T A P E was founded in 2015 as a response to the lack of representation on screen; wanting to platform and highlight the variety of under-served films out there. Founded by Angie Moneke and Isra Al Kassi and joined by Nellie Alston in 2017, meeting through the Barbican Young Programmers scheme. T A P E decided to bring exciting screenings to new audiences, championing the forgotten could-be cult films of the festival circuit and programmes filled with work by women of colour, both behind and in front of the camera.
Over the years T A P E have curated a number of well-rounded screenings bringing together film, art, music, talks and more into one space and events with a focus on representation, identity and heritage. T A P E has also produced two zine issues: the first one called They Thought We Were Token, and the second issue, Moon Sisters, released six months later.
In 2020 T A P E were able to launch an online cinema platform, Good Wickedry, which is driven by carefully considered curation, cutting through the noise of excessive content by highlighting one great thing at a time, showing one film per week.
Platforming of BIPOC and female filmmakers is also of especial importance to the team. By showcasing these pieces and showing that there is a different, inclusive and diverse film industry out there, T A P E are revolutionising cinema.
We caught up with Angie, Isra and Nellie to hear more about T A P E and how they are building a more nuanced picture of our cinematic world.
How did T A P E collective start?
T A P E was founded by us, Angie Moneke and Isra Al Kassi, and we were joined by Nellie Alston in 2017. We met through the Barbican Young Programmers initiative and started scheming about cutting out a space for ourselves in South London, with stories we felt had been left untold by and for an audience who looked more like us. And so T A P E was launched as a response to that lack of representation on screen, with us wanting to platform and highlight the sheer variety of under-served films we know are out there. We decided to bring exciting screenings to new audiences, championing the forgotten could-be cult films of the festival circuit and programmes of women of colour both behind and in front of the camera. Basically we wanted to share films and art that we’re excited by with an audience in intimate, vibey, alternative spaces.
Since T A P E Collective was formed in 2015, what changes have you witnessed within the film industry?
In hindsight people didn’t really know what we were trying to do six years ago – it came across as so different and almost provocative in its ways and there was little scope for a larger conversation. Nevertheless we continued hosting our events, the only way we knew how to – low key, and for small audiences who understood what we were about. There are more conversations in the industry now about diversity, inclusion and representation and certainly more ‘diversity’ initiatives and schemes, but we can’t say that we’re seeing much impactful change made by those at the top – instead the most meaningful changes are made by small collectives and organisations doing a lot of the work.
Tokenism and delegitimisation are still very real issues. It’s important for people of colour and marginalised groups to feel empowered, to see and be seen – and that means recognition, platform, funding, all of these things are necessary. But it’s been great to see this growth in individuals and collectives like us creating, shining a light on work we admire and generally supporting each other. Collaboration is such a big deal for us so it’s great to push the envelope on these progressive communal spaces.
You were recently named by DAZED magazine as one of the collectives radically rethinking the cinema scene – how does this feel? How important is this to reshape the conversation and have underrepresented voices heard in film and the wider cultural conversation?
We were! It was very exciting, and life affirming, and it really felt good that we were being recognised and not just us screaming into a vacuum, but actually the conversations we’ve sparked over the years, and the films and filmmakers we’ve platformed are being seen. As it is, the way the cinema industry functions now doesn’t work for us, in terms of our place and underrepresented voices in cinema. So we’re trying to reshape it to the best of our ability. The changes we want to see aren’t minimal or subtle, they’re a full restructure of everything from how films get made to the model of distribution/exhibition, and while we continue to have that conversation on a wider level we also take comfort in knowing that we have each other and T A P E and hope that frustrated audience members and filmmakers from our community will find us and work with us.
How have T A P E collective got through the last year?
While all of our events would usually have been in person, ambitious cross-arts events with a healthy dose of socialising, we still think our community lives largely online and staying connected has been very important.
We’re grateful that, thanks to Brixton Village Lates and Handson Family, we managed to host a physical screening around in October last year with social distancing and other restrictions in place. We also hosted a photography, art and moving image exhibition called “Ceremony” in Beckenham Place Mansion that same week. Lockdown also gave us the opportunity to rethink our priorities and to remind ourselves of our commitment to T A P E – it saw us seeing T A P E as more than a side-hustle and more of sustainable and self-sufficient organisation.
What does a day working at T A P E collective look like?
We all have other jobs as well and are running T A P E passionately alongside our other commitments, but we check in with each other everyday and have ongoing conversations about opportunities, films we should check out, ideas for public events and partners we should collaborate with. Or even just linking up in our group chat – depending on how sophisticated we’re feeling at the time we could be texting about anything from what’s in store for cinemas post-lockdown to Marvel thirst-traps on Insta. But we’re constantly talking and plotting. Any funds we have are currently going to paying writers, filmmakers and the cost of running the website. Normalising remote working and delivering T A P E through the Whatsapp and Zoom methods of project planning has really made co-working from a distance much easier.
During October last year, you were part of the scheduling at Brixton Village’s pop-up film festival, Crossover, how did you approach the films you showed?
