“Do you see what I see?”
Throughout early 2020, members of Ashford Phoenix, Pathways in Bradford, peer support group at Beth Johnson Foundation and SUNshiners worked with film- makers from Biggerhouse to make 22 films. With funding from The National Lottery Community Fund we made a series of films about the DEEP network. There are four, longer, films about each of the groups and 18 snapshot films of groups members.
These are films of DEEP moments in time– connecting together in a patchwork of stories and messages and portraying the importance of peer support, the connectedness between people with dementia across and the diversity of lives with dementia. The films are joyful, sad, honest, funny and wise. They are the films that people wanted to make about themselves. They are about the trust, safety, confidence and laughs that being a part of a peer group in the DEEP network brings; they are also stories of group members – their joys, relationships, loves, struggles, friendships and where they find themselves in this world of dementia. Their stories are all different, with dementia in the foreground and background, sometimes at the same time – just like dementia. “You don’t see what I see”, reminds Tracey – these are films that provide a window into people’s worlds.
People with dementia took on roles as film makers and directors – writing scripts, operating (and stroking!) fluffy microphones, managing sound, editing footage and repeating and repeating (and repeating) takes. The end films are not illusions where the film making process disappears – you will see the makings of the films themselves within each film. The making of the films has been as much a part of the story as the films themselves: “We were finding our way in this maze of the unknown” said Dot.
The filming was done before Covid 19 impacted. It has been bittersweet working at a distance, sometimes by Heath Robinson techniques, to edit, finalise and view the films. Since March 2020 people with dementia have not been meeting in their DEEP groups but their sense of belonging has not gone away. Many groups have surprised themselves learning how to use Zoom and What’s App to see each other. There have been garden gate chats, deliveries of cream teas, phone calls, virtual walks and craft sessions, postcards and letter writing. There is a sadness and concern about not be able to meet face-to-face for a long time to come.
So, first and foremost, we hope these films help to nourish DEEP groups until a time when we can all meet again. As John says; “In my group I can be myself and feel safe. My life is fuller and richer.” This is reiterated by Maq: “I’m in but looking out. My inner feelings are only known by people going through the same thing as me. They see the true me. ”
Secondly, as Gordon says: “I hope the films will reassure people who are newly diagnosed” and that other people understand more about dementia in people’s lives.
So, come on into people’s inner worlds. You will watch films about memory, stigma, word-finding problems, difficulties with spatial awareness and perception, intertwined with tales of mermaids, super-powers, music, sleep, horses and poets. Make some popcorn and enjoy!
You can view all of the films here https://www.dementiavoices.org.uk/deepmoments/
Co-director, Innovations in Dementia