Renowned independent magazine and maker community ‘We Are Makers’ have launched a brand new Kickstarter campaign in March 2022 to fund their documentary, set for release in April. Named ’An Honest Representation of the Modern Maker,’ the documentary is an episodic accompaniment to their popular bi-annual publication. Their new feature length documentary has a total of 25 hours of footage and has been planned to be a total of 9 episodes and beyond. The Kickstarter aims to fund the completion of episode one of the series but also start episode two – a huge undertaking across editing and travelling.
Founded by publishers (and co-directors) Kate & Jack Lennie, ‘We Are Makers’ is an established community and network of makers from across the globe. Found within their advert-free magazine pages and strong online presence are stories from these makers, providing a platform for them to promote their crafts. Bringing this into a documentary format helps “gives the viewer an insight into varied aspects of the business of making,” the press release (PR) notes. It also credits makers Lucy MacDonald (Arra Textiles), Sam Cooper and Richard Platt (Marchmont Workshop) and Cecilia Stamp (Cecilia Stamp Jewellery) as featuring in the pilot episode.
By introducing us to these hard-working creatives, we visually step into each maker’s life. “We discover their very personal motivations, individual struggles, and triumphs big and small,” the release notes. “We get a glimpse into the making process and a sense of what it entails to build a brand and a name for oneself as an independent maker. There are daily challenges to face down and overcome, both in the intricacies of the craft itself and in terms of the bigger picture: how to make a creative living amid a throwaway culture. Striving to produce original work by hand and in small batches flies in the face of accepted ideas about high-volume, low-cost manufacture.”
Delving into the stars of episode one, each of the makers have been previously featured in the magazine. Arra Textiles was featured in edition one is a hand weaving design studio in Aberdeenshire run by Lucy MacDonald. After studying Design for Textiles in Scotland and Finland, Lucy founded Arra in 2016 and has since become an exciting base for creativity. She notes on her site, “I work with all natural fibres as sustainability and traceability are both important to me and have become strong themes found throughout my work.” This past year has seen Lucy branch into developing large scale, more ambitious work which, “bends more towards bespoke installations,” she notes. A collaboration with Bristol Weaving Mill has allowed Lucy to design and produce a vibrant collection of affordable, accessible range of woven scarves and blankets, all celebrating the “joy of colour.”
Over at the Scottish borders, Marchmont Workshop is working on handcrafted chairs. Sam and Richard (as interviewed in the trailer for the docu-series) set up Marchmont as the first new facility making traditional rush-seated chairs to open in 54 years.” As noted in the trailer, legacy is an important adjoinment to what they do – with generation after generation being able to enjoy the chairs and the pieces coming from Marchmont. The heritage of their craft is noted on the timeline piece on their website, but as apprentices of Lawrence Neal, a master craftsman in his own right – both Sam and Richard have continued to make chairs following his traditional lineage and style ever since.
But it’s not until we meet Cecilia Stamp that we see how Modernism is inspiring current crafting techniques. Inspired by abstract forms from this period, Cecilia works to produce contemporary jewellery from her studio in Glasgow. Cecilia had previously studied Jewellery & Silversmithing at Edinburgh College of Art and further study for a MDes in printed textiles at the School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels. Her eloquent pieces combine traditional craft processes including vitreous enamel, resin, wax carving and silversmithing. You can meet these eclectic set of creatives in episode one of the documentary, which gives an insight into their processes, inspirations and everyday lives. The Kickstarter reads, “while each maker’s story is unique, the episode weaves together the common threads into a cohesive narrative that touches on the struggles as well as the successes.”
The team behind the documentary include Kate and Lennie as Co-Directors/Producers, Danny Bonnar as Director of Photography/Co-Director, Guy Satchwell as Sound Technician, and Robbie Tighe on Marketing/Photography. “Having the opportunity to be part of Kate and Jack’s project bringing “We Are Makers” to the screen has been a joy,” Sound Technician Guy Satchwell says. “As an old hand in the TV game, I have developed a highly cynical view of content that I am often asked to help produce.” He continues, “We Are Makers will bring the exceptional into your living room. Makers from around the world, evolving their inherited and often culturally localised skills and using new skills and technologies to complement traditional methods, always bringing a little much-needed beauty into the world, always creating, always making.”
“Kate and Jack of We Are Makers approached me about turning the publication into a docu-series, and as we talked, I saw how interesting and enjoyable a project this could be. The opportunity to dive into the processes and inspirations of makers around the world was something that instantly appealed to me creatively.”
Danny Bonnar, Director of Photography
Currently at issue 3, ‘We Are Makers’ also introduces the brand new issue four of their magazine via Kickstarter. It includes pledge levels to purchase a copy of the new issue – currently in production. Magazine lovers can buy the new issue at a special price only found on Kickstarter as well as support the documentary through the various pledge types. The success of the campaign will enable the docu-series to bring a final edit of episode one to fruition, but also kick-off episode two in the series – covering expenses such as travel, equipment and of course funding the small crew itself. The campaign is aiming to raise a total of £16,500 by April 5th and includes a Pledge to purchase a ticket to the live premiere of the pilot episode. Held at the Scotsman Picturehouse in Edinburgh, this exclusive opportunity for backers will be the first showing of the documentary, and are extremely limited. The package includes copies 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the magazine, a Behind the Scenes (BTS) photo book, a welcoming drink and will have the chance to meet the makers and film crew in person. Along with digital streaming access only pledges, streaming and magazine with the BTS book, there are multiple options of support available. There’s even a 5 hour workshop with featured maker Lucy from Arra Textiles. The campaign reads, “You’ll learn a little theory on weaving techniques and structures, design a weft based colour pattern, then work on a pre-setup four shaft table loom to bring your bespoke creation to life!”