Posts tagged paa joe

Interview with photographer David Severn


David Severn
 is a social documentary and fine art photographer based in Nottingham. His work is concerned with the relationship between people and place.  More specifically, how individuals and communities interact with or are affected by their environment. Within this context, he is particularly interested in working class culture and the places associated with it both historically and today.

David attended the event marking the end of Paa Joe’s month long artist residency at Clumber Park (in May 2013). We were wowed by his photos from the day and how they captured the spectacle and atmosphere of the procession.

We will be posting some of David’s Paa Joe photography alongside this but If you would like to see more of his work you can find him at He is also on Twitter and Instagram.

How did you get involved with the Paa Joe event?

David: I’d met Ben been during the World Event Young Artists festival (2012) in Nottingham, which we were both working on; Ben as filmmaker myself as a stills photographer. I was blown away by his WEYA film and was intrigued to hear of any future projects. I’m often at Broadway (where Ben has an office) working and drinking coffee in the CafeBar, so would run into Ben quite regularly and on one occasion he told me all about his plans for the Paa Joe residency and the documentary he’d been working on. I thought the whole project sounded amazing and very exciting, something I’d love to be a part of. When the residency had finally come to fruition, Ben came back to me about being involved and invited me to photograph the Paa Joe event at Clumber Park. I was keen to shoot in my own style, using film and a rangefinder camera, so excused myself from turning over tens of digital images, which Ben totally understood. This meant I had freedom to consider more carefully which moments I would photograph and more importantly, what I would not photograph!

What are your favourite memories of taking part in the project?

On a simple level, the beautiful weather that day, drinking nice beer and being with friends. I spent a lot of my childhood at Clumber Park too, it’s where I learnt to ride a bike, so going back there brought a lot of good memories to mind. In terms of the project though, I thought the journey from Nottingham added so much theatre and excitement to the day. It really felt like you were going as part of a community to witness this incredible spectacle in these very opulent surroundings. It was a major highlight of 2013 for me.

How would you describe your work and your approach to photography? 

I describe myself as a social documentary photographer. My personal work takes the form of mid / long term projects whereby I explore place, culture, community and environment. I’m interested in the relationship between people and place, often pairing portraits with associated landscapes or interiors to build a narrative that suggests and hints rather than boldly describes. Coming from a mining background, my work is typically concerned with the working class and more recently, young people. I shoot almost exclusively using film with a 6x7 rangefinder camera.

Which photographers and artists have influenced you?

The list could go on forever but I will list a few:
Rineke Dijkstra
Doug Dubois
Alec Soth
Spencer Murphy
Laura Pannack
Richard Renaldi

Tell us about some of your other recent / favourite projects

In 2012 I completed a series of pictures looking at the reinvented social uses of former colliery sites in and around the former coal mining stronghold of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. The project also explores the current social situation in the area, particularly in relation to its post-industrial recovery. More recently I’ve photographed travelling showmen families at home in their trailers during the Nottingham Goose Fair. The portraits, which were exhibited during Goose Fair 2013, portray showpeople in a sensitive light and seek to quash commonly held misconceptions about the community. I have a few projects in the pipeline but I’d rather not spill the beans on them just yet!

Where can people find out more about your work? 

My website is the best place to start!  
I’m also on twitter @davidsevern.


Producer Anna tells us what Paa Joe & The Lion means to her

Back in 2011 I got an email from Ben that was, as is his way, very direct and to the point.  It just said something along the lines of “Here’s a trailer I’ve put together.  Do you want to help produce it and make it into a feature?”  I watched the trailer and as soon as I heard Paa Joe’s laugh and saw the images of the different coffins there was absolutely no question, of course I was going to help to produce it!

And so the whirlwind began - applications for funding, Documentary Campus Masterschool, pitch workshops, Doc/Fest good times, and of course, going to Ghana. I’ve only been over once, to collect Paa Joe and Jacob before their trip to the UK, and it was incredible.

I was supposed to go another time, around New Year ‘13, but, the powers that be had other ideas. Just a week or so before Christmas 2012, on the day Ben and I were due to go to London and meet James Hunt from Sky Arts, I fell down the stairs and broke my foot. I was absolutely gutted as it meant I wasn’t allowed to fly with a cast on my foot and was strongly advised not to make the trip. I couldn’t believe it. image

The reason for the January trip was to film Paa Joe building his mother’s coffin, who had died earlier that year, and then her funeral.  I so wanted to be a part of it.  At the time I was struggling with my own grief, as my Dad died just a week before I tripped down the stairs, and I thought that going to Ghana to visit Paa Joe and be with his family during their time of grief might help me in my grieving process.  But alas, it wasn’t to be.

When Ben came back from the trip and showed me the footage he’d shot, I found it incredibly powerful.  I was still going through the motions of what had happened and watching Paa Joe, this big, strong character, organise funeral proceedings, build his mother’s coffin, and be surrounded by his family was somewhat difficult to watch but very beautiful too.  As I watched, memories of my father that had been locked away were released back into my consciousness and I felt as though I could see this in Paa Joe - as I watched him putting the finishing touches to the stunning white coffin, I imagined that memories of his childhood and his mother were being unlocked too.

Paa Joe & The Lion follows a man trying to save his business and legacy, but it also shows a man, and a family, dealing with emotions and difficulties that each and every one of us have to too.  It is poignant, moving yet also celebratory and has had a deep impact on my life.  I treasure this film, and Paa Joe and Jacob, very much and am looking forward to the next stage of the journey.

