Cardiff community project We Are Cardiff
– which began life as a blog allowing people to talk about how they experience Wales’ capital – will celebrate its third anniversary this weekend with the launch of a documentary film looking at alternative sides to the city.
Ahead of We Are Cardiff: Portrait of a City’s premier at Chapter Arts Centre on Sunday, we spoke to We Are Cardiff founder Helia Phoenix about how the project has developed since its launch in 2010, and what the documentary will show people about Cardiff.
Tell us how the We Are Cardiff film came about. What inspired you to make the move from the blog to the film? What were you hoping to achieve with it?
A few years back I went to a workshop run by Sheffield doc/fest about making on-screen features more engaging though adding digital elements to them. It occurred to me that the We Are Cardiff project would be great on screen. That’s where the inspiration came from. I wanted to bring to life what you read through the stories on the blog, and show the different scenes that we showcase on the blog – things like Swn festival, art car bootiques, markets, match days, roller derby bouts, Photomarathon – things like that.
Who did you enlist to help you make the film? How has it been funded?
The film has mostly been driven by myself and director David Madoc Roberts. He approached me after hearing we were planning on making a film out of the project as he’d had a similar idea himself when his wife had taken part in the blog and written an entry for it. Aside from the two of us, there has been a motley crew of changing volunteers who have lent time and assistance and equipment and advice. They’ve been legendary and we couldn’t have made it without them! We also got sponsorship from Cardiff University which helped cover some of our costs, and we were also partly crowd funded. I still haven’t covered all our costs though – I’m looking at the film more like an expensive hobby to help me cope with that!
What sort of stories does the film tell? Who did you speak to? How does the film unfold?
We interview a number of people who have written for the blog, people of all ages and from different areas in the city. We also have some local celebrities, like Dennis Dutch from Clerks Pies!
How long is the finished product? How long has it taken to make?
It’s just under an hour. In total we’ve been working on it in our spare time for a year and a half.
Looking back on all the work that has gone into the film, how does it feel to finally be showing it to the people of Cardiff? What do you hope people will take away from it?
It’s a massive relief to finally be getting it finished! It’s taken up so much of my spare time and my life, I’m really glad to be wrapping it up – and obviously I’m massively proud to be able to say that I’ve been involved in producing something tangible like an actual film from the website. It’s a really good feeling! I hope people will feel like we’ve managed to distill something of the positive essence of the city today – that feeling that we all love so much about the place – into an hour. There’s so much to get in there – but I think we’ve done it. I hope people agree!
What’s next for We Are Cardiff?
I think we’ll be developing the blog a little more. Identifying areas that we want to push or develop – maybe more interactive events in parts of the city. I really enjoyed having the We Are Cardiff wall at the the Big Little City event, so it would be ideal to do something like that. Maybe get a little deeper into parts of the city that we haven’t really managed to touch yet – places like Ely, Tremorfa, Butetown. So much to do – so many people to talk to, so many ways it could develop. For me personally though, I’ll be taking a little holiday from it for a bit!
We Are Cardiff: Portrait of a City will premier at Chapter Arts Centre on Sunday July 7 at 12.30pm. Tickets cost £6. More information can be found here