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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