Thanks, Anna

A message of support from our Associate Producer

We recently received a lovely message from our Associate Producer, Constance Brinkley (who pledged over £1,500 through Kickstarter) and thought we’d share it with you.

Here’s just one of the many reasons people are supporting Paa Joe & The Lion, and we could couldn’t be happier about it!
If you’d like to do the same you only have a few days left to get involved. Head to Kickstarter to find out more now.
"I have a love of West Africa and the artists that live in these countries. My brother and his family lived in West Africa for about 10 years on two different occasions and two different countries.
I visited him for 35 days when he lived in Dapaong, Togo and 14 days when he lived in Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire.

I have such respect for the people who make their living through art and creativity. I have collected some of the most beautiful work on my visits. I have seen fantasy coffins and admired the work that went into them. I also am a photographer and have done some film work, so when I saw this project it was a “marriage made in heaven” art and a documentary.

I want to help preserve this craft and supporting this project brings awareness to the creativity of the great carpenters of Ghana and their gift of teaching others to carry on with this tradition.

Paa Joe’s craft needs to continue as an integral part of the local funeral culture and as a craft of creative art. I feel compelled to help you make this happen. Preservation through documentary awareness. Great project. When this is completed, and I know it will happen, I will be making a trip to England to hopefully meet you and the team and see the outcome of my investment.

Best wishes to you!
Our huge thanks to Constance for becoming our Associate Producer and for these beautiful, inspiring words.

Pop In to the Pop Up!

The Creative Quarter have just opened their doors to their Pop Up Shop in Nottingham city centre.  It’s where the furniture shop, Dwell, used to be on Fletcher Gate…by the Lace Market tram stop, next door to Tesco Express.  You know where I mean?  Good.

Well, why don’t you pop in and have a look at Broadway’s pop up cinema that is currently housing none other than our lil’ lion.   Chill out with him and watch half an hour of footage from the film on a split double screen and completely immerse yourself in the Paa Joe & The Lion experience before the film’s even out!!

He’ll be there until Tuesday 12th November (which is also the Kickstarter deadline day!!) - so pop in on your lunch break, pop in when you need to shelter from the rain, or pop in on your way home from work.

Creative Quarter Pop Up Shop opening times are:

Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 7pm
Sunday 11am - 4pm
Monday - Closed

And you can even bag some gorgeous Christmas presents there too from the other wonderful people who have popped up their shops to sell their homemade and unique wares.

Just 4 days left of the Kickstarter campaign so please pledge now!!

Another mix to Get Down to!

The guys from Get Down Sounds have sent us an afro-centric mix for our (and your) listening pleasure. Enjoy…

Get Down Promo Mix #4 by Getdownsounds on Mixcloud


We’ve got some really mega rewards to give out as thank yous to everyone who backs our Kickstarter campaign!

Help us finish our documentary Paa Joe & The Lion and you can bag yourself  a bundle of great Amy Blackwell Paa Joe merch…

Get a Tote Bag, T-shirt AND an A5 Amy B print AND be the first to see the film with a high quality digital download!

I know you’re probably thinking “but that must be at least 70 quid’s worth of stuff…”

It is.

But we’re giving it to you for just a £50 pledge.

So you get to support a great film made in the UK & Ghana, and you get a totally rad bundle of amazing stuff as a thanks from us!

Let a bit of movie-biz glamour rub off on you and pledge now to get this limited edition magic bundle perk

On the Road Again!

Our dear Lion has a new place to sleep.  From Broadway Cinema to the Creative Quarter's new Pop Up Shop on Fletcher Gate, Nottingham

Look at those strong men making sure he gets there safe and sound.

Thanks boys!

Video edited by David Louis Lankester of Wowsers Trousers fame. 


We were recently looking at the blooper reel from the footage we shot for our Kickstarter pitch video. Director Ben thought it’d be a good idea if he put together some handy hints for any filmmakers who were considering crowdfunding like us.

He also thought you might like a good chuckle at our out-takes

We’re sure you’ll agree it took a lot of effort to get our 2 minute Kickstarter pitch video in the can. Hope you like the results.

Head to  to watch the full pitch video, check out our campaign updates and new rewards for supporting the film too!

Thank you to all our Kickstarter supporters - all the way from Ghana !

Paa Joe and his son Jacob wanted to thank all our Kickstarter backers.

So, here’s a video message all the way from Africa to each and every one of our 100+ supporters.

Speaking of which, here are the latest lovelies to add to that list…

  • Miriam Jackson
  • Nail Jay 
  • James Edwin Bettney
  • The Rt. Hon. Lord Paul Boateng of Akyem in Ghana & Wembley in the UK - we have a Lord for an Associate Producer…woohoo!
  • Mattias Kiiehn Nielsen
  • Tom Wood
  • Sandon Monnastes
  • Katherine Pan
  • Gifted Scribble
  • Elly Condron
  • Mandy Briggs
  • Suzanne Alizart
  • Kris Williams
  • Jennifer L Smith
  • Luke McGibney
  • Cheryl Gill
  • Diana Smith
  • A+W
  • Donna M Capin, MD
  • Cheri Quincy
  • Philip Formby

Mr. Ben Wager, this is a message all the way from Ghana just for you!!

Starring Paa Joe & Jacob.

Big, big thank you for pledging to the Paa Joe & The Lion Kickstarter campaign.