A long awaited record deal dangles before Katie. At the tender age of just nineteen, she’s snatching at the glimmer of hope with all she’s got; but pouring all her passion into this one shot to get signed is neglecting the other aspects of her life. She’s so hungry to succeed – continuously carving away at herself until she sculpts perfection. Her disdain for mediocrity will eventually hammer her fellow band members into brilliance too, but at what cost to their relationship with her?
Child in Their Eyes tells the invigorating story of persistence, as a young musician faces the trials of penetrating the independent music scene. She’s talented – but the music industry is cut throat, and full of exploitation, especially for a young woman. If she ever reaches the light at the end of the tunnel, is she just destined to become another musical commodity?
Listen to the soundtrack from the film through Spotify.
The Making of Child in Their Eyes
Written by Adam Laudus
When one describes a person as precocious, it can be meant as a compliment, a warning, or usually a bit of both. The protagonist in Ivan Madeira’s Child in their Eyes certainly encapsulates this duality, and upon discussion with the two main cast members and the writer/ director, adds a third dimension to the mix. That of gender. When Ivan told me he wanted to write a film with a strong female lead, I wasn’t expecting the character of Katie, who lights up the short film he eventually created, to be so divisive. Accepting that she’s young and can change; I found her rude and arrogant, though others saw this as driven.
When I asked Alex Da Silva who plays Katie whether she would work with someone like her in real life, I was surprised that her answer included the caveat “if Katie were a man, I don’t think you’d be asking me this question.” Ivan, Katie’s creator, agreed “I love Katie. I love she’s strong, she’s hard headed, she doesn’t compromise her view when she believes she’s right.” I suppose it’ll be down to the individual viewer what they decide, but whatever the character leaves you with, you’re going to have enjoyed experiencing this vignette of creativity Ivan, his cast and musicians have brought to life.
A Londoner (well, Norwood, but we won’t hold that against him) Ivan’s primary love is music, having come to film making a wee while later, and it was only natural that eventually he’d fuse the two. Child in their Eyes has a very London feel, in both its setting and the musical style. Ivan first drew inspiration to write the script from a trip to the cinema, to see the heavily praised Whiplash “when the final hit crash reverberated through the cinema, I had a surge of adrenaline running through me. I literally left the Brixton Ritzy cinema skipping down the street. I had so much energy from watching that, and that made me so inspired as a film maker. It was one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time. As a pure dramatic film with a strong musical element, it was my heaven.” This perfect storm of musical talent and creativity is something that should be echoed in Child in their Eyes -having been on set I can assure you, even to my tone deaf ears the performance was astounding and the drama palpable.
The cast agreed that the London settings and music blended; “perfect, exactly how I pictured it when reading the script” (James) and, “as for location, I’m a Londoner through and through, and my favourite place in this city is Waterloo/ the Southbank area, so it was great to be in the hub of all things creative.” (Alex) The studios filmed and recorded in were Alaska studios, tucked away in a railway arch opposite Waterloo station, and an easy place to settle in to. It felt homely and creative at once, and the crew were really thankful to be allowed the space they were, not least make-up artist (and super sharp continuity spotter) Cassi, who did some beautiful work on the cast and band members. Fab, the guitarist, will probably never live the 90’s curtains he was given down. James however, “would put money on him making a secret, slightly shameful purchase of straighteners within hours of the shoot.”
Somewhat sadly, this lovely little space of London music and creativity is being made to move. It probably comes as no surprise but the studios will have to go elsewhere, as yet uncertain, so that housing can be put in. While I understand the fiscal reward for such moves, and the demand for housing, as a Lewisham boy I stand firmly of the opinion that if transport were improved, we wouldn’t have to put up with the ruination of London’s history and culture just so that the well-off can live fifty feet from the office. I put this to the cast and Ivan who roughly agreed “I also don’t agree that having our creative spaces being torn down for housing is a good thing as part of our rich musical culture of the UK. However, having worked with Shelter as a client with my day job as an IT Consultant, we need to build more houses and more affordable social houses. Now we know, Waterloo being central, it’s not going to be that. It’s going to be something that can bring in the maximum return on investment for the backers. As anything good in London loses its uniqueness and turns into a homogenous pot, what will happen to these creative spaces?” James could, “think of a million other buildings/ locations for it”, a nice sentiment but good luck, James! Alex wanted, “affordable” housing in the area but summed up my feelings for Alaska, “It’s a shame, because the place has so much life and character. The studio became a home over the three days we were shooting and you could really feel the sense of community from those working there.”
I got the impression Ivan has had to pull a few strings to get Child in their Eyes made, not least purse strings- his own- apart. However, the set was about as chilled out a set as I’ve ever been or worked on (I have honestly seen a representative from a food giant throw a monstrous tantrum because their potato product wasn’t being eaten correctly by a child actor) and the actors and all those involved were there for the story, and for Ivan. Alex agreed the shoot went, “really well! We all had a lot of fun, but managed to keep to a really tight schedule (which has never happened to me on a shoot before)!” Whilst for James, “working with Ivan was the incentive”. The director is a friend of mine so it’s no secret to say I like the man, but I’d never seen him work creatively before and there’s a calmness and geniality to his direction which meant that even when we were behind at certain points, Simon, the production manager, and I were shrugging and saying “Ah they’ll make it back this afternoon.” And they always did.
Initially, as explained in my opening paragraph, I had thought the dramatic element and what I had perceived as caustic temperament of Katie would be what people thought would be most talked about. It shows the depth of what the film has to offer that this was not the case, though Ivan did accept that “whatever stands out is a personal point of view… The theme of having to work hard, and almost isolate yourself sometimes if you’re trying to really crack something that feels near impossible you have to have that sense of self belief and determination which could seem a little obsessive.” James likes the interactive element of the music with it “being so integral (and something you can download) is very cool.” While Alex sees a hopeful, positive finish “The end of the film is wonderful. Not to give too much away… and, if only for a second, you get to see the softer side of Katie. I think it’s a beautiful moment, and will hopefully leave viewers with a smile on their faces.”