New voices are hard to find. They are even harder to get heard. This is why Project 1961 has decided to write this film in a new way. So that it is even more representative of the young people it is about.
For this reason director Pinny Grylls develops and writes this filmin collaboration with the talented young people of Intermission Youth. Because they come from the same communities in London as our main character TJ and his friends.
‘Hear My Voice’ seeks to bring two worlds together. The world of opera, and also the world of the young people of Intermission.
Late 2019 they have been doing a series of Opera Workshops with Aga Serugo Lugo supported by The Royal Opera House (including visits from the Jette Young Artists singers.) With their generous support we have seen four operas this season at the Royal Opera House.
As a result they are ready to write their feature film script, Hear My Voice. With the support of professional script writers, directors and producers.
Hear My Voice is the story of a Congolese boy from Hackney who dreams of being an opera singer.
This is about a young black voice struggling to be heard. Furthermore his voice is unique, does not fit the mould and will break your heart with its beauty. Bursting with hope this Billy Elliot story with opera seeks to turn on its head what you thought you knew about opera and most importantly, who it belongs to. Bringing it to new audiences like never before.
15-year old TJ knows what society expects him to become as a young black man growing up in East London. A drug dealer heading for prison, a dad at 18 who abandons his child, or a footballer or rapper if he is lucky. But TJ has other ideas. He wants to be an opera singer.
Back in the Congo, he grew up listening to his mother’s vinyl collection of arias and concertos by Mozart, Handel and Tchaikovsky. He was part of the local classical choir and was well on the way to making his mother proud and becoming a singer. Then his mother needs to have a life treating operation in Europe. She doesn’t survive. Now living in the UK his father Ronald doesn’t want to hear him sing, or her music any more. So TJ pursues his passion in secret. Listening to his mother’s favourite music and practicing his singing in Hackney Marshes, far away from his dad and his new British friends.
Can TJ find the strength to share his unique singing voice with the world again?
Pinny co-founded Birds Eye Film Festival to showcase female directing talent in 2002. Since then she has built a career as a documentary filmmaker winning several awardsfor her films (most notably for UK Film Council funded Peter and Ben). She has made films for BBC, Channel 4 and The Guardian, and is passionate about the power of the arts to change people’s lives.She has made documentaries ( including The Hour and Becoming Zerlina) that turn our perception of theater, opera and ballet on its heads, as well as directing commercials and documentaries. Pinny has also spent several years running film-making workshops with young people. She grew up in Hackneyand still lives there with her husband and 2 children. Hear My Voice will be her first feature film.
Film production company Project 1961 was founded by Julia Ton in 2016. Inclusion (or rather exclusion), is a recurring topic in Project 1961’s slate. They are using the stage to raise awareness, and to make a positive impact on society. Julia is a producer with over 10 years of experience in fiction and creative documentaries. Her credits include films such as the International Emmy Award winner Bellingcat – Truth in a Post Truth World by Hans Pool (2018) and the multi award winning Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold (2012).
Intermission Youth Theatre (Intermission) was established 11 years ago by actor and artistic director Darren Raymond and has since been transforming the lives of young people through the works of William Shakespeare. Intermission work with Shakespearian text because the issues he wrote about 400 years ago remain as relevant to young people today: knife crime, romance, gang warfare, ambition, postcode rivalry, loyalty, jealousy and transformation. We want to remix opera in a similar way. So far Intermission have been to see several operas at The Royal Opera House and have also been doing a series of Opera Education Workshops as part of their research for the film.
Throughout her career British director Elaine Kidd has been challenging the status quo of the operatic industry. Now as Head of the Jette Parker programme at the Royal Opera House, the formidable Kidd has been shifting the lens on the narrative of opera with an aim to achieve mainstream accessibility. With this mission in mind she has facilitated the Hear My Voice opera workshops and visits, including private recitals by the talented young opera singers on the Jette Parker programme.
WE DID IT!
First of all, we would like to thank each and everyone of you who supported our Kickstarter campaign. Thanks to you we can develop a great story. One that is unique and gives a different perspective of young minoritised people growing up in London. Secondly, one about opera, and who it is for.
At Project 1961 we feel passionate about telling new exciting stories from a diversity of perspectives. Because we believe it is the stories we tell that help to shape our world.
By workshopping and developing the script in this way we give a platform to a group of people whose voice is rarely heard in the cinema, while at the same time developing their talents and filmmaking careers.
Equality of opportunity is key to diversifying the film industry. Many stories that reach our screens are written by those who can afford the time and money to spend six months or more hardly getting paid. Your support has made possible that they can focus their time to do this work.
BTW, Did you know that just only 7% of the directors are women? And only 2% of screen writers come from minoritised backgrounds.
HEAR MY VOICE is helping to get these percentages up! HEAR MY VOICE is a female-led feature film project written by young people from minoritised backgrounds.
WHAT WE DO WITH THE SUPPORT?
The script will be written during a six-month script writing workshop programme for the young professionals from Intermission Youth. The money pays for the time of a core group of talented Intermission writers/actors, as well as the time of the film’s Director Pinny Grylls and Producer Julia Ton from Project 1961.
In June 2020 we had our very first writer’s room for HEAR MY VOICE. First working on a treatment and after we will develop the script by improvising scenes, THE expertise of Intermission Youth. The ambition is that we deliver a script ready to finance in summer of 2021.
Please know that ALL the money raised by the campaign will go to either freelancers or financially vulnerable people. Especially after the C-19 pandemic outbreak this is very needed. This is keeping people going on thourgh a though time.
Please click on one of the buttons below and follow us on on the social media platforms. We are sharing all our updates on these.