Ordinary Life, (Luke Suddes, Katharine Beavers, Dalene Low, Harrison So) is nominated in the Best Student Doc category for the Griersons 2022 Awards. Here, Producer Katharine Beavers, tells the story behind the making of the programme.
Our film, Ordinary Life, is a first-person documentary that chronicles the adversities faced by the filmmaker’s mother and uncle while growing up. It quietly observes their sibling bond through an intimate poetic-observational portrait of their present life. The film aims to challenge the audience to view hardship in a new light and proves that trauma doesn’t define who you are now.
This was our dissertation project when we were studying at Newcastle University, and during the initial stages of this module we all needed to pitch an idea for a film, or pitch ourselves as someone to fulfil a crew role. Initially, when our director pitched his idea to us as individuals and asked if we wanted to work on it, it was a different story: about his mother (Anouska) and uncle (Louis) adjusting to their new family dynamic after a long-lost half brother of theirs contacted them out of the blue. This situation got us thinking of how to explore sibling dynamics and how their working-class upbringing affected their attitudes later in life, as well as navigating this new change in the family dynamic.
However, shortly before we were going to shoot, the half-brother left the project due to personal reasons - meaning we had to pivot the story to more of an exploration between Anouska and Louis. We knew and we were all very inspired by Anouska and Louis’ effervescently positive attitude, and having Luke be such a close family member direct the film offered a unique insight into their story in such a way that can only be achieved by family members. As such, our biggest inspirations were films such as No Crying at the Dinner Table (Carol Nguyen, 2019) and Stories we Tell (Sarah Polley, 2019).
We were very restricted with how many shoots we could do, because of the limited budget, COVID-19 lockdown, and the location not being where any of us were living at the time, so we actually were only on-location for four shoots. So, we were very careful to plan the timings of shoot days, but we still had to be very aware of not overstepping boundaries during interviews and otherwise, particularly considering the sensitivity of some of the content we were asking them to discuss. We shot two interviews with Anouska and just one with Louis, and had one day dedicated to b-roll outside of the content we shot around the interviews. Anouska and Louis were the most accommodating subjects, though - not to mention Jess the cat’s cooperation with our camera operator!
The editing process was an especially interesting experience because there were a couple of different angles to approach the story from and what things to put at the focus of the film: particularly because we did have a lot of content about Louis’ PTSD after his bike accident. A few of our earlier cuts did involve this more, and we were editing all day every day to figure out how we wanted to have all the content fit together, based on the plan we went into shoot days with for sequences. We also toyed around with lots of titles, originally wanting to go for ‘The Beauty of it All,’ as referenced in a quote at the end of the film written by our director. Additionally, our sound recordist also got us in contact with a musician, Charles Lo, who composed fantastic original music for the film.
We adapted to the situational changes we faced and are very proud of our film, and we really hope you enjoy watching it!
Director & Executive Producer: Luke Suddes
Producer and Production Assistant: Katharine Beavers
Cinematographer & Editor: Dalene Low
Sound Recordist & Sound Designer: Harrison So
Composer: Charles Lo
Article written by Kat Beavers, Producer, Ordinary Life
Watch the full documentary of Ordinary Life (Newcastle University – University/College Screening) here
For a list of all Grierson nominees, click here and buy your tickets for the 2022 Griersons Awards, 10th Nov @ Queen Elizabeth Hall SE1 here. If you can't make it on the night, tune in to watch live stream here.