With major films like Candyman (directed by Nia Da Costa) set to be released this year, and Jordan Peele revitalising conversations around race relations through Get Out and US, we wanted to throw it back to one of the earlier films to so viscerally explore race, injustice and trauma through horror. Tales from the Hood (1995), written & directed by Rusty Cundieff and exec-produced by Spike Lee, is an anthology film where six intertwining vignettes explore horror folklore through the lens of real-lived experiences of Black people (specifically in America, but there’s definitely some resonance to Black communities all over) and it just so happened to have had its 25th anniversary last year. We also opened up submissions which explored the theme of “Wicked Imagery”: films which tackled the exploration of trauma in their shorts, including the very powerful I’ll believe it when I see it by Boldieaintaboy.
We know that making films has become possible on smaller budgets, indeed these days we can even use our phones. But what advice would you have for aspiring filmmakers, around how best to get their films seen and distributed?
Our advice is to strike a balance between the structures and procedures in place, while being true and unapologetic to your craft and identity as a filmmaker. There are many more platforms now than just a year ago, so do your research, be realistic but ambitious about the content you create and where it sits in the market. Based on where you’d like the trajectory of your film to go make a decision on whether you submit to a festival, a streaming platform, or a wider cinematic release. Watch as many films as you can to make yourself aware of what’s out there and what inspires you, look for inspiration in unusual places, experiment and have fun, make something rubbish and then make something better. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there whether there is a call out or not. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but don’t accept other people not taking you seriously – believe in your sauce!
What are your hopes and fears for the film industry in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis? And how do you think its effect has impacted specifically on womxn of colour within the industry?
When it comes to cinema, it’s not just about the content and themes explored – how we access films is just as important. Films are often a reflection of our lived experiences and so a shared sense of social consciousness should be an extension of that. Continued progress is going to be pretty limited if we’re not – as exhibitors, as curators, as audiences – giving certains films due recognition, diversifying our palettes, engaging with cinema from perspectives that include women of colour and LGTBQ+ communities, and showing support through viewership, funding and conversation. Historically, there’s been a gross erasure of films by women and people of colour from what’s viewed as the classical canon. Many of their creative contributions and innovation has been borrowed and eclipsed, uncredited and forgotten. Who even knows the true extent of what we’ve lost. So it’s vital and exciting to see individuals and collectives resurrect some of these works and give them the shine they deserve. We hope that as things reopen this year, we see a fairer distribution of funding and opportunities, and that people make conscientious decisions about where they put down money and support.
How did your streaming platform Good Wickedry come about and what are your aims with this new venture?
For us it was quite a natural transition. Though we curated in-venue events before the pandemic, film is an art form that suits the online sphere really well and this was a space we’d been meaning to increase our activity in, so it was sort of the perfect time. In late summer last year we took the opportunity to launch Good Wickedry, an online cinema platform which creates paid opportunities for emerging filmmakers and writers, showcasing one short film per week in the spirit of considered curation. We wanted to cut through the noise of excessive content by highlighting one great thing at a time through bold and invigorating choices. It’s great having the freedom to programme films of any format without having to give in to rules or quotas on what that programme should look like. We’ve had an influx recently of people submitting new work, and it’s immensely fulfilling to chat to different writers and filmmakers about their shorts and in turn introduce that to new audiences.
How can filmmakers get their content shown on your streaming platform, Good Wickedry?
We are always open for submissions! Filmmakers just need to e-mails us on email@example.com to submit with info about themselves, the cast and crew, a brief quote about the process or story, and a screening link. We are looking to host films that are 20 minutes or shorter and which lend itself to a larger conversation about filmmaking, storytelling and representation. We are also open for pitches to our blog from writers – and both opportunities are paid.
What are you currently working on?
There’s quite a lot going on – we’ve got a new Good Wickedry film coming out every week and are building up our written content. We are also working on a cross-arts festival which explores identity and heritage more explicitly in film, literature and art which we’re really excited about but can’t quite reveal all details yet though – keep an eye out for when the details drop. We are also in pre-production with two short films, in post with one, and developing a short film script with a brilliant writer/director.
What should we all be watching right now?
Other than Good Wickedry, we want to remind everyone that cinemas and collectives have shuffled their activities online, most recently we’ve enjoyed watching Poly Styrene I Am A Cliche which is available online and features Brixton, and Numbi Arts speaking on the importance Poly Styrene played in representation in music and pop culture. We also loved Dead Pigs, and it was incredible to see what can come out from debut directors and to see Cathy Yan’s work before she made Birds Of Prey on Mubi.
Angela Moneke started as a researcher for factual television programmes broadcast on Channel 4 and BBC Three, before moving on to Working Title Films where she currently works as in-house Production Coordinator, covering the feature film and TV slate. She is also a Producer under new film group, MONEGRAM, primarily focusing on a short film slate developed with emerging writers.
Isra Al Kassi previously ran her own community space for self-employed artists and has many years of experience in event management and small businesses & artist support. She’s an aspiring writer and was previously the Events Co-ordinator and Marketing Manager at Ritzy Picturehouse, and more recently the Programme and Marketing manager at Really Local Group overseeing all marketing and event/cinema programming for Catford Mews and future sites.
Nellie Alston has a passion for film and theatre, and is a Sales and Distribution Executive for National Theatre Live. She has a keen interest in programming and has also worked for London Film Festival (Shorts Programme), London Short Film Festival, East End and Film Africa.
Watch Good Wickedry here and stay up to date on new release on instagram.
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