‘Jela’ dir. Will Robson-Scott

Brought up in the heart of the East End of London in a Turkish and English family Jela talks about his memories of growing up in the 80s and 90s and his time on the streets.

Director: Will Robson-Scott
Music: Makoto Masui
Editor: Luca Campanale
Key Cast: Jela

C8: How did you come across ‘Jela’ and why did you want to tell his story?

WRS: I first met ‘Jela’ at City of Westminster college were he was a student and I was doing some lectures to photography students about the perils of trying to make it as a photographer, he was one of those characters that immediately engages with you and I found him very interesting. He’s an native east Londoner, which is becoming a dying breed, everything around him has changed , but him and his peers are still exactly the same.

C8: Did you shoot the film all by yourself? And what challenges does shooting alone present?

WRS: Yes, I shot it by myself.  To me shooting a film like this one of the most important things is your relationship with the subject, and extra baggage as far as equipment or people can ruin this. The less clutter the better.

C8: Since it was a very small production how heavily were you involved with the edit?

WRS: The edit is the make or break part, luckily my editor (Luca Campanale) was very interested in the project and we dedicated a lot late nights to it.

We had to come to a compromise when it came to final edit.

C8: Jela is a very colourful character. Was there any footage that you didn’t want to cut but had to?

WRS: Jela has a wealth of stories that didn’t make it in, we were walking down the stairs of upton park tube on a match day, I was filming, there was a huge crowd and we’re being squashed as we’re fighting against the movement of the crowd as I’m walking down the stairs a chant erupts ‘Who are ya! Who are ya! Get that camera out my face! Get that camera out my face!! ‘ Instead of filming I put the camera down, I felt stupid for filming, but to be honest 30 pub men shouting at you can be a bit intimidating.

C8: What has the reaction to the film been like? And how did Jela respond to it?

WRS: Reaction was great, Danny Boyle film festival Shuffle are showing it. The edit was done in NYC, so I emailed it to Jela before the release to look over it, I think he just responded, ‘Nice1”.

C8: Where does ‘Jela’ sit in your career – what had you done before it and have you made many films since?

WRS: ‘Jela’ was the 5th in a series of short portrait film, looking at interesting everyday characters that might be overlooked. I’m just on the verge of releasing a new film ‘Chi Raq’ which a short film in Chicago, looking at the staggering gun violence which blites the South and West of the city. It is a film based in Chicago but really the issue is an American one.

C8: How did shooting a documentary compare to the commercial and photographic work you had done previously?

WRS: They all mould into one really, you have to approach commercial work a bit differently as you have a brief to stick to, but all my work is really about me and the subject getting along.

C8: Does photography help with documentary filmmaking in particular?

WRS: I thing they all link together the way I set up a still image is exactly the same as I set up a moving image.

C8: The film was supported by WeArePlus who are based in New York. How did you get them to support your project based in the UK?

WRS: WeArePlus have been amazingly supportive, its all down to Luca Campanale my friend and editor, he gave me his time, and Jeremy and Judy who run it luckily let me use him and there space when its available.

C8: What’s the essence of a good collaboration?

WRS: Trust.

C8: If you did the whole process again is there anything you would change?

WRS: I would have kept filming when the 30 football, pub, men were shouting at me.

C8: What’s next for Will Robson-Scott? Any plans for the future?

WRS: Launching ‘ChiRaq”, I’ve been jumping between London and NYC for the past few years so have to decide which one to stay in. Make new pictures and films.