Freedom from Torture - Making the film - filmaker's comments

Making the film - filmaker's comments

Kristine Landon-Smith, masterclass facilitator:

I expected a group of very creative people who would, if guided carefully, not struggle with the artistic practice that we were looking at ... and that is what we found. So did not really differ too much from my expectations but found the sensitivity, and the hunger for artistic endeavour so strong, that I was able to work quickly and achieve extraordinary results in a very short space of time. I felt extremely satisfied after the experience. There was a generosity and an empathy between all of us which was so condusive to artistic work. I also felt moved by the group's trust in me, and moved by their sharing of their stories and experiences. There was a bravery to the work which was tangible and which somehow gave the artistic work a sharpness. The experience also in some way deepened my own practice ... I had to think very quickly and carefully to keep up and somehow I was made much more aware about the transformative power of artistic endeavour.

Josh Strauss, Camera/sound:

My expectations were mainly those of professional opportunities at the time; gaining more experience; developing my freelancing capabilities, etc.

But in practice I ended up gaining far more: the production ended up feeling like more of a family affair, such was the bond and enjoyment experienced by all. I was invited into people's lives and homes and became close with all the contributors. The production lasted over the course of a few months, shooting mainly on weekends, so there was far more time then I expected to build relationships, allowing for a much more sensitive and insightful portrayal.

Seeing the finished film filled me with a great satisfaction and also relief, knowing that we had gone some way to doing these incredible stories justice. Helpful and beneficial representation of these complex issues is very difficult in short form documentaries, but when you hear people's stories first hand and without too much mediation, the power and the importance of the lived experiences speak for themselves.

This project was a steep learning curve for me. With such a small team, we were forced to face many logistical issues head on and sometimes with a lot of improvisation. This kind of intimate production can teach you a whole host of lessons and I certainly learnt a lot to carry me forward and inform my future work. I feel very lucky to be a part of it.

Sheila Hayman, Director/Write to Life coordinator:

Trying to shoot a compelling film in an unlit room above a pub is ambitious; asking one camera/sound operator to cover the spontaneous words and actions of seven people at once is borderline sadistic.

And when the subject is as apparently arcane as this – how to inject people's native emotional and body language into performance in their third or fourth language – it could all have ended up unwatchable.

Luckily, the project was blessed with the gifts, commitment and technical abilities both Kristine and Josh brought to it. But also supremely gifted in the openness and willingness to experiment of the writers, and in the genuine emotions they revealed in different ways. I'm still surprised and gratified by the strong feelings the film evokes even in people who don't know us or our work, but I guess the writers' need to express their own stories, in their own way, shines through it and gives it an urgency and importance nobody can miss.

I too feel very lucky to have had this chance, and hope very much we can collaborate again in the future.