An independent filmmaker has focused on Croydon for his third film in a series on the changing face and gentrification of parts of south London.
Shane Duncan, 25, from Brixton, released ‘This is Croydon,’ the last instalment of his ‘This Is” series last Friday. The series highlights the thoughts and sentiments of different members of the Croydon community as the area undergoes massive regeneration.
Duncan’s two previous films ‘This is Peckham’ and ‘This is Brixton’ both also focus on themes of gentrificati0n and regeneration of areas. All three are available on his website
This is Croydon focuses on the new wave of people and businesses that are being brought in to modernise and regenerate the area. Croydon is currently bringing increasing activity from property developers, start-ups and major retail platforms such as Boxpark and Westfield.
Duncan interviewed several young creatives, including Farouk Dean, creative director at Cellar Door Promotions. Dean said: “We’re 15 minutes away from London Victoria, 12 minutes from London Bridge and 25 minutes from Brighton. That’s unprecedented in terms of accessibility”. Other subjects included Sarah Akwisombe, an interiors blogger and Plastician, an electronic music artist.
Duncan said: “After meeting people in Croydon, I can definitely say that the community is more than happy for regeneration to take place in Croydon, as long as it doesn’t come with much of the negativity. I personally think that the area could do with some new life to help the space look more appealing and modern.”
He added: “Croydon has produced more young and creative talents than any other borough in Greater London. I’m sure the talent will definitely double in the years to come.”
Duncan said that after educating myself about gentrification and regeneration in his earlier films, he had the right tools to be able to open the eyes of others, ”so they could see what’s going on right under their noses”.
Born and raised Brixton by a single mother from Jamaica, Duncan told ELL: “I’ve been making films independently for a good part of 9 years since leaving secondary school and want to continue doing so for the rest of my life.” He had wanted to make a film about Brixton for as long as he could remember. However, due to his dyslexia, he had trouble writing anything down.
The decision to have Croydon as the last instalment was a “no brainer” for Duncan. He said: “Brixton and Peckham are somewhat the same kind of area and not so far from each other. Brixton fell into gentrification and Peckham fell into regeneration, so it was important that I went much further south to see if I’d get a different opinion on change.”
Duncan told ELL how he became interested in regeneration: “When my mother would leave me with my aunty, [in Peckham] while she’d go to work, I could remember parts of the area disappearing as a kid but I didn’t really know what was going on until now.”
He added: “I remember walking through Brixton Village and started to remember times when I was a kid and had to go shopping with my mum, and how the village was very different back then.” He started to research where certain restuarants and shops had once been: ”I kind of fell down a rabbit hole and got lost in the idea of gentrification.”
Duncan will be continuing the gentrification and regeneration series next year; he said: “I will most likely be visiting all the areas again, but with a different format than the one I used for This is Brixton, This is Peckham and This Is Croydon.”
The mini docuseries is also on YouTube under Shane Duncan’s own channel. He says: “I only plan to make films from now on that can do some good for people or that can be a topic of conversation to spark change.”