Diversity and Outreach: The Book Thieves

03 Jan 2017 in Diversity and Outreach

5 mins
Diversity and Outreach: The Book Thieves

In 2016, through our See It, Make It programme, we have supported a number of participatory filmmaking projects for young people aged 7 - 19 that have had a strong focus on championing diversity, removing barriers to engagement and showcasing youth voices from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds.

The Proud Thieves was made by Ideal Films and young people aged 14 - 15 from St. Luke's School, Swindon.

The film sees 'Chicken Legs' and his gang of book thieves attempting to steal books from the avaricious Librarian, who won't let any students borrow books. Can they outsmart the incompetent Security Guards, who are armed with innocuous seeming finger pistols? Watch the film above to find out!

Below, Keith Phillips, Director of Ideal Films, discusses how working on the project helped the young people involved improve their confidence, discover new skills, and learn how to work together.

The young people learned how to approach storytelling through character and structure, and how to create a coherent arc. Whilst I encouraged them to give free rein to their imaginations and creativity, I also made sure they focused on the process of structuring and honing their story, and to think of a story as a whole, rather than just one thing happening after another.

Rather than having to focus on individual work and academic attainment, the young people were able to work as a team, sharing ideas, negotiating, and making compromises for the benefit of their joint project. They learned about cinematic storytelling: using images to tell their story, using interesting angles, shot sizes and camera movements to create meaning - planning and shooting with the edit in mind. 

These young people are in this school because they have behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. So for them to turn up on time, enthusiastic and ready to work hard and to work together is an excellent outcome.

Keith Phillips, Director of Ideal Films

To start with, they wrote a complete outline for their film. But after that, they planned, shot and edited each scene, one at a time, as they went along. At first, they struggled to pre-visualise how the shots they were doing would cut together. But by the end of the project they were able plan and shoot each scene almost independently, solving their own technical problems. They had developed an understanding of cinematic language and the ability to work as a team to put that into practice and make their ideas work on screen. 

Most of the young people expressed a huge confidence boost from shooting on iPads and editing on Final Cut Pro X. In terms of confidence boost, it would be hard to beat Tom's experience:

I loved it because for once I felt I was the centre of attention. I loved acting. I didn't feel invisible or small during the making of the film. It was an unusual feeling.

Tom, young filmmmaker from St. Luke's School

And for those who struggle with literacy, filmmaking gave them an opportunity they've never had before. 

'I would rather use an iPad to make a movie and tell my stories than to write it in a book', said Tiberius.

And they all really felt the benefit of the teamworking boost they got from filmmaking.

'It was great working as a team because even though we had our differences, we tried to work them out and agree', said Tom.

The general level of enthusiasm and dedication was a triumph for these young people. They worked really hard on some long shoot days, even to the level of asking to work through their break times. Joe demonstrated some unexpected leadership skills, taking the initiative to focus the other boys on the tasks at hand, while Callum demonstrated an unexpected skill in editing, with a great level of focus and determination.

The boys' teachers have reported a huge buzz about the project. These young people are in this school because they have behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. So for them to turn up on time, enthusiastic and ready to work hard and to work together is an excellent outcome. 

This Video is part of: Diversity and Outreach

See the results of our 2016 See It, Make It programme, in which our filmmaking projects focused on championing diversity and youth voice.

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