Two Sussex students are filming a documentary about the proposed cuts at the university. Carl Salton-Cox, a first-year history and film student, and Kit Bradshaw, a politics student, want to examine the cuts from a human angle, looking at specific individuals and the feelings evoked by the management’s proposals, which would see the elimination of courses, services, and over 100 jobs.
The students intend to present a reasoned perspective on both sides of the cuts, for and against, rather than engaging in the sort of visual polemic that filmmakers like Michael Moore use in their films.
“We’re not trying to be particularly partisan or Marxist about it,” Salton-Cox said. “I’m a Marxist, but Kit is a Conservative, so we’re coming from different perspectives.”
The pair, both from Sidcup in Bexley, are childhood friends. They have made films before as teenagers, including a drama about sexuality and self-harm called “The Only Release.” Their second film, “Shoots Her,” won an award at the Rob Knox Film Festival, renamed in memoriam of the young actor who was stabbed to death in Bexley in 2008.
“We’ve never made a documentary before – our experience is with drama, so we’re going for more emotive because that’s how we construct a film,” Salton-Cox said. “But we know that costs have to be cut, and we want to be fair to both sides. If the management are right, the film should show that.”
Their plan for the film is to ask questions of students and staff and then present these questions to the senior management, juxtaposing the arguments in context with each other. However, the two students have had some difficulty speaking with the management, and say they have only recently received replies to their emails requesting interviews.
Many members of staff are hesitant to speak to them too, which Salton-Cox attributes to an “atmosphere of fear” on the campus.
“It’s weird—people in the history department used to be in the hallways chatting to each other. Now it’s just silence.”
The students are aware of the reluctance staff have about speaking out and have considered conducting private interviews, which would then be transcripted and voiced by actors in order to preserve the anonymity of staff concerned for their jobs.
The two undergraduates hope to present a well-rounded perspective on the cuts and the Stop the Cuts campaign, but worry that this will prove difficult with the management and staff unable or unwilling to be interviewed.
“We can’t be objective if the management won’t talk to us.”