After a tough but amazing commissioning process that involved a live pitch to a panel of experts and a room full of festival goers at Sheffield Doc fest, work now starts on our Guardian Commissioned documentary.
The original call for submissions asked for stories that would reframe the debate around poverty in the UK. Poverty is an evocative word with many associations. We all think we have an idea of what it looks like, but how much do we really know about those who feel the effects day to day? It’s a fascinating and daunting topic, but it’s one that is being discussed more and more in these somewhat troubling times.
As a society we are increasingly disconnected from our food and the people who produce it. This means it comes cheap but at what cost? – a farming industry in which people can be heavily underpaid and undervalued. This can have a significant effect on farmers and the welfare of their animals; and levels of poverty, poor mental health and suicide are worryingly high, especially in hill farming communities in Cumbria and Wales.
There is a misconception that poverty only exists in our cities; in those run down estates and high-rises. But it’s everywhere. Even in our most cherished beauty spots like The Lake District. I grew up surrounded by these mountains, amongst the farms, fields and animals and I have seen poverty tucked away in the landscape, under the noses of the visiting tourists. The topic we chose to tackle centred around poverty in the farming community in Cumbria.
The film will follow two young conservation trained farmers, Adam Crowe and Helen Rawlinson as they establish their business over the course of a year here in the Lake District. Adam grew up on a small tenant dairy farm in the Rusland valley where his dad Raymond still farms at the age of 72.
Our film won’t attempt to unravel the complexities of farming in the UK, but will look at some of the systemic problems within it and follow a young couple who have the capacity to paint a different picture – one of hope and sustainability in an important industry. As we move further into the uncertainty of Brexit and climate change, the food we produce will continue to be one of our most precious resources. We hope this film can provide a window in to the lives of those who create the food we eat.
I (Dom) will be directing and shooting the film, working alongside the awesome Rebecca Day as producer and Simon Sylvester in the edit. The 20minute film will be released in 2019 through the Guardian’s website and social media channels.