The Heart of Harlesden: Making Documentaries with Young Filmmakers in Brent

In what has been an incredible youth filmmaking project, Sparks Film School recently partnered with the Young Brent Foundation to make youth film productions as part of a local heritage project.

Their Now You See Me project aims to champion and platform the voices of young people, a cause we feel passionate about and an aim that underpins all our work with young filmmakers.

The Now You See Me project helps to give young people in Brent a platform to share their voice, as well as to help develop their creative and interpersonal skills. The project invites young people to tell their own unique stories and to create a living history of young people and the community of Harlesden.

Making the Heart of Harlesden

Sparks team members Connor and Vincent took to Harlesden in North West London, where they supported local young people helping to create their own unique documentary. Their filmmaking focused on the young peoples in Harlesden, and their connection to their local area. 

During the two days they spent with the young filmmakers, Vincent and Connor guided the young filmmakers through practical, creative workshop sessions focused on filmmaking skills and documentary making in particular.

Learning about Documentary Filmmaking

On the first day the youth filmmaking group spent time exploring filmmaking techniques and how to use different film language and filmmaking techniques effectively. They looked at a range of different camera angles, the rule of thirds, and different techniques to show the ‘Past, Present, and Future’ through film.

The group also discussed their thoughts and ideas about Harlesden, how they felt about the area, the local community, what stories they had from growing up there, and how they would like their documentary to take form. 

The group felt that one way they could effectively represent and get to the heart of the wider community of Harlesden for their documentary, was to go out and get the local people involved in their project too. So, to the high street everyone went!

The young filmmakers decided to interview local people, including shopkeepers and other young people within the local area and ask them how they felt about Harlesden. The crew met many interesting people and learnt a lot about the area’s history. The filmmakers conducted the interviews themselves and as documentary makers, they produced some very stirring and quite emotive responses from the people they spoke with.

To enrich their documentary, and to add diversity of perspective, the young filmmakers wanted to interview themselves and tell their own stories to the camera. Collectively, they captured their thoughts and feelings about Harlesden, working together and directing each other.

The documentary took shape over two workshop days. The young filmmakers came away from the film project having learnt a great deal about filmmaking, including documentary techniques, camera and sound operation, devising, collaborative planning, interacting with members of the general public and conducting interviews as part of documentary filmmaking.

Sparks was immensely proud to have been part of this creative and joyful process. During the process, the young filmmakers suggested the title ‘The Heart of Harlesden’, which we feel sums up their sincere, community-focused and heartfelt documentary perfectly!

Take a look at their documentary below:

About Sparks Film School

Sparks Film School helps young filmmakers to learn all about filmmaking and to develop their skills, confidence and creativity. We offer filmmaking classes for ages 5-18, alongside filmmaking holiday courses, animation and photography courses.

Through our Sparks Communities programme – which operates as a CIC – we work with community partners including schools, charities and organisations to widen participation and offer film and media opportunities to young people who may face barriers to access. Find out more here >>

For this project, we were proud to partner with the Young Brent Foundation, who deliver focused support and activities that develop capacity and encourage greater opportunities to connect, collaborate and succeed for young people in Brent.

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