Glenn Kit­son on how Lon­don gave him hope

The filmmaker left trouble behind to pursue his creative instinct.

From raves to church­es, accents to ges­tures, E8 to SE22, no Londoner’s sto­ry is the same. In our series Audio Sto­ries: Lon­don, we asked indi­vid­u­als from all walks of life to share an account of their city.

As one of the most excit­ing con­tem­po­rary film­mak­ers, Glenn Kitson’s attach­ment to Lon­don comes with seri­ous weight: he moved to the cap­i­tal at 17 while escap­ing trou­ble back in Bolton, Greater Man­ches­ter, and became home­less in the ear­ly 00s before his career began. After two stints, Kit­son found him­self back for good and made use of the free­dom Lon­don gives. In his words, there’s hope that you can bet­ter your­self, there’s hope that you can become who­ev­er you want”, so that’s exact­ly what he did. 

Audio tran­scrip­tion:

My name’s Glenn Kit­son, I’m 42. I’m a film­mak­er but I do oth­er stuff too, like cre­ative stuff I sup­pose you call it. I love Lon­don, I first came here when I was about 17. My first expe­ri­ence was on Tele­graph Road and I was escap­ing from where I was and I was in trou­ble back home and it was mad. It was like the mid-‘90s and you know, I was doing a lot of drugs, and then I came back and had anoth­er go at it. And the sec­ond time I came back it was the ear­ly 2000s and I was home­less and I was in and out of home­less hos­tels and I was on the streets and stuff like that and I had a total­ly dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence of it. And then I sort­ed myself out, and you know I start­ed to live here and enjoy Lon­don. There’s hope here, there’s hope that you can bet­ter your­self, there’s hope that you can become who­ev­er you want. You know like it’s a mad time. You can start telling some peo­ple you’re an artist and if you’re any good, peo­ple will just believe you and you’ll be an artist or you can tell peo­ple you make films and if you can do it then you’ve got a chance because even­tu­al­ly every­one will go he’s a film­mak­er or he’s this, he’s that”. You know you can do that here, there’s opportunities.

Where I come from, where everyone’s just poor, you know the good thing about this is there’s real­ly rich peo­ple too and with that comes a dynam­ic of cre­ativ­i­ty. You know there’s hope, like there’s inspi­ra­tion, like you can go to a gallery or things like that. You know I think the best thing about Lon­don is when you get cul­tures mix­ing and class­es mix­ing and peo­ple mix­ing and that’s where the real cre­ative stuff comes from.

I live in Crys­tal Palace, I mean, what a name: Crys­tal Palace. It sounds amaz­ing doesn’t it? Fairy tale shit. And I love it here, I pinch myself when I see the view from the high street of the whole city. Yeah, I’m still in love with Lon­don, I real­ly like it.

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