Short films highlight the reality of homelessness in the Covid era
Isy and Leigh Anderson are a couple who work together in Manchester under the name 'Photography by Anderson'. The award-winning duo specialises in portraiture and lifestyle photography and works for creative agencies and big brands. They recently produced two short films about homelessness charity Emmaus in Salford. As Isy tells us, it was a project born out of the peculiar circumstances we all found ourselves in Spring last year.
"2020 was going to be our business's best year yet; then the Pandemic happened," she recalls. "A lot of our work was postponed and then cancelled. We started to think about our situation, and we genuinely worried about paying the mortgage. Almost overnight, along with everybody else within the freelance creative sector, we found ourselves in a very uncertain situation.
"As creatives, we started to think about and connect with this moment in time, and we wanted to produce some work that would make sense of what was going on," she continues. "We'd been wanting to develop the filmmaking side of our practice for a long time and thought this would be the best way to move forward with a new personal project."
Isy remembered hearing Andrew Fowler of Emmaus speak at a breakfast club meeting and reached out to him about the idea of donating their time. Her idea was to produce a series of films that could share the stories of people who have been homeless and raise awareness of the issue. Over six months, they visited Emmaus Salford when Covid-19 restrictions allowed, getting to know, interviewing, and filming people supported by the charity.
Isy and Leigh spoke to people who had lost their homes and businesses as a direct result of the pandemic. "It can happen very quickly," says Isy. "Many people just fall on hard times, suffer a loss, or slip into depression, and they don't have the resources to dig themselves out. Jake, the youngest member of the Emmaus Salford community, put it perfectly: 'You're not a bad person if you're homeless, it's just a bad time in your life'."
"Through witnessing the amazing work the charity does," she adds, "and showing the grit and determination of the people living and working there, we think we've been able to create a very positive and hopeful message for anybody struggling in these uncertain times. Even if you lose everything, it's not the end: you can rebuild."