Thursday, 5 October 2017

Make it Short film festival

My film Austerity Britain: Grenfell, exploring the ways in which the ‘culture of cuts’ contributed to the Grenfell fire, is hitting the short film festival circuit. 

First up is the Make it Short film festival in Lewes on the weekend of 14th/15th of October. 

Make it Short is a film festival aiming to shape cultural and social debate and will be showcasing films on the topics of social realism, alternative facts and modern feminism, among others. 

Austerity Britain: Grenfell - the 4th of the four-part series I made for Sub this summer - will close the Saturday afternoon session at around 6pm.

For more information visit:

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

[Film] Austerity Britain: Part Four

In the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, the borough of Kensington and Chelsea held a council meeting to discuss their response to the disaster. With the public gallery filling up with local residents and survivors poised to demand answers, a Tory councillor - unaware of being filmed - appears to be reaching the end of his tether.

Except, in that moment, Councillor Matthew Palmer was not angry at the string of failures that led to the fire. Nor was he fuming at the lacklustre response of his colleagues.

Cllr Palmer's frustration was in fact directed at a group of local residents banging on a locked door, desperate to enter and be heard. “Don’t let them in” he mouths, “don’t let them in”.

And that, in all its four-word simplicity, sums up the attitude of the ruling class towards the rest of us. It’s under the duress of exactly this attitude that austerity has been allowed to fester and why now - looming over West London, casting its shadows of shame - austerity has an emblem.

The 4th part of my series of films Austerity Britain looks at the ways in which the 'culture of cuts' played a part in one of the most horrific accidents in recent history.

All four parts can be viewed here.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

[Film] Austerity Britain: Part Three

Austerity Britain is my series of short films challenging the claim that "we're all in this together", and exposing the 'culture of cuts' as a counter-productive ideological obsession (read more about my motivations here).

Part Three goes behind the scenes at my local foodbank to dispel a few myths about how they run and who uses them.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

[Film] Austerity Britain: Part Two

Austerity Britain is my series of short films challenging the claim that "we're all in this together", and exposing the 'culture of cuts' as a counter-productive ideological obsession (read more about my motivations here).

Part Two focusses on education, where austerity translates into devastating cuts to school funding and the closure of children's centers all around the country.


Among the contributors are two prominent economists arguing against the status quo: Richard Murphy and Steve Keen. Both are professors at universities in London and both recently signed a statement along with over 100 other economists, supporting Labour's proposals in this election.

Part One (below) focusses on the issue of homelessness - specifically in my home town of Cambridge where cases of rough sleeping are on the rise and night shelters are struggling to keep up with demand.

Friday, 2 June 2017

[Film] Austerity Britain: Part One

Austerity Britain is a series of short films challenging the claim that "we're all in this together" and exposing the 'culture of cuts' as a counter-productive ideological obsession.

Part One focusses on the issue of homelessness - specifically in my home town of Cambridge where cases of rough sleeping are on the rise and night shelters are struggling to keep up with demand. It also features political economist Richard Murphy, a professor at City University of London.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

[Film] Austerity Britain

As Theresa May constantly loves to remind us, there's a very clear choice in this general election. That choice basically boils down to continued austerity with the Conservative Party, or the end of austerity with Labour.

Since 2010, government austerity measures have led to ravaged public services, increased levels of inequality and the largest decline in living standards since the 1920's. But none of this has been an accident: that's exactly what austerity is supposed to do. This is not a flaw in the system, it's a built-in design.

From education to the arts, infrastructure to health, and children to the elderly. Nothing and no one is safe from the ever-tightening government purse strings. They argue it's simply “living within our means”, but does it actually have to be this way?

Austerity Britain is a series of short films that challenge the claim that "we're all in this together", exposing the 'culture of cuts' as a counter-productive ideological obsession. The first part is due to be out on Sub Productions this Friday, but for now you can view the trailer here:

As we approach this general election the tide is turning. People are starting to realise they've been lied to. Cutting through the bullshit requires a certain level of commitment, but more and more people are taking it upon themselves to get responsibly informed, and that's being reflected in the polls.

Consider how Labour's popularity surge coincides with the broadcast impartiality rules of a general election kicking in. When people are presented with a more unbiased, balanced view it's clear whose brand of politics is more popular.

Consider how the Conservatives didn't once encourage voter registration in the run-up to the deadline through their social media channels. This tells you everything you need to know: a poor voter turn-out works in their favour. Their mindset is outdated. They don't represent a modern society.

Consider how Labour's policies are resonating with the public and - in sheer desperation - the only ammunition for a counterattack comes in the form of stuff Jeremy Corbyn said decades ago, knowingly taken out of context.

