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.
In the videos, the artists can be heard overhead reflecting on their days, years, lives, as one tends to on a Sunday with nothing in particular to distract. For Milly Toomey also known as GIRLI, the reality of her viral ascension isn’t always as bright as her wardrobe. Teenagers need room to grow, and Milly feels sometimes people have been unwilling to afford her that. “I started releasing music when I was like 17 and I’m 20 now. That’s such a big change, visually and creatively and personally.” This shoot was a chance for her to step out from any preconceptions harbouring about her: “What people see online – the persona I give off – is me, but it’s just a part of me. The personal side, the Milly part that’s not GIRLI, is something that I don’t think people really know about. I like the idea of showing people what I do when I’m just hanging around, not in that pop world, just in my world.” That world is full of nature, as the film can attest. While she’s always loved to be outside, in the last year the 21-year-old has become connected in a way that she wasn’t before. She identifies as a feminist, and would never measure self-worth through relation to others, however there are some unexpected advantageous side effects of relationships. “I’d never been a girlfriend before, so it was kind of all new to me. I’m seeing a different side to myself, which kind of allowed me to find out other things about myself.” Of those things, some are superficial; she now has a fail-safe pasta bake recipe to use for dinner parties. But some are a little more poignant. “This year has been a big year for realising that my happiness is the most important thing. And my mental health and surrounding myself with good people, not a lot people. And instead of going out all the time, as in clubbing or drinking, just spending more time getting better at things I want to get better at, like playing guitar or production or skating.” A Sunday Series with GIRLI depicts a woman mindfully and consciously shaping out who she wants to be and revelling in the changes she’s making to get there.
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. First up, press play on GIRLI below now and follow her on Instagram here…
3 March 2019