned out. Not only did it create opportunity for the local community, attitudes towards filming on the estate were entirely overhauled and several shoots have been welcomed since, including Save Me. We are proud to play a part in the telling of such important stories and to successfully serve both the local community and the film industry.