So I went off the grid for a while there, sorry about that… a few weeks ago I hooked up with my pal (and far superior blogger) Stu, the mind behind London street art blog Inspiring City, and he quite rightly gave me some grief for not updating this page more often. So here I is!
PQA recently had red carpet events for both the AM and PM academies in January – these events are screenings of all of the video work that the students had produced over the past year (I mostly spent the Christmas break editing furiously) and so we got dressed up for the ‘premiere’ and the kids got to show their friends and families all their hard work. I also produced DVDs for both screenings (it was going to be blu-rays, but I guess most people still don’t have the tech yet), so that they will always have a memento of the time that they harassed bemused parents with vox pops, or got killed by ghosts/zombies. It’s not always easy putting projects together with these guys but I’m often impressed by their knowledge, instincts and abilities, especially among the younger groups – I reckon there are a few stars in the making there!
In the autumn half term I also did another wave with NCS The Challenge, who are always really fun to work with and do great projects with young people – hopefully I’ll be doing some more with them in the summer.
I haven’t been very active on here lately because recently I’ve been putting more of my energies into non-video projects – I’m currently living in the movie ‘The Money Pit’ and have been renovating a house for a year (look I’m rubbish at DIY and I can’t get over there very often alright), thankfully on the home stretch with this now (I hope? Please?) and I am looking forward to having some semblance of my life back… So yeah. Video producer, gardener, painter and decorator, many strings to my bow.
I’ve also started getting back into writing. I’d had an idea for a novel in my head for the longest time – to the point where I started dreaming about the characters – so although it may never leave my hard drive let alone make me a fortune, I’ve had to get it from brain to page for the sake of my sanity. There’s still a long way to go with it, but I’m enjoying writing it even though I don’t really know if I’m going about it the right way… Like Bruce Lee, mine is ‘the style of no style’. I’ve done a few other short stories and poems (with the exception of Blake I hated poetry at school, go figure) so another blog is in the works for my literary ramblings; will post the link when I deem it sufficiently presentable!
This year I did a couple of days’ filming with jam-av for the Normandy Day UK Peace Through Unity project:
Normandy Day UK (Peace Through Unity) is about young people and veterans working together to celebrate peace and remember the sacrifices made by ‘the few’ to attain that peace.
We aim to create art that will pay tribute to the fallen and spread the message of peace.
We hope to foster and build inter-generational and inter-cultural relationships through the process and create an individual and unique experience for everyone involved.
This project has been a long time in the making and a number of schools have taken part. I went with the jam-av team to two different schools in Coventry where the students had visits from war veterans who came to answer questions and share their stories with them. The young people then worked with creative artists and practitioners to produce something expressing their thoughts and ideas on war and peace based; the activities I was involved in were filmmaking at Barrs Hill and poetry at Cardinal Wiseman (which I documented; I wasn’t there for my poetry skills!)
I was glad even just to have a small involvement in such a worthwhile and fascinating project, it really was moving to hear the veterans’ stories and gratifying to see the level of respect and interest from the young participants. Here is the final film (compiled from many hours of footage so I’m told!)
If you want to see this on a bigger screen and meet other people involved/interested in the project, there will be small screenings of the film in the pop up shop in West Orchards, Smithford Way, Coventry on Saturday 30th August at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm – pop in to book your place. The shop also has information about related events in September that will bring the project to a close.
I’ve just spent six weeks working as a Media Practitioner for NCS (the National Citizen Service) powered by The Challenge, which is the NCS provider in London, the West Midlands and the North West. NCS is a government-funded initiative that supports community engagement and social integration among young people.
Participants are aged 15-17 and over 18,000 young people were offered the opportunity to take part in the project this year. The summer programme had three aspects; week one is the ‘Personal Challenge’ in which participants challenge themselves and take part in outdoor activities like kayaking and abseiling. Week two is the ‘Team Challenge’ where the young people learn new skills in one of their chosen subjects (this year the choices were Media, Drama, Photography, Sport and Enterprise) and meet people in their local community whom they may not normally interact with, then in week three they have the ‘Campaign Design & Action’ where the team works together to create and manage a project or campaign in the community and pitch it to some business “dragons” to secure funding.
