Still from Who Killed Brown Owl
Who Killed Brown Owl

Who Killed Brown Owl is a community project with a difference. Funded by the London Borough of Enfield, and featuring 80 locals young and old, it comprises just one continuous take. Director Joe Lawlor, of film making company Desperate Optimists, describes the background to the film:

"The London Borough of Enfield approached us to do something in their area. They were launching the reopening of the New river that runs through Enfield, and I guess they could have spent the money on fireworks and the like, but they have a growing record for investing in film and video initiatives so doing this made sense to them. We have done other moving image projects with community groups, and they thought we might be the people to artistically direct this event. It was a challenge we gladly accepted. The impulse to shoot on film was ours because we felt 35mm film could properly capture the idyllic surroundings.

Still from Who Killed Brown Owl"It's very collaborative because we worked with the residents of Enfield to realise the whole thing. We see the content as an unfolding painting which is a small nod in the direction of works from Breughel et al. The whole thing is shot at half speed which accounts for its slightly drunken feel. We were trying to capture the feeling of a typical sunny summer afternoon down by the river, but things are going wrong, the wheel's coming off the day, so to speak.

"One of the pleasurable things about the process was to get first-timers to performing to really go for it. The fact that everyone got behind the film showed real courage. And the fact that it's just one single take is both highly ambitious and somewhat stupid to try and pull off. Flaws and rough edges aside (and boy there's a few of them!) I think we got something special on film.

Watch a clip
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Who Killed Brown Owl was the joint winner of Best British Short Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival, 2004, along with Billy's Day Out, directed by Iain B MacDonald. More Edinburgh award winners.
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