If the tide doesn't turn quite in time for this election, it surely won't be far away. Until then we must endure the rotting corpse of conservatism, but it's only a matter of time until a more progressive, inclusive and compassionate brand of politics takes hold.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Devon and Wales

I'd barely had time to relapse on this new year's futile collection of resolutions before I was off on the first shoot of the year: first to Devon and then to Wales.

The first location was a rundown warehouse in Exeter. As cold as it was gritty. We were there to shoot British trials bike champion Andrei Burton who has commandeered a corner of the otherwise derelict warehouse for training. If you don't know what trials bike riding is, imagine using a bicycle as a pogo-stick to jump impossible distances and you won't be far off. What's more, it's even harder than it sounds.

Andrei navigated the course of stacked wooden pallets and logs with ease. He's clearly at the very top of his game, which is just as well as we got him to repeat the course a few dozen times.

It's the sort of talent you struggle to even comprehend, let alone consider attempting. Eventually, I was pressured into trying the most basic of 'tricks': the track stand (the basic act of balancing on both wheels on flat ground) and failed hilariously. Meanwhile, I'm fairly certain Andrei could literally track stand in his sleep.

Here's the behind the scenes video that I shot and edited, followed by the video of Andrei culminating in a pretty crazy rock jump on a Devon beach (Directed by David Newton, edited by me)

Leaving Devon behind, we headed to the notoriously wet Elan Valley in mid-Wales to shoot a staged Top Gear-esque race between a road biker and a mountain biker. The former sticking to the road, the latter taking a more imaginative cross-country route, both culminating with a sprint finish across the top of Craig Goch dam.

On Day One in Wales we recce'd the route and were taken aback by the stunning Victorian structure; built in 1897 to supply Birmingham with water (73 miles to the east). Water was gushing dramatically into the reservoir below, and we couldn't wait to get back later in the week to shoot the race's finale.

However, when we returned to shoot the scene, the gushing had been reduced to a trickle and by the time the camera was rolling it was as good as dry. Still, there are some things you just can't control, and luckily the weather was as dry as the dam.

If you're dying to know who won the 'race', check out the video below (again, directed by David Newton. Myself: second camera and editor). You will recognise the mountain biker from the videos above. Give that man any bike, and he will ride it.

Friday, 24 February 2017

[film] Bike with Purpose

After 36 hours of traveling - through the air, on the road and across the sea - I eventually arrived at the stunningly laid-back Belizean island of Caye Caulker, thanking the respective gods of neck pillows and podcasts.

Contrary to the common misconception, I hadn't only ventured to this corner of the Caribbean to snorkle with sharks, swing in hammocks and gorge on fresh lobster. I was also there on a filmmaking mission with the island’s only high school, and relentless force for social good: the Ocean Academy.

The Ocean Academy opened in 2008 to offer Caye Caulker’s children an education without the prohibitively expensive and lengthy seafaring commute to Belize City. Since its launch, the school has also turned its hand to several social enterprise initiatives that actively encourage pupils to make a sustainable living in the tourism and fishing industries.

My short doc focuses on one of the longest running of these initiatives: Bike with Purpose. Every Thursday, pupils lead visitors on bike tours around Caye Caulker's tiny network of sandy, pot-holed lanes as they point out their favourite spots and tell stories from their childhood. The money is then split between the school and the pupil, all ultimately going towards their education.

Caye Caulker, Belize © Ryan Chapman

A popular hippy hangout in the 1970's, Caye Caulker has retained its lazy vibes - whilst avoiding the tide of resortisation that has swept over neighbouring Caye Ambergris - and thoroughly deserves its legendary status throughout the backpacker community.

Little more than a sand bar, and just a few metres above sea level at its highest point, Caye Caulker is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes and rising seas. But, if this puts the locals on edge, they don't show it. The island’s mantra ‘go slow’ is painted on tree trunks and etched into the minds of locals and tourists alike.

Caye Caulker, Belize © Ryan Chapman 
One hazy, lazy afternoon - running slightly late for a coffee appointment - I was stopped by a police officer and, only half-jokingly told that I was walking too fast. "Go slow" he softly demanded with something approaching a smile, though sternly enough for me to take note.

I was on my way to meet Joni Miller, a Canadian teacher who had originally just come to Caye Caulker on a snorkelling trip in 1999. She was struck by the lack of opportunities for the island’s youngsters and later returned to establish the Ocean Academy.

Today, she's probably the busiest person on the island, dedicating every ounce of energy into giving Caye Caulker's children the best possible start in life.

The film I made with Joni at the Ocean Academy can be viewed below and on Destination: Utopia, a platform for sharing ideas and initiatives from around the world that inspire positive change.