Handcrafted Films (London, United Kingdom) – The House Clearer

Director: Paul Redman
An established documentary filmmaker, Paul Redman has documented some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. His work has involved investigating and documenting using covert and open filming techniques in some of the most remote parts of the world. Since 2001, working with the Environmental Investigation Agency, he has trained hundreds of environmental activists to use visual media to campaign for change, developing a network of groups in Indonesia, India and Tanzania. His work is award winning and has been used in news features and for programming on BBC, Sky, CNN, amongst other major distributors.

Producer: Tim Lewis
Tim Lewis has been working as a producer, sound recordist and editor in the documentary field for the past five years, producing films for a wide range of international charities and government agencies. His work has taken him to many difficult and challenging locations, whether filming semi nomadic tribal communities in the rainforests of Borneo, refugees in safe houses on the Thai-Burma border or following civil rights campaigners through war torn Liberia and the Congo.


Peter the House Clearer. What happens to all of our old stuff, where does it all go? Usually old clothes, furniture, books, plates and cutlery, the detritus of our lives accumulated, ends in some landfill to slowly rust and pollute the soil. Peter, our main character, with his long graying hair and beard, an American abroad with a history steeped in 60’s counter culture spends his days soaking up the sun. Sat amongst his eclectic collection he plays through bebop cassettes and waits for passersby. He is one of a dying breed of individuals, the house clearer. Situated in north London he works tirelessly through old abandoned properties, sifting through people’s belongings, checking for things of value, things that can be used again.

“I’ve been doing this for ten years and I can’t really explain how I started doing it or why,” says Peter grinning and scratching his beard. “I can’t seem to get away from it now, it’s practically taken over my life. The thing I always enjoy is discovering something unexpected.” For him words like sustainability don’t enter into his frame of thinking it is just what he does to get by.

We aim to film in his shop and then follow him as he clears the houses of the recently departed. After the families and mourners have gone, their belongings removed, the memories in the old homes subdued, Peter is summoned to quietly reopen the home with a familiar glint in his eye. What is left to value, what stories will he discover, and what can be deduced of the old owner? Picking over the rubble of an unknown past, is this what life will be like in the future? Will we scavenge and salvage from the wreckage of a life long forgotten?

Sat back in his shop Peter talks to his customers – a friend to some, confidante to others he listens and quietly marvels at the things people buy. Miles of copper piping, old lenonium, cabinets, plants, pictures, sinks, bikes, bathroom units and books, nothing misses his seasoned eye, all are tidied up, fixed and placed in the old garage that is his shop. In his own way he is the future of life on this planet and a symbol of its past, an old man and his values.


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