Congratulations to Vice who are the winners of Best use of Video or Audio
In September 2018, at the height of London’s knife crime epidemic, VICE released a feature length documentary which took a deeply personal and candid look into the communities affected by the unprecedented wave of violence. At the time of broadcast, more young men had lost their lives in the capital than at any other point over the past decade. Yet, the rhetoric of tabloid media coverage of the crisis was beset with salacious negativity and had desensitised much of the public from the tragic and senseless deaths of these young people. Against this backdrop, VICE set out to produce a documentary that offered an intimate and measured insight into the culture and repercussions of knife violence, with the intention of having a far-reaching impact on those affected.
Set the Scene
In a busy and saturated digital environment, VICE continues to influence the video landscape with compelling, original content on issues that speak to a youth audience. In order to reach as many young people as possible, the film received a synchronised, cross-platform premiere airing on VICE’s flagship TV channel, online video platforms, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, IGTV and VICE’s Snapchat Discover channel. VICE’s in-house production team worked on ‘On a Knife Edge’ for two years, following the journeys of the contributors involved. To ensure their stories were accurately and sensitively handled the team consulted various youth organisations and charities including London community organisation OMG Education, Victim Support and The Ben Kinsella Trust.
VICE’s documentary, ‘On a Knife Edge’, was unique in that it was hosted and co-produced by community activist and former gang member Josh Osbourne, who became affiliated with a South London gang at the age of 16. After a stint in prison, it was London youth group Carney’s Community which irrevocably changed the path of Josh’s life, and led him into a career of community youth work himself. Josh’s understanding and deep knowledge of the community and their stories, which VICE sought to amplify, was what set the documentary apart from others at the time of release. Filmed over a two year period, the documentary followed Josh as he met with: grieving families devastated by knife violence and on their own campaigns for justice - including Sandra Elwin, who’s son Lewis Elwin was stabbed to death in Clapham in 2016, and who Josh had known for his whole life; relatives who have lost a loved one, and are struggling to find answers within their own community - such as Vanessa Hyman, mother of Anton Hyman, who Josh had befriended whilst in prison and who’s case remains unsolved after 14 years; active gang members whose reputations are a fiercely protected social capital; and the London doctors, including renowned Trauma Surgeon Dr Martin Griffiths, tasked with trying to stem the physical and emotional damage caused to young men.
To further ensure the film reached as many young people as possible, and explored the multitude of issues relating to knife crime, VICE produced a package of additional editorial news content around the film, including two short films released exclusively on Facebook and which profiled London youth groups, OMG Education and Carney’s Community, which offer preventative support for young people most at risk. In addition, VICE created bespoke editorial content for VICE’s Snapchat channel including an interactive poll which asked subscribers whether knife crime concerned them during their day to day life - 45% of users said yes. (70% of VICE’s Snapchat users are 13-24 years old). Across platforms the film engaged with a wide audience with a total of 18 million minutes watched and an average view duration of 18 minutes on YouTube. Furthermore, as was the intention from the outset, VICE has always had a desire to positively support the communities affected which led to the development of a new community partnership with London based youth organisation, OMG Education. The organisation will use the documentary throughout this year to deliver bespoke workshops for young people aimed at starting a conversation around the impact of knife crime, in a safe environment.