A week can pass by without you ever once having to consider yourself. Working, studying, commitments and friendship obligations jumble together and blur, rolling time forward, sometimes immemorably but certainly. But at the end of the week, all of that preamble gets washed away.
A 21-year-old will have lived through over a thousand Sundays in their life. Stripped of responsibilities, how, where, and with whom this time is spent is as realistic a reflection of self as it is aspirational. When no-one is looking, and your whole life left to be the person in your mind’s eye, how would you spend a day? This premise is what drove the makers of a new mini-documentary trilogy A Sunday Series, a production by Joao Malhado and Poppy Ashton. Selecting participants, director Joao and producer Poppy the duo selected three artists who embodied all of the anticipation and optimism and potential they envisioned for the series. After reaching out to Milly Toomey (known as GIRLI), Amber-Simone and Kimmy Beatbox, we arrived with the sun early on three Sundays across London to spend a day filming with each of them. The resulting shorts are a sincere, truthful study of three separate stars on the rise out of the spotlight.
The locations for the shoots couldn’t have varied more in a 20-mile radius. We followed a skateboarding GIRLI zipping past suits and buildings at Canary Wharf, pink hair flashing in a patchwork of grey. Following Kimmy’s rhythmic steps through crowded Shoredtich streets was like being swept in a current, she carried herself so easily. Around Hemel Hempstead, where Amber lives, we walked with her and her dogs in scenery befitting of an 18th century classic.
The resulting footage’s contrast is representative of each artist and their individual take on the message of the series, but they slip easily into the Director’s vision. The series of images captured alongside the films by Beatriz Oliveira give an insight into the personality of the films and the subjects, three women who have been taken somewhere on the path to finding themselves creatively – and who make ruminative, attentive and generous hosts to guests of their worlds.
The overwhelming pull of the capital in creative fields could mean that for a young musician hoping to turn their talent into a career, a home outside of London can become a ballast of bricks and mortar. But as she shows us in A Sunday Series, Amber-Simone enjoys the distance her familial base in Hemel Hempstead offers, both physically and mentally. “I typically wouldn’t go into town [on a Sunday]. Those days are just about chilling out and sometimes working, sometimes making music when that impulse strikes but it’s not something that’s like… I’m not someone who particularly wants to be seen everywhere. I get to dip in and out.” Historically speaking, Amber is capable of making serious headways without a tube stop outside her door. During her short career she has a UK tour with pals Franc Moody under her belt, not to mention 5 nights supporting John Legend at the O2 arena. “My sixth ever show was the O2 Arena. It was really sick, [one of] those little moments of gratification that are like, ok to be here – I’m not signed, I’m not big, no one really knows my songs – I must be doing something right.” It was much needed validation in a journey that’s been far from easy. Creative differences with her previous management caused self-doubt, insecurity, and eventually led to a termination of their partnership. “I didn’t feel like I wanted to [sing] anymore. I didn’t feel like my opinions were particularly valued and that anything that I was put out there wasn’t a good enough idea. I started to feel like I don’t really feel like I’m good at this because no one wants to put my music out.” The situation was worsened by her close relationship with them, but as the film shows, Amber now is at peace. “It was like a breakup. I felt like I could breathe again and do what I wanted, but at the same time I lost a friend, which is sad, and I feel like it’s taken for me to mature a little bit to understand both sides of that in terms of a personal sense and a professional sense. With any relationship as a person you’re growing anyway, you’re constantly learning, you’re constantly developing and learning more about yourself as an individual. People are they going to grow with you or they’re not. Your ideas will change, and sometimes other people’s ideas will stay the same as they were when yours allied with them, and other people will evolve with you. It’s just one of those things, but I feel a lot happier now.”
All three episodes of A Sunday Series are end-of-the-week viewing, equally pleasing films that provoke viewers to reflect on all there is to be thankful for in their own lives. Next up, press play on Amber-Simone below now and follow her on Instagram here…
10 March 2019