YOBS key to a better Life?

People at the screening

The screening © Medb Films

A Summer Arts College with Medb Films for disadvantaged young people

The summer of 2009 saw an exciting initiative take place: Medb Films hosted a summer school for a group aged 10- 17 who have a history of offending or are at risk of offending.  In six weeks the project aimed to teach the basic skills in film production and guide the young crew through the processes in order to create their own film.

After an initial introduction by the Kent Film Office, KCC’s Kent Youth Offending Services and Medb Films got to work quickly on securing support and funding to explore how film may be used to teach life skills to disadvantaged young people. The first project was a mediabox initiative: Autism in the Frame, which after a lot of hard work led to this Summer Arts College.

Organisers hoped the programme would provide an inspirational and creative experience, with a strong emphasis of hands on learning in all areas of filmmaking.  A carefully thought out structure provided practical learning and progression of the group’s academic aptitude.  Students were shown a variety of independent and classic feature films followed by an oral critique and discussion on the themes, the subtext, culture and social comment involved.  The six weeks with the Summer Arts College encouraged confidence, self esteem, communication and skills in team work, as well as improving numeracy and literacy.

Young Offender receiving his award

Young Offender receiving his award © Medb Films

Along with the fictional film produced by the small team a documentary was also created by the participants, offering the young offenders the chance to discuss and answer intimate questions about their life choices and hopes for the future.  In this documentary you can see the changes that have already been put in place by the opportunity given to them with Medb Films, inspiring the young people to change their life path and aim higher than they may have previously thought possible.

A screening of the finished film and documentary took place on Friday 28th August at Granville Cinema in Ramsgate.  Local actress Brenda Blethyn was among the audience, who were all impressed by the high standard of work and innovative storytelling.  After the screening, certificates were given to each of the summer school participants to acknowledge their achievements and successful completion of the course.

Elaine Wickham from Medb Films said-

“The huge success of Autism in the Frame is what led to us running this year’s Summer Arts College. Of the seven students, five completed the programme and received their Bronze Awards. For many this was a huge achievement in their lives. I think film production is a fantastic environment to inspire creativity and encourage collaboration, as well as a strong work ethic. It took about a week to get them hooked on the process, and now we have all five going on to our three month pilot programme starting on the 14th. Working with young offenders can be challenging, as well as incredibly rewarding. They are teenagers who have had difficult lives or have derailed due to one reason or another, but are essentially good people with a lot to offer society if given a second chance.”

The course proved successful for many involved in the project, and fulfilled the aims for the Kent Youth Offending Service whose principal intentions are to confront young offenders with the consequences of their actions and provide interventions that tackle the causes of offending.

After completing the programme, some of the students were enrolled on to the Maeve Films three month film school in partnership with Kent Film Office, which is then followed by a nine month mentor programme of short courses, literacy and numeracy modules and work experience placements. This course is styled as a pilot under the Kent Film Foundation banner and hoped to be developed into a full-time opportunity for disadvantaged young people to learn industry and life skills.

Mark Foster stated-

“The Kent Youth Offending Service in partnership with Medb Films offered 10 young people an opportunity to learn film making skills on a six week full time programme with industry professionals. This opportunity was focused on young people whose offending had been particularly persistent or serious. Many of them had previously struggled in educational settings. Whilst the project was not for everyone it really captured the imagination of some of our young people, all of whom worked really hard to produce two short films of exceptional quality. All were offered the opportunity of continuing their film making work with Medb Films next project and several have taken up the opportunity.

This was a very positive and successful project which offered a fantastic opportunity which the young people involved grasped with great enthusiasm.”

Other partners involved in this project were; Unitas, YOS, Connexions, The Pie Factory, Screen South, and Thanet College.