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Little Birds

A military drone testing site in West Wales is viewed through the eyes of two families who live near the site. Delyth, a local actress and musician and her mother Jean have both been on local protests against the drones. Mair and her son Gethin are indicative of the generational differences in attitudes towards new technologies like drones.

  • Anita Hawser
    Director
  • Anita Hawser
    Producer
  • Mike Staniforth
    Cinematographer
    Shelter, The Music Factor, Debut, Ripper
  • Alex Stevenson (2nd camera)
    Cinematographer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Student
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 31 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    2,500 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    Yes
  • International Film Festival of Wales
    Cardiff
    United Kingdom
    December 9, 2017
Director Biography - Anita Hawser

Anita Hawser is a journalist and first-time filmmaker. Based in the UK, she started her career as a sports journalist on a daily newspaper in Sydney, Australia. She has worked as a defence and technology journalist for the last 20 years writing articles for various magazines and websites. Her first film, Little Birds, which was completed as part of an MA Final Project at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey, was inspired by her work writing about military drones. The film follows two families in the village and their experiences of living near an airfield where the British Army 's latest surveillance drone, the Watchkeeper, is tested. Anita is working on ideas for her next film, which is also likely to draw upon ideas she has developed working as a defence and technology journalist.

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Director Statement

Most people associate military drones with some battlefield thousands of miles away in a war-torn country. But with Little Birds, I wanted to look at drones from the perspective of a community in the UK that lives alongside a drone testing site. Is this technology greeted with the same fear, curiosity and suspicion in these communities as it is in countries where military drones dropping bombs and gathering surveillance is a daily occurence.
Little Birds explores unmanned technology from the perspective of a largely female cast. The women in the village of Aberporth where the British Army's latest surveillance drone the Watchkeeper is tested, have an illuminating, forthright and lighthearted perspective on a technology that is usually portrayed from a largely male perspective. Drones may be the military's 'eyes in the sky' and potentially save soldier's lives, but do they bring jobs and prosperity to local communities where test sites are located? Do we really know or understand what they are being used for?
In the two years since I started working on the film, drones have permeated almost every aspect of society. They are no longer just reserved for military use. Amazon is developing drones to deliver parcels. Parks on weekends are filled with the buzzing noise of drone flying enthusiasts and they are being used to provide a different aerial perspective at sporting matches and other events.
But through the experiences of the villagers in Little Birds, viewers are encouraged to think about society's complex relationship with unmanned warfare. What would it feel like to be watched or observed in the privacy of your own back garden by a military drone with surveillance cameras flying overhead? Why is the noise the drones make so disturbing for some people? Should we marvel at this technology and what it can do, or greet it with suspicion?
Little Birds also explores generational differences in attitudes towards the drones and broader themes around military surveillance and occupation. The technology may bring some families closer together and divide others.
Whatever your views on drones, I want Little Birds to provide a glimpse into society's complex relationship with this new form of military hardware and to serve as a reminder that war, and the machinery that fuels it, is never far from our doorstep, even if it seems like it is something happening to someone else, thousands of miles away.