The Participants

and their films 



Yussef and Haifa Ahmed









Andrew Burchall














Robert Homer





Fran Tierney









Keisha Walker






















The film, ‘The inspirational man and his Journey to one’, is a collaboration be- tween Youssef and his wife, Haifa, and Briony. When the project started, Yussef was already very close to the end of his life and would die shortly afterwards.

Haifa attended some of the early project workshops and she and Yussef had a keen sense of what they wanted the film to show; that it might reflect his beliefs and experiences through highlighting his musical and political activities and at the same time provide an important record for their daughter Reem.

The challenge of this film was to find the right balance between the authorship and hopes of those involved in its creation and respecting and privileging the wishes of Yussef. The film combines old and recent photographs and footage of musical performances, Yussef’s final birthday and his funeral. It provides one of the narratives to emerge as part of his involvement in the project. Due to losing Yussef so early on, we were reluctant to fix his story without him. Therefore, in the original exhibition, in addition to presenting an edited film on the central projector, other clips and recordings, which were produced or selected by Yussef and Haifa as part of the project, were available on the touchtable.




Andrew’s enthusiasm for the project came from his long-standing interest in art and culture, strong views on life and death and the very limited opportunities he has for social or creative activities owing to significant physical constraints. Unexpected hospitalisations during the project presented further obstacles to realising all his aims for the film, but in collaboration with friends, Briony and the research team, images were selected and monologues captured and brought together into two final cuts.

The challenge here was about achieving a balance between Andrew’s am- bitions for the project, his wealth of ideas and what was possible.

The final result was achieved primarily through Briony visiting Andrew at home, and recording him there with a digital SLR camera. Though Andrew wasn’t able to be as involved in the project as he had hoped, his characteristic optimism – his friends from his time living in Kenya pronounced him a ‘life-ist’ – compelled him to give what he could. We recorded his thoughtful reflections on his experience of the care system and the heightened value that medical advances place on human life.


Rob is a keen artist and, more recently, poet. No stranger to the  creative process, Rob’s challenge was how to transfer this familiarity to the unknown medium of film and via a set of tools that were new to him. His priority was a ‘warts and all’ disclosure of his experience of cancer. In order to achieve this, he started by filming on his phone last thing at night and first thing in the morning, his worst and best times of the day. This hand-held recording captured the intensity and intimacy he was after but the quality was poor. These monologues would develop into the core of his film, but Rob went on to experiment with a higher quality SLR camera and time-lapse photography to provide other layers to his narrative of self-portraiture.


Fran’s project is especially, and inevitably, indebted to technology. She uses Eyegaze, an eye-operated communication system, to speak having lost the ability to use her own voice due to Motor Neurone Disease. But, as she pointed out in our first workshop, this computer-generated voice has no emotion. The challenge, then, for her and her aspiring-filmmaker son, Louis, was about how to fulfil Fran’s wish to convey her feelings about her diagnosis and the implications for her family.

During a workshop that they attended together, Fran and Louis were introduced to the idea of using old photographs as a backdrop to storytelling. This proved a fruitful way for the family to engage with the project and to gather material that, together with footage taken by Louis, would become the visual accompaniment to the text that Fran wrote. The film was a collaboration between mother and son. Fran and Louis worked mostly independently: Fran on the script and Louis filming and editing.


Keen to learn new things, Keisha was determined to take part in the project. Like some of the other participants, however, she found the process of filming and being filmed more exposing than she had anticipated. As a result, it took time to find the tools that suited her and allowed her to say what she wanted to say and in a way that was both comfortable and authentic.

Interested, originally, in conveying her particular perspective as she moved through her world in a wheelchair, a GoPro seemed the ideal tool for her to either wear or attach to her chair. However, it proved too fiddly to mount or film with. Alternative solutions were required: the familiarity of her smart phone camera was revived through a Samsung tablet, and its intimacy through a high quality sound recorder to provide audio.

A variety of technologies enabled Keisha to capture a range of her ideas and perspectives, and these have been worked together for the exhibition.


Peter’s approach to the project was shaped by his long-term love of both hiking and photography. He was clear from the start that his film would be focused on these, and on invoking a sense of what he most missed doing now. He recorded a voice-over and edited it together with his selection of photographs he had taken in the past to create a slideshow of landscapes that have influenced his character and offered him sustenance throughout his life. No longer being able to visit them, this film serves as a tribute to what they have given him. Unlike most of the other films in the exhibition, Peter recorded and edited his film independently.