How to... tell a good story on film

The voices of people affected by regeneration can be drowned out by a deluge of technical jargon and glossy developers’ plans. So say a pair of film makers who’ve made a documentary on the subject – and who’ve now made Amaphiko a short film on how they did it.

Larry And Janet Move Out showed the clearing and demolition of south London’s Heygate Estate, by following Larry and Janet Colfer who’d lived there since it was built in 1974.

During such development schemes, residents can feel isolated and ignored as communities that have lasted generations are broken up and scattered. Film makers David Reeve and Patrick Steel help tell a side of the story we rarely hear.

This is a big issue in the UK where social housing is shrinking as homes are sold off under a policy known as Right To Buy and large housing estates are sold to private developers. The need remains: housing charity Shelter found that there are more than 1.8m households in England on the waiting list for social housing – an increase of 81% since 1997.

Southwark Council had long planned to pull down Heygate’s mix of towers, smaller blocks of flats and maisonettes, arguing that crime, energy efficiency and environmental problems made this a better option than improving existing homes.

Filming right up to the couple’s departure, Reeve and Steel capture the stress and pain that an enforced move causes. “It was lovely,” Janet reminisces about bringing up five children on the estate. “Knew all my neighbours, everybody was friendly… Although it’s a concrete jungle to some people, when I look out of my kitchen window, I can see all the blossom; it’s like the country.”

Since the documentary’s release, its makers have been posting a series of shorter films about other aspects of life on the estate, including films with postman Ismael and party girls Cindy and Riika.

Steel and Reeve’s exclusive short film gives their tips on how to tell human stories in compelling ways.