1000 Londoners: Mapping Londoner's stories one film at a time

Documentary specialists 1000 Londoners (with Chocolate Films) are currently hard at work on a highly ambitious and unique ethnographic filmmaking project- producing a series of 1000 short films charting lives of all kinds across contemporary London.

1000 Londoners is a digital portrait of the city aiming to offer an insight into the lives of 1000 people who consider themselves to be Londoners, taking in all ages, religions, race, income, interests and opinions. Each week, a 3 minute profile of a Londoner is posted on the 1000 Londoners home page, and at the start of a new week at midnight GMT, the home page changes to show the profile of a brand new Londoner. All the profiles are archived into a searchable online gallery of Londoners.

The plan is not just to leave these stories sitting on the website however, and over the last few weeks sets of these short films have aired across London venues, each week devoted to a different theme and group of people. 

The first theme, starting from 2 November, was Night Crawlers and featured Londoners who do their living in the nocturnal hours and includes escorts, cabaret artists and clubbers, as well as Trevor who puts up Christmas lights and Save Soho's Tim Arnold. Easy Riders looked at those who traverse the city (and their own) limitations using two wheels, be it wheelchairs, pedal power or those, like Vicious C*** Cycle rider Gemma, who prefer Harley Davidson horsepower. Fight Club looks at the tougher side of life, taking hits and giving them be it in boxing or wrestling.

This writer popped down the the Hotel Elephant to catch the Easy Riders film collection on a chilly Friday on November 20, and was duly impressed by the diversity of subjects the filmmakers had captured and the intriguing niches of London life they had burrowed their way into, from Critical Mass riders to the capital's idiosyncratic rickshaw riders. There is no discernible agenda or slant to things, no on-screen text or other voiceover other than the chatter of the subjects, and no two are alike. 

The filmmakers are also on hand at each event for Q&A's, with the Easy Rider post-screening talk becoming quite lively as it ranged over the backstories of the interviewees, how well they were practicing cycle safety, and exactly how safe it is to be on two wheels in London today. As to how long it will take 1000 Londoners to finish this project at the rate they are going, that was a question for another day.

There is still one last chance to catch the last program- Fight Club- tomorrow at Hotel Elephant. Details of the entire program is below.

The screenings are part of the BFI’s Britain on Film season and are supported by Film Hub London with Londonist as media partner. 

The entire programme runs as:

Night Crawlers

Night Crawlers shines a light on the stories of Londoners who come out at night, from club kids to security guards.

Hackney Picturehouse | Monday 2 November 7pm

The Exhibit, Balham | Tuesday 3 November 7pm

Deptford Cinema | Wednesday 4 November 7pm

Stow Film Lounge | Thursday 5 November 7pm

Hotel Elephant | Friday 6 November 7pm


Easy Riders

Easy Riders follows the tracks of London’s bikers. If it has two wheels, they are on it.

Hackney Picturehouse | Monday 16 November 7pm

The Exhibit, Balham | Tuesday, 17 November 7pm

Deptford Cinema | Wednesday 18 November 7pm

Stow Film Lounge | Thursday 19 November 7pm

Hotel Elephant | Friday 20 November 7pm


Fight Club

Fight Club smashes through into the world of boxing and wrestling. Grapple with the Londoners who fight for fun.

Hackney Picturehouse | Monday, 23 November 7pm

The Exhibit, Balham | Tuesday 24 November 7pm

Deptford Cinema | Wednesday, 25 November 7pm

Stow Film Lounge | Thursday, 26 November 7pm

Hotel Elephant | Friday, 27 November 7pm


Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.