Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from journalist and film maker Andrew Lloyd. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown!
I moved to Cardiff in 2013 to start my undergraduate degree at the University of South Wales. I was studying English but I was equally fascinated with filmmaking, so during the summer of 2014 I worked a night shift in Bristol and saved up for a digital camera. When I returned to Cardiff for my second year, I began to record almost everything.
As a result, I have footage of Cardiff from almost every angle: from skyline timelapses to meandering shots of the backstreets and alleyways. I’ve filmed Cardiff in the summer and Cardiff in the snow. Cardiff on quiet Sundays and Cardiff on manic match days. I’ve documented it all.
I work on specific projects throughout the year, uploading to my YouTube channel Andrew Made A Film. Filming has become a bit of an instinct; if I see something interesting or different I’ll get my camera out – a bit of an endeavour these days because everything about Cardiff is different.
I currently live in Splott and avoid the city centre during the lockdown, but sometimes it’s necessary to head into town if my local shop is understocked and I need essentials. I don’t take my digital camera with me, but I’ve been filming on my phone as I make my way through the usual sights. I don’t linger for long and I abide by the rules of social distancing, I just keep my phone camera rolling as I move through the city.
On some streets it feels like a perpetual Sunday morning, with just a handful of scattered shoppers clinging to carrier bags; it’s the facemasks that let you know something’s not quite right, and the fact it’s 5pm on a Friday afternoon and the city should be thriving. Most of the streets are completely desolate.
I decided to edit the video I’d recorded and upload it to YouTube, but the footage of eerie and empty streets didn’t quite convey the change Cardiff had been through during lockdown. I realised it wasn’t enough to show how quiet the city was, it was necessary to show how busy it would normally have been, so I took some pre-lockdown footage I’d recorded of Cardiff and layered it over the new video.
The results were quite ghostly – former shoppers and past pedestrians weaving through the empty streets, with faint echoes of rugby chants and a busker’s amp fading into nothing; the life of a thriving city, temporarily hushed.
In many ways the video and the photos are bleak, highlighting what Cardiff (and the world) is currently going through, but I think there’s some optimism there as well.
The video may show Cardiff as it is, but it’s also a reminder of what Cardiff will hopefully become once again.
Follow Andrew Lloyd on Twitter @AndrewDidATweet.
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