Documentary: A Garden in Hastings

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Raising money for a film shining a light on a garden where men meet to overcome grief and trauma through nature, community and communication

A film by Steve Furst shining a light on the wild garden of Glenn Veness and the men’s group who meet there.    

We are raising money to help us create an inspiring documentary about overcoming grief and trauma through nature, community and communication.

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74-year-old bricklayer Glenn Veness has for years, single-handedly, poured every ounce of his time and energy into his garden in an effort to keep the memory of his son Luke alive and to keep depression at bay. In doing so he has created a unique and sprawling natural haven amidst a suburban Hastings’ council estate. Over twelve months, this film will follow the garden’s ‘Men’s Group’ who meet to chat through their challenges and support one another.

Directed by celebrated actor Steve Furst, ‘A Garden in Hastings’ will be a documentary film exploring loss, mental health, recovery, friendship, based in the town of Hastings and following the development and journey of the town’s most magical and clandestine garden, which once played host to some of the most infamous parties in the town, but is now a performance space and venue to the Hastings Mens Network. 

  • 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health. 
  • 29% of those say they are "too embarrassed" to speak about it
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50 in the UK. 

Our aim is to make a 30 - 45 minute film to be screened at festivals and pitched to potential broadcast partners and funders. In partnership with Beder, we hope the film can raise awareness of improving mens’ mental health. 

We are currently in our first phase of crowd funding, hoping to raise an initial £6.5k to enable filming across the coming months. 

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Glenn’s Story

Behind the gate of an unassuming semi on a council estate on the outskirts of Hastings is an unlikely place to find a magical garden that has played host to some legendary parties. These al fresco shindigs have been eulogised about by those
that attended and have become stuff of mythical notoriety.

At the centre of it all is the most unlikely of hosts, Glenn Veness, a brickie by trade and a third generation Hastings resident who has chronicled life in the Old Town on video for over 30 years, and his own films have become almost mythical.

This man transformed his back garden (and arguably parts of his neighbours’) into a
notorious haven for the best parties in the town that are still talked about today.
However the parties, as Glenn’s recalls “all got a bit too much, to be honest”.

But this Eden-esque garden is not without its own tragedy. Glenn and his wife Kathy
suffered the loss of their son Luke to suicide. The parties stopped. Life stopped. The
garden grew into disrepair as Glen and Kathy struggled to come to terms with their
loss.

As the years rolled on, and the brambles and ivy took over and the garden was shrouded in darkness. It lay dormant for years. It took the harsh reality of Lockdownfor Glenn to suddenly wake up one morning and decide that something needed to change. That change would be the garden. and took over the once magical garden,

Glenn reached a point where he could not continue as he was anymore.
So he decided to make a change. And it began with the garden. He tore the garden to the ground, and began again. This time it was with a purpose.

He started to rebuild. And in doing so, found new purpose. And in his own words, he became obsessed.

Although he was rebuilding alone, working every hour of the day and often well into the night, through all weather, this time the community around him lent him
their support, donating materials, pieces of original art, ornaments and sculptures
to populate the ever growing garden.

And now the garden is not only a total spectacle, with flower beds, thousands of fairy lights, a band stage and cinema, bird hide, roof terraces, a haven for local
wildlife, but it is the home to a regular group therapy meeting for men looking to
face their own personal issues and trauma.

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THE FILM

Over the course of one year, actor / director Steve Furst and his team will follow Glenn and attendees of the Hastings Men’s Network led by Chris Richards. Using the garden as a backdrop, along with Glenn’s unique footage celebrating the people of his hometown, the film will present vignettes of men who for whatever reason are struggling. We intend to explore themes such as grief, trauma, recovery, in a way that is true to the complex, curious and inspiring nature of Glenn’s wild garden and the people who inhabit it.

Working with our charity partner, BEDER, who specialise in raising awareness of suicide prevention, our mission is to shine a positive light on people like Glenn who are trying to break the cycle, and promote a new culture of openness  and shared emotions amongst men. 

Over the course of production and post production, we will seek to pitch the film to broadcasters, streamers and film festivals, as well as arranging local community screenings in Hastings. 

“We’re really excited to be working with Steve, Glenn and the rest of the team behind this project. I think there’s great synergy between the reasons why Beder was founded and everything this project is about. So we are incredibly grateful for your support and we look forward to being part of it”

Razzak Mirjan, CEO BEDER

“This film is potentially groundbreaking and very important to make and contribute to a bigger societal conversation about men..  A garden is a great way to view a whole host of topics and Glenn’s garden is the perfect oasis to explore this”

Chris Richards, Hastings Men’s Network

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THE TEAM

Glenn is a local legend whose infectious energy inspires pretty much everyone he comes into contact with. As such, this documentary was spawned from an evening in the garden and remains a passion project for director Steve and his skeleton team. 

Steve Furst


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Steve is an actor, writer, musician with over 30 years experience in all mediums; TV, stage, film, radio. He has been part of the RSC, The National Theatre, and has appeared in a variety of award winning TV shows. He is a former resident of Hastings and first visited the garden about 20 years ago. It wasn’t until visiting the reimagined garden around 6 years ago that the idea for a documentary began to formulate. 

Rhys James

Rhys is an experienced documentary maker with over 14 years experience producing and directing a wide variety of content across broadcast and digital. 

Specialising in crime and deviance, subcultures, identity and mental health, Rhys has worked individually and through his production company Yellow Lens for BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 among others.

He also works with charities, campaign groups and not-for-profit organisations to help with their video and editorial output, with a particular focus on media & politics, investigative journalism and press reform.

Dan Matthews

Dan is a producer & exec who has worked on major factual series including The Apprentice (BBC One) and 24 Hours in A & E (Channel 4) and developed doc series Britain at the Bookies (BBC2), World’s Toughest Jobs (BBC3) and The Repair Shop (BBC One). 

He is the owner / director of Hastings based Ramshackle Productions, who have produced over 200 music videos, most recently for London Grammar, Ed Sheeran and Fontaines DC. He has also worked on numerous community projects in Hastings with many local partners, and spent the pandemic running Isolation Station - a community live-streaming platform to keep people connected. 


FUNDING

The £6.5k will enable us to cover 20 filming days and 20 post productions days across one year including:

Events at Glenn’s garden

Meetings of the Hastings Men’s Network

Personal stories of attendees of the Hastings Men’s Network

Archive research pulling moments from Glenn’s 40 year video archive of footage from local events. 

Of course, this project is a labour of love, and amongst many other things the team are providing various in kind support including:

  • Free Camera, lighting, sound equipment 
  • Post production equipment & software
  • All pre-production, development & pitching

POTENTIAL ADDITIONAL ROUNDS OF FUNDING

Our initial fund raiser includes will cover the filming and post production of our core team to produce a finished cut of the film. During post production, we may seek additional funding to provide:

  • Festival Submissions
  • Original score
  • Sound Design
  • Sound Mix
  • Grade & onlining
  • Graphics & Title

Please join us on this journey!

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