Stuart is a filmmaker and video producer from England, an interviewer, and a massive music fan. One of the founders of Hatched-MV, a music video and documentary production duo, Stuart has supported the Mitrovica Rock School by producing the video for Proximity Mine’s Set Me Free, and is now working on the feature documentary Music Connects: The Real School of Rock.
We decided to turn the tables and interview him during this training week and see how this project has impacted him, both professionally and personally.
So why did you come here this week?
I saw it was an important week to be here because Enterprise and Roma Rock School were coming to Mitrovica and that meant something for the film.
How does it feel to be a man behind the camera here? Is it any different from interviewing people in the UK, for example?
I must say that the welcome I get here is the biggest welcome I get anywhere. Like, Ruud came and gave me a big hug, Casper too, everyone came and greeted me when I first turned up. That never happens, I’m not used to those things, so that was very nice.
I’m growing and developing as a filmmaker I would say, especially with Music Connects, because now I’m having conversations and interviewing while filming, so it’s double the challenge, both mentally and technically, and the trickiest thing is keeping the camera straight! I’m basically not looking that much through the camera’s viewfinder during this process, just a quick check and adjust now and again.
The film making process is about trust, becoming friends with people.
What are some of the most common things you hear people say when you interview them?
I don’t think anyone says something similar because they all have their tales and stories and angles to talk to me. I think I try and make everyone feel at ease without the camera. And that helps connect with the person when I happen to have the camera and say “Hey, do you have five minutes to talk?”
With a project like this, the film making process is not filming everything, but it’s about trust, becoming friends with people. Some people said some really nice things and they seem comfortable so they talk freely, they’re saying what they want to say, so I don’t often hear the same thing.
Were there any culture shocks for you here?
No, but I can understand there would be for some people. As some of the band coaches have said “We see everyone as a human being in front of us” and I try to get their perspective on this experience participating in the project.
As some of the band coaches have said “We see everyone as a human being in front of us” and I try to get their perspective on this experience participating in the project.
This is one of the good things going on.
What’s your opinion on the project as a whole and what does it represent to you, being kind of indirectly involved in it?
I feel like I’m a little part of it because I’m documenting it, it means a lot to me. I say to people “This is my most important project I’m doing right now and I’m doing around ten projects”, but, you know, it’s something connected to people’s lives. What I do will hopefully make a difference further down the road and hopefully help the continuation of this project, wherever it may go.
How about people you met? Do you think you’ve made some lifelong friendships, and are you generally satisfied with the people you met throughout this whole project?
It’s hard to define what a lifelong friendship is when you haven’t lived a long life, but I think even this particular trip, I really connected with Ruud, and before I hadn’t connected with him on such a personal level. And that’s the thing about this documentary, you kind of connect with different people as you go through the process. You could say in person and on various filming occasions I’m making friends with new people, with and without my camera, and also online. I’ve connected with Eefje online on Instagram and we’ve talked about music and I’ve listened to her music online, so online and offline friendships have been built, possibly lifelong ones.
So, this is all about rock music, right? Are you a fan of it yourself?
Yeah, my best friend is a Green Day fan. The last thing that was on my Spotify playlist was 90s rock classics. I’m also totally into this new Roma sound. I feel privileged to be part of something that is totally brand new. Roma music from this community combined with a more Western approach creates some crazy sound. I hope they become really well known, I heard they’re getting theory education, so that’s a great thing.
In some of your interviews, you asked people why did they choose rock music. Why do you think they choose it?
The answer seems to be that this area is very connected to traditional kind of rock music sound. It was a working class area, mining area if I’m correct, life is not easy here. Rock seems to be the sound of the people. I think people want to reignite what was lost in the war from what I’m hearing. Mitrovica used to be a rock city, I hear that all the time.
What’s your opinion on Mitrovica in general, being here for the second time?
It’s a very unusual place, a beautiful place, a charming place… People are very lovely here. Me being this kind of English guy swimming around, people are very nice to me wherever I go, and I know it’s not the same for everybody.
I hope that bridge can become free one day, free of armed police and Italian police officers, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen so soon.
I think you have to come here to experience it. You can talk and talk about this place to friends and family who have never been here, but as you walk across the bridge and get the feeling for how it is for the people on either side, you do hope that this bridge can become free from barricades one day, free of 24/7 armed police, but I’m not sure it’s going to happen so soon.
Is there anything particular you wanted to say?
Watch what happens here, listen to the music, give it some time. The Music Connects project is successful. I want people to watch the documentary! I’m not doing this for my own glory, I’m doing it for people to watch it and come here. I’m lucky to come here with a few cameras.
This is part of Europe people don’t quite understand, but it’s a part of mainland Europe and it’s quite a contemporary topic right now.
I think it’s important to see this film because this is part of Europe people don’t quite understand still, but it’s a part of mainland Europe and it’s quite a contemporary topic right now. So why not see something real and authentic going on?
I always ask people to give their final message
Check the videos, share the videos, talk about the videos. If you’re in Mitrovica, get involved. This is one of the good things going on.