Angry Robot

The Windsor Project

History of the Project

A friend and I applied last summer for an NFB short film calling card grant – the subject was artists in Windsor, and we would have followed three different artists for a spell, artists whose work dealt directly with the economic crisis in their home town. In a nutshell, Windsor has been in economic decline for some time, but the recession and especially the problems in the US auto industry have wreaked havoc on the city. It now has the highest unemployment in the country, and the highest vacancy rate – the vacancy rate is plainly visible in most areas of the city, especially downtown and in the industrial areas, many of which would more accurately be described as post-industrial areas.

So we applied, were shortlisted, but ultimately didn’t get the grant. However, that was a good thing and the experience was definitely a positive one that improved the project. A very helpful NFB producer met with us and suggested many things, but one of them was to pursue the project as a feature. I thought that was good advice, but I couldn’t see how to do it, what with the full time job in a different city, a job that I actually like.

A couple months later, one of the artists we were to follow (Justin from Broken City Lab) announced a new project. Called Save the City, it was an ambitious series of five events designed to provoke creative thinking amongst Windsorites on how to, you know, save the city. As the events were once a month, on weekends, I saw that this could be actually doable for me. Moreover, their project cut right to the heart of what interested me: was it possible for regular people to rescue a collapsing city? What could be done about these suffering post-industrial centres, Windsor but also Detroit, Buffalo, Hamilton, Baltimore… the list runs long.

So I decided to do it – go and shoot the events now, and at the same time raise the money to complete the film as I went. I’ve shot two events already and am heading up again next weekend.

I will post more about this, but the time window has now already closed, so it will have to wait.