Harnessing young people’s creativity through animation

06 Apr 2016 BY Stephanie Bryant

5 mins
Stephanie Bryant Staveley Workshop
Stephanie Bryant Staveley Workshop

Working with young people as part of Into Film's See It, Make It project has been a really eye-opening and inspiring experience.

Working with children and young people in rural Cumbria has been full of challenges. With such large groups, you have to find ways to keep every participant interested and involved during slow processes, which is the nature of animation. What we were trying to get across to them is that creativity really is in their fingertips, and that no idea is beyond the possibilities of creation. Want to show a skyscraper bursting out of a teapot? Ok. No problem!

The good thing is that everyone can be involved, whatever their skills. Filmmaking is all about hard work, persistence, and patience, but putting in the effort gets results at the end of the day, which is incredibly gratifying for the participants.

Animation provides lots of opportunities for learning. As a filmmaking medium, there are no real boundaries - cost can be low, skill level can be low, resources and environment can be low-tech, meaning that storytelling can be achieved with very little. Team work, creativity, imaginative devising and co-operation are all skills that can be gained.

For one student, Tom, the project had a profound impact. At first he was incredibly shy, but the filmmaking grabbed him and he participated in a way not normally forthcoming to him. We asked him to speak out, to take the lead on certain things, to help with younger children. The varied and practical nature of the project meant that he didn't have the time to stop and worry, and he really excelled.

Because these students are in an area of rural isolation, they have less direct access to the arts. Little professional work comes to their doorsteps, so projects like this, going into these areas, is a great way to open up access to culture. Also, through the media many rural kids think that ‘creative people' are elsewhere, in cities. That's simply not the case. Projects like See It, Make It demonstrate that we are all creative, valid, and unique, and we can all make brilliant work, whoever we are, wherever we are. 

More about Signal Film & Media

As a small production company Signal Film & Media creates opportunities in film and digital media, developing skills and nurturing talent with individuals and groups of all ages and backgrounds. Based in Barrow-in-Furness, South Cumbria, we are a selected provider of the BFI's Film Academy and produce films for exhibition, broadcast and the commercial sector.

With the support from Into Film we delivered 18 workshops to 3 lucky schools spread around Cumbria. Stephanie Bryant was the Into Film Project Manager for Signal, she is also a filmmaker who has for the past 4 years gained technical knowledge in editing, design, camera-operating and animation, and works with young groups on a regular basis for all kinds of film projects. We also enlisted the service of very talented freelance artist Hannah Fox, who for 25 years has created images, characters and performances worldwide,   working with radical art organisations. Steph and Hannah worked together, as a creative team, to produce animation workshops for 18-20 young people at a time.

All of the films were originally composed by a local volunteer. During some workshops he worked with students to come up with the best sounds and music composition to give the youngsters a full experience of the process of filmmaking. All the groups had the chance to learn sound recording, editing and lighting using professional equipment and industry standard software which the children picked up well and exceeded our expectations of their abilities.

Stephanie Bryant, Project Manager at Signal Film and Media and filmmaker

Stephanie Bryant, Signal Film and Media Project Manager / Filmmaker

Stephanie Bryant was the Into Film Project Manager for Signal. She is also a filmmaker who has for the past 4 years gained technical knowledge in editing, design, camera-operating and animation, and works with young groups on a regular basis.

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