Q: How do you approach storytelling?
One of my aims as a filmmaker is to encourage audiences to engage with familiar topics from new perspectives. With that in mind, when I began the research for ‘Growing Underground’ I knew I wanted to use a less traditional approach to storytelling and make something with a more contemporary feel.
As well as emphasising the otherworldliness of the farm through the film’s music and cinematography, I used narration to create an ‘Operator’ character who guides the audience - the ‘seeds’ - through the production line, all the way from planting to plating up in the surface. I hope that this approach helps to challenge preconceived notions of food production, demonstrate a possible future, and ultimately leave the viewer energised and excited about what could be.
Q: Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film/program?
Filming on a working farm (particularly one in an old air raid shelter!) certainly posed a number of challenges. By its nature an air raid shelter isn’t the most spacious of locations, and all useable space that did exist was dedicated to growing micro-greens… making it hard to set up a tripod, let alone get the perfect shot. The huge whirring fans - though they made for great visuals - also made it very difficult to record audio. Finally, access to the farm was through either a tight 33 metre staircase or a very small lift, meaning there were limits to the kit we could bring with us.
Q: What impact do you hope this film/program will have?
At its heart, I wanted the film to foreground a vital but uncomfortable question - how are we going to produce enough food in the future? Re-using urban space for agriculture may be a part of the answer, but there needs to be a much wider re-evaluation of how we feed ourselves while also being kind to people and planet.
In particular, I hope that the more contemporary storytelling in the film appeals to younger audiences who may not otherwise have engaged with ideas about food security, and that whoever watches it comes away with their own questions about the food they eat and where it comes from.
Growing Underground won our Student category at the 2022 Jackson Wild Media Awards.
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