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Where You Live (1968)


Main image of Where You Live (1968)
16mm, colour, 17 mins
SponsorJohn Laing & Son

The Easiform construction system as a solution to the demand for housing that needs to be built under a new approach to living environment.

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The construction company John Laing & Son produced a number of films promoting the range of industrialised building systems that they had developed or co-opted for housebuilding. The "Easiform" system advocated in Where You Live had already been used by the company for almost 40 years before the film was made. An earlier Laing film on the same subject, Building Homes (1950), gave a relatively straightforward overview of the automation Easiform added to the construction process. A subsequent film, titled Easiform (1955), spent less time detailing the method of building of houses in favour of more emphasis on the resulting homes. Where You Live continues this trend, rushing through the 'unskilled' aspects of the build (purportedly the subject of the film), and giving as much screen time to the more traditional aspects of the job.

The film takes an essay form, seemingly representing itself as a wide ranging discussion on the nature of community housing. Where Laing's earlier films were marked by a quiet pride in these houses, Where You Live almost seems to be on the defensive. All too aware of accusations of building "little boxes made from ticky-tacky", as the Pete Seeger song included in the film says, Laing shifts the emphasis from merely building homes to building communities. The concept of the planned living environment is not just important to potential residents, but even more so to the local authorities with the powers to commission such building schemes. It is they, not the future homeowners or tenants, who are ultimately Laing's direct customers so it is understandable that the film considers them its target audience.

By directly confronting the criticisms of system-building houses, the film seeks to strengthen its case. What weakens this approach is the decision to illustrate the words of Seeger's song with local residents, almost in the manner of a music video. It seems unwise to attempt to negate a viewpoint by giving it such convincing visual substance.

Jez Stewart

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Video Clips
Complete film (15:34)
Laing Film Unit