BoxTown Project

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Just about a year ago, three friends formed BoxTown Project (BTP), an Athens-based video production company producing ads, short films and documentaries where their love for wheels and Greece is more than evident. Melbourne-born Angelos Giotopoulos, Scottish Bob Page and US-raised Peter Boudouris joined their commonly driven creative impulses to produce some very artistic fixed-gear shorts and films about the Athenian street-culture. Apart from a distinctive and unique aesthetic that identifies them as one of Greece’s most promising production businesses, BoxTown Project’s videos deliver some very interesting perspectives about current affairs in Athens and Greece in general. “We met in Athens, and over a period of time realised we had similar creative impulses, as we would always end up talking about ideas for photo shoots or short films, and we started building short video clips just for fun. This is how we began to feel our way through the process,” Bob Page tells Neos Kosmos.“Our first real attempt at documentary filmmaking led to the film Melathiou: a sunny street for shady people, which explored the fixed gear bike scene that was centred around VCA (Vicious Cycles Athens).“BoxTown came into existence during the filming of that project,” he explains.For Angelos Giotopoulos, on the other hand, BoxTown was always there, it just hadn’t been named and the practical side of it never got up and running. “Over the years of being friends, it was unavoidable,” Pete Boudouris adds.“I think we like grasping themes and ideas that we can have fun with and trying different things. BTP isn’t all about fixed gear.”“We are just part of a really close fixed gear community in Athens and have an ongoing project with the riders of the TDA crew,” he goes on.BTP came into the international spotlight with one of their latest videos entitled SYRIZA: The State of Greece, a short documentary that set out to explore the recent changes in the Greek government and its implications for the Greek people and the European community. All participants live and work in Athens and have witnessed first-hand the very public decline of Greece’s economy and global reputation, while some do not have the right to vote in Greece despite their lengthy residence. Amongst them, Greek Australian businessman Nicholas Geronimos, Glaswegian sound-engineer and entrepreneur Stephen Flemming, journalist Giorgos Frantzeskakis and the UK owners of Vicious Cycles Athens. The BoxTown team shot the video in an attempt to convey the people’s rising hope after the elections, though the participants can’t help but question the ideology of the SYRIZA government. “In the weeks surrounding the Greek elections there was a tangible positive buzz in the air, accompanied by a lot of questions and conjecture,” Bob says. “Everyone was talking about the possibilities and pitfalls ahead. It was a small leap for us to decide to explore the subject in a film. This time though we wanted to apply our new-found skills and production values to the piece.”The film about SYRIZA was decided upon in a split second, according to Angelos Giotopoulos, as the BoxTown team felt it was a current and crucial piece that needed to be told through the eyes of the expats living in Greece. “It was a personal approach not only for us but for the interviewees who needed to be heard,” he confesses. “As expats they are not given the opportunity to vote, so this was an opportunity to voice their opinion. We had no agenda, we just let them narrate our documentary.”Some contributors to the SYRIZA documentary absolutely can vote here and the fact that the majority could not became apparent later on in the filmmaking process. We put together a list of people we considered informed and diverse, although not having a female perspective is an omission BoxTown still regrets. “It wasn’t pre-planned – more of a happy accident in terms of adding layers of interest,” Pete says. “We knew from the outset that as a fledgling production company it would be impossible for us to interview any of the major political players but we felt that as expats we had a unique perspective that we hadn’t seen covered in the media.”Both the participants and the BoxTown team feel optimistic about the radical changes the Greek political scene is undergoing; the deeper they look, however, the harder it is to maintain that feeling. The stamina of people living and working in Greece has plummeted, therefore they find themselves grasping any option that seems capable of offering a way out from the harshness of the austerity measures, whether that is the leftists’ SYRIZA or, most disappointingly, the extreme right. The leading party’s decision to form a coalition government with ANEL (a far right-wing party) was indicative of the cracks in its leadership, as ANEL opposed to SYRIZA’s decision to offer immigrants living in Greece citizenship.“Hopefully, a positive outlook is enough to turn things around, at least internally in Greece,” says Bob, despite his fears about the new government’s credibility.“It’s diverting the public’s opinion. And feelings.”Angelos stresses the fact that all people living in Greece are constantly hoping for change, a long-awaited change, which seemed as if it was going to happen, though the way SYRIZA has been priming the pump, it might end up shutting whatever window was left open for Greece. Both Angelos and fellow Greek Australian Nicholas Geronimos, who takes part in the video, are firm believers Greece won’t exit the eurozone.“The question is if SYRIZA can come home with the goods, whatever goods that may be,” Angelos says, contemplating the failed efforts by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to reach an agreement on reforms to Greece’s bailout program. “We are hoping we can live with dignity and support one another in our attempt to progress with an intelligent future for Greek society,” he adds, choosing to focus on how more and more people from other parts of the world are changing their way of thinking.The BoxTown Project trio has just released a slightly more stylised fixed gear short that they are excited about, titled Last Man, which shall be followed by some music videos for local bands.“We have a good list of projects to keep us creative and productive. I believe this is what we all need to be doing,” Angelos says.And he couldn’t be more right, as times of crisis have always been a springboard for creativity.* For more information and to watch Boxtown’s short documentaries, check out their vimeo channel here