Brooding Short Film Documents the Beauty of Abandoned London
'Fading' unveils the overlooked and neglected corners of a thriving metropolis.
All images courtesy the artists
Vehicles race through darkness in one scene. In another, a crane towers over the industrial landscape. A camera focuses on an abandoned mattress propped against a graffiti-covered garage. Directed by filmmakers Liam Healy and Joe Wilson, Fading is a beautifully shot short film presenting forgotten and forsaken corners of London. With a piano score composed by Prayers playing in the background, the film unveils the unorthodox beauty of areas steeped in poverty—often overlooked, neglected, and virtually forgotten.
As Fading's makers, Healy and Wilson, tell Creators, "The idea behind Fading was to travel through the forgotten and peripheral parts of London documenting what we found. These areas of London are often associated with isolation, poverty, and crime, and we wanted to highlight the fact that these places can have a hidden beauty and a sense of community that often runs deeper than surface appearance."
Whilst producing Fading, Healy and Wilson explored South London, speaking to locals and "filming on the fly."
"It's not something we overly planned, and that's part of the enjoyment for us. We both enjoy working instinctively and with that, there's a sense of adrenaline and excitement due to the unknown and potential failure of a project," Healy and Wilson explain. "This approach can be frustrating but can also lead to discoveries that bring a project to life. For example, the Excalibur estate in Catford is an incredibly unique place made up of post-World War II prefabricated homes. Many of the buildings are boarded up and destroyed due to asbestos, but in spite of this obvious difficulty, there is this still deep sense of community spirit and defiance against the situation that's put up against the residents. We used mixed formats in the making of the video, experimenting to find the best medium for a certain feeling or emotion we wished to convey. We replicated state style CCTV and used home video cameras, as well as grainy black and white film and digital cameras to give the feeling of found footage pieced together to form an outside observer's idea of a place, almost nostalgic in form."
Although exposing a world full of difficulty and oppression, Fading illustrates that there is still vitality and hope to be found. "The film has no obvious narrative, instead we wanted the video to act as a space for contemplation and reflection, which was helped by originally approaching the video from a purely live visuals manner," Healy and Wilson say. "We wanted to take the idea of dystopia—an imagined society characterized by human misery, squalor, and oppression—and prove that this isn't the only story when looking at these places. A person's connection to their environment, even if only tiny, can add much more significance."
Many of the objects within the film are cleverly chosen visual clues of human encounters from the past. "Although the burnt out car indicates a potential criminal link, you can't help but wonder about the story behind it or the sense of excitement of the people who caused it might have had," Healy and Wilson say. "The isolated figures at the end are a bleak reminder that even during our most mundane moments, we are likely being watched, somewhere."