Rocks and Democratic, Inclusive, Collaborative Development for Projects.
Firstly like am gonna say that I really loved this film for loads of reasons and this is going to be basically bumming off it so if you didn't like and are looking for some validation then you're in the wrong place.
I think it's worth saying that what I loved about this film I reckon might alienate a few other people if they've been thinking with a more mainstream head on. This isn't a money spinner it's a proper piece of British Art and should be thought of as such.
So to start with I think there's 3 categories I wanna look at this film from that I can we, as makers, can learn loads from as questions.
I might well be imposing something on this but fuck it. It feels to me like this was properly closely developed between the creative team and real people (if it wasn't - good job!). My suspicion is that the makers had an idea of what they wanted to do with a film and a story and the rest of the world came to fruition in collaboration with actual young people in East London. So we'll use this massive assumption based on nothing as a starting place:
- What if we, as makers, know that we are experts in making and understand that we have a function.
-Then we know what we our function might like to be.
- Then we admit that we cannot realise that function on our own with any real value without help from people involved in the world.
- Then we collaborate with real people, to achieve a function that is both philopshical and practical.
That's what this felt like. Something that isn't just a wanky film maker making a film about an issue in order to make a film but a film maker working in collaboration with a community to completely reimagine that community in the cultural eye.
Now this feels to me what's urgent about this moment in time. We've had our eras of auturs and most of them turned out to be over rated sex offenders that pulled up the draw bridge for the actual conversations that needed to be had to better our societies. Knowing the above... How can we not do seriously and vigourless develop projects with the communities that we're talking about. How can we step back away from our egos and actually use this to platform others? Yes your body has a political significance in this but it's about being aware of who you're working with and what that significance is... If you can find a reason then the Aims and Ambitions of the project over ride everything. And it can only be realised with collaboration with the community and the world of your story.
Once we dismantle a hierarchy in our development and get rid of the antiquated idea that director/writer/producer are away making their genius and we work with a community to make something that has a goal bigger than ourselves the next thing to do is ensure that that community is diverse. Now look this is really important and what I'm about to say isn't popular but I think ROCKS does it so well... If we can make it properly diverse and, as we should, see the human in people our perspective on an issue and a community becomes really generous. Look at Rocks; we have a mother who has abandoned her kids to fend for themselves and not once do we demonise her solely for that action. We feel it's a bad thing because we're in the POV of the characters but we try to understand her because of the inherent genourosity of the perspective of the film. This bleeds into it ever further; we see the Social Workers as bad guys but we know they're doing good... We see the new girl be horrible, violent, and commit fraud but we know she has her own problems. Collaboration, diversity, and inclusivity lead to generosity. Generosity leads to objectively understanding a situation and wanting solutions. We can see the social structure of this world so clearly because of the films genourisity. It is a world filled with love for humans despite everything... Which brings on to my final thing to take from it.
There is a version of this film (which I think I've seen) where Rocks whores herself out and her brother turns into running drugs and that would have been so shit. We are in a cultural moment where we have seen for generations the desperation, criminalisation and violentisation of the lower income demographic (and especially black bodies) in British Culture. What I think ROCKS does amazingly is that it celebrates love in the face of adversity. It is hopeful. It is joyous. Shit things happen but friendship prevails, the kindness of strangers prevail, foster families prevail... This a celebration of humanity in the face of a world that doesn't serve anyone. And I fucking LOVED it for that. We have seen so many stories about poor women selling their bodies, broken men turning to drink and beating their wives, young men selling drugs... These are all true of course but where's the hope for people watching this world from that world? The end result of telling that story over and over again about this world is that it becomes true in peoples heads. Which manifests in our social attitude towards people in the streets and in voting booths. Amplified by a right wing media it leads to a racist and working class mania of hatred. We, as artists, have to be generous in our outlook and be in the absolute pursuit of truth. We have to recognise the social repercussions of what we put our there and ROCKS does that in spades. Celebrating love and joy and humanity is how we give dignity to those this country has routinely shat on culturally for decades.
So to sum up I think there's a shit ton we can learn here. From democratic and inclusive story development. To generosity of perspective. To celebrating people and acknowledging hardship at once.
I think that Rocks could be the model for story development that we've never had in theatre. I'm pretty new to film and TV but I took so much from it about our role as story tellers.