HULL FREEDOM TRAIL (hullfreedomtrail.com) follows 24 people from Hull in the UK who embarked on an anti-slavery campaign. They drove five 4×4 vehicles to Sierra Leone where they donated the trucks to humanitarian organizations that focus on anti-trafficking.
HULL FREEDOM TRAIL was inspired by William Wilberforce, a British Member of Parliament who initiated the abolition of slavery in 1807. Unfortunately, slavery remains a major issue in the 21st Century. According to Anti-Slavery-International more than 12 million people are still trapped in slavery world-wide. This scandal certainly is linked to the dramatic increase of extreme poverty, which opens the doors to exploitation in sex-slavery and other forms of bound labour. Raising awareness about these issues is a major goal of Hull Freedom Trail.
My involvement with HFT was a result of my camera work on the Long Way Round and Long Way Down series where I filmed the motorbike journeys of actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. They combined their expedition with insights into Unicef’s child protection projects. Johnathan Richards, the initiator of the HFT project wanted to do something similar about modern day slavery. He called me and immediately I was interested.
Hull Freedom Trail was more difficult to film than Long Way Round or Long Way Down. First, I didn’t have professional actors in front of the camera but had to find my key characters within a group of 24 ordinary people. Second, there was no production crew of 12 people behind me and, therefore, I filmed, directed and produced the entire show on my own. Third, I had a miniscule budget because a TV commission wasn’t secured before the beginning of the expedition.
Despite all the limitations of the HFT production I’m extremely proud of this film. It was a great opportunity to combine the entertainment value of the West Africa adventure with the serious issue of modern day slavery. Of course I only scratched the surface of slavery in the 21st Century. We could have done much more with the larger budget of a proper TV commission. However, considering the restrictions, I’m very pleased about the results. I wish more of my commissioned films would offer as much purpose as Hull Freedom Trail.