My role was to lead sessions for the Team Challenge section of the programme, working with groups selected to learn Media skills. Each week I worked with a new group of young people and a new community partner (partners included day centres for people with learning difficulties, recovering addicts and others who are isolated or in need of support) for three days to create a film or several short films to demonstrate what these local organisations do and to promote their services. On the third day of each week the finished films were screened in front of the whole ‘wave’ of NCS participants along with their friends, relatives and community partners.
Most of the participants had no previous media experience so on the first day each group split into smaller teams and assigned crew roles, and in the morning before the first of two community visits we would go over the basics of what those roles involved and practise using the sound and camera equipment; we would then have until the afternoon of the third day to shoot and edit our film(s). Each week we were given information about our community partner and an outline of the project brief and aims, which were usually flexible and allowing plenty of room for the participants’ own ideas.
Covering sensitive topics and meeting vulnerable members of the community really took the young people out of their comfort zones but I was really impressed at how sensitive and respectful they were to both staff and service users, and also at how quickly they got to grips with using both the filming equipment and the editing software (Final Cut Pro X). My role as Media Practitioner was only to teach and facilitate; the participants conceived, planned and produced both the films and their showcase presentation all themselves. I found the project really enjoyable and rewarding, it was great to meet so many different people in the community and take part in something that was beneficial both to them and the young people taking part. There was also a great team of staff and volunteers who were really helpful, friendly and supportive.
10/10, would do again!
The Panasonic DMC-GH4 arrived today! After the briefest of glances at the manual and a few minutes of faffing with the camera settings I was raring to go and film something, so here is my very first slice of test footage: a completely unedited micro-interview with the resident feline, Kira. She was as expressive as always.
It feels like ages since my last blog, the last month has flown by… Anyway firstly I just want to briefly sing the praises of arts networking events – you hear a lot of different views as to how effective or useful these things are, but the reason my last few weeks have gone by so quickly is because going to all these local gatherings has led to new collaborators and a new job 🙂
I ran into the lovely folks at jam-av several times at various events organised by Creative Enterprise, who do really good work providing many different training and networking opportunities for people working in the arts across the West Midlands that are often free to attend. We got to talking and I ended up helping out as an extra camera bod for an interesting project called Peace Through Unity, in which young people are given the opportunity to meet and talk to war veterans, hearing their stories and working together to explore the meaning of peace while celebrating it with creative projects including making a short film, writing poetry, etc. I found it really interesting to observe the respect and fascination the students held for the veterans, and they had many interesting questions for them. They were often clearly moved by the stories they heard and I think that everyone involved seemed to take something positive from the experience.
I am now also teaching the film and TV module at the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts which also came about through jam-av, who knew the principal well and put me in touch. It has been a while since I did any teaching on a regular basis but I’m having a great time with it, it’s nice to get my teeth stuck into some new projects and I’ve been impressed with the students’ capabilities. It’s only been a few weeks but we already have a complete film, a fun little horror from my oldest afternoon group called ‘Rocks in the water’; as soon as I get it uploaded to the PQA website I’ll post a link. We will be working to produce a number of films to screen at the students’ showcase towards the end of the year so watch this space!
Documentary video by Nick Fogg featuring some behind-the-scenes footage of the animation workshops I led in Wales in July and December 2013 for Theatr Brycheiniog’s ‘In a New Light’ project – my bit’s at 2.15 🙂
Carlito would like to tell you all about his magic hat, which he found at a charity shop.
This is a short video I created for a contest on Zooppa entitled ‘Bring a Child’s Imagination to Life’ where the rules dictated that I had to recruit a child aged 9 or under to be the brains of the operation, only helping them to shoot and put the thing together into a film no longer than two minutes long.
The idea, spoken word content (none of which was scripted or even really planned) and most of the props were all Carlito’s; he turned up all ready to go. I just pointed the camera at him, chipped in to the dialogue where I was prompted, and edited the footage – as you can see it is heavily edited as the talent kept insisting we had a ‘few more minutes’… these film stars can be right divas eh? At some point I’ll do a longer edit so you can see what else came out of the hat. 🙂
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