New Bury Park film 'Made in Luton' takes inspiration from Stacey Dooley and Nadiya Hussain

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“I made this documentary to prove myself - and others - wrong”

An aspiring filmmaker from Bury Park has created a new project that inspires viewers to follow their dreams.

Sonia Chowdhury created ‘Made in Luton’ with the support of Hidden Tiger Films and a commission from Revoluton Arts. The film will be screened at a free premiere on Monday, October 30, from 6pm to 8pm at the Centre for Youth and Community Development in Bury Park.

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The film explores real stories of people pursuing their individual passions in Bury Park. Inspiration came from Sonia’s attempt to prove to herself that anything is possible, and it is possible in her hometown of Luton.

Sonia Chowdhury is an aspiring filmmaker from Bury Park, Luton.Sonia Chowdhury is an aspiring filmmaker from Bury Park, Luton.
Sonia Chowdhury is an aspiring filmmaker from Bury Park, Luton.

Sonia said: "At school I picked Media and Drama as GCSEs and whilst I loved acting, I felt that there were not enough plays or films out there for me. Stories felt limited and I wanted to add more. I was forever pointing at the TV screen with suggestions on how I think the story should have panned out.

“I continued to pursue media at degree level and knew then I wanted a career in showcasing stories: be it via screenwriting, documentary making or filmmaking. I think films are a powerful tool for telling meaningful stories whilst still providing entertainment.”

She added: “I went on a journey and made this documentary to prove myself – and others – wrong. I used to think opportunities and development programmes like Revoluton Arts only existed in big cities, but they supported me in creating this documentary, all whilst nurturing my talent and craft.”

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The project took some inspiration from Luton-born documentary maker and author, Stacey Dooley. Sonia said: “I remember watching a Stacey Dooley documentary on Luton, her hometown, which was the first time I had ever seen my town spoken about for good things, on TV. I was pleasantly surprised to see someone from Luton present a show. It helped me to realise what I wanted to do in my career.

“In the years after that, there have been many people from Luton who have gone on to inspire me, including Nadiya Hussain who now presents a Cooking Show on BBC. All these people have a lot of charisma, which personally I think has a lot to do with Luton.”

Sonia believes that Bury Park has a rich culture and community. Sonia said: “Growing up in Bury Park was full of life. There were big wedding parties that went out into the streets, lots of shopping, and of course, Luton Town Football club celebrations.

"However, it was an area that statistically has a high rate of poverty and as a child, I knew that. I don’t speak for everyone in the neighbourhood, but in my personal experience, I knew that I had to be careful with what I could buy, and going out to the beach or even to the cinema was a treat.”

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She added: “The best part about Bury Park is the growth - and that is the kind of element I wish to show in my film. I am still exploring my career, so it was good to talk to individuals who have achieved their dreams.

"Coming from a culturally rich background but with relatively less than others, it can be disheartening or feel useless to try and pursue your dreams. However, the people in Bury Park can achieve whatever they want.”

To create Made in Luton, Sonia was able to put cameras and tripods in the street. She said: “The people in the community are more than happy to talk and share their stories. I actually had to cut out a lot from the documentary due to timing constraints but would love to do this again and go more in depth as there are so many beautiful stories.”

Sonia’s advice is to ask for help when needed. She said: "I would say that you can work hard for your future, for your family, for your community, and still achieve your goals. It sounds very basic, but you have to get started.

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“You would be surprised but ‘your people’ i.e. the people who share your passions, or the people who understand where you’re coming from - they are here too. Don’t forget to ask for help! There is something for everyone, so don’t hold back - start the process.”

Lindsey Pugh, creative director at Revoluton Arts, said: “We were very excited to commission and support Sonia’s latest film project. Her ideas, determination, and passion are inspiring, and we hope many others like Sonia will be encouraged to get involved in our programme for young creators.”

The Made in Luton project follows on from a number of successful Revoluton Arts commissions, including Museum of Stories – an audio-based project that showcased a range of Bury Park tales.

Lindsey added: "We've been developing projects in Bury Park since we started in 2015 mainly because it has such a great cultural heritage. It's vibrant and full of creativity in a multi-sensory way, from the textiles to the food, the sounds, the people, and their stories. Our work is all about being part of the community, supporting Luton-based creatives to develop projects that both celebrate a place and involve the community.

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"The Made in Luton film and Museum of Stories are two great examples of projects developed in Bury Park that shine a light on the creative energy that’s already there.”

Visit Eventbrite to book tickets for free.

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