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Interview / Phoebe Langley: From; Jordan
We sat down with filmmaker Phoebe Langley Gussin on her latest documentary ‘and Now What? – From, Jordan’. This short piece was commissioned by the Roundhouse Theatre and is a time capsule made for a friend, Jordan, a 21-year-old male from South London at the beginning of his gender transitioning story. Her film is a soft and honest account of the experience of Jordan navigating transitioning in his hometown.
P: My name’s Phoebe, I’m a filmmaker, but during COVID I’m a motion graphic designer and work a bit on podcasts with visual design and branding. I’ve been doing that for roughly a year based in South-east London.
It’s my first and only doc I’ve done. We shot in December last year , which feels like a long time ago.
J: How was the filming process, did it run smoothly?
P: It was a little hard actually, I didn’t know what to expect. But it was funded, and I had mentorship within the Roundhouse. I had a mentor called Nia Childs who is also a filmmaker and does documentary-based work, it was really helpful to have her. It was quite a short turn around, we got awarded funding in October and had to show it in December.
J: Did you have an idea before you got the funding?
P: I had the idea whilst doing a course with them, but it was definitely a huge learning process. I knew during production I wanted to work with people I already knew, as I felt it makes the process easier.
J: Where did the subject matter come from?
P: Me and Jordan have been friends for years. We went to school together, so we already had a relationship and then we lost contact, going to different colleges. We then rekindled our friendship and spoke about how we wanted to document his transition, initially not to be shown, it was just for him. We didn’t think it was going to be commissioned or anything, so it’s nice.
J: In the future would you keep with the same documentary style?
P: I think so yeah, it’s funny right after we screened it a lot of people were like what’s your next thing, but my heart was in this project for so long. I don’t want to make something for the sake of it, I want it to be more organic.
J: Definitely, you can kind of tell when a story is close to someone a lot of love goes into it.
P: Making a film on someone else’s life, it’s important to remind yourself that it has to be a collaborative project, it can’t just be exploiting someone’s story, that’s not what a documentary is about. Speaking with Jordan he wanted to make this film because when he was younger there was no one on screens that he looked like or he in any way could resonate with so it was one of the main aims of the film. It’s important to establish that when going forward in making documentary, it’ll be a collaboration.
J: What was the course at the Roundhouse, perhaps others could benefit from it too?
P: Yeah the course is amazing! I mean before it I was working in a chocolate factory, It really opened a lot of doors…It’s called the Bloomburg broadcast, hopefully it’s still running. It’s a 6 week course for 18-25 year-olds and all about the life broadcasting they do at the Roundhouse, for producing, editing, you learn so much it’s great.
J: That’s amazing, when you have ideas that you really want to execute, having backing from an organization like the Roundhouse is great, and has allowed you to make such a lovely and polished piece. We love it!