Diversity and Outreach: SMASH

12 Dec 2016 in Diversity and Outreach

4 mins
Diversity and Outreach: SMASH

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.

SMASH was made by Cut Limited and S.M.A.S.H., supporting young people from Hull aged 11 to 13 who have mental health problems.

The film is an honest and enlightening insight into a group of young women who attend the support programme S.M.A.S.H., which provides young people with restorative and peer to peer support, as they talk candidly about their hopes and fears.

Below, Annabel McCourt, founder and director of Cut Limited, discusses how working on the project helped the young people involved improve their confidence, resilience and creative skills.

I can genuinely say that every one of the twelve participants benefited enormously from the project, both in terms of their own resilience skills, boosted via the medium of film education, but also via their creative awakenings.

Annabel McCourt, founder and director of Cut Limited

For this particular project, Cut Ltd identified a group of young people from S.M.A.S.H. which stands for Self Mediation and Self-Help. The group is all about building resilience in order to cope with the pressures of modern life, forming part of a bigger project tackling mental health issues for young people. Cut has been working with a group of girls who attend S.M.A.S.H. once a week, away from their regular secondary school, essentially, a form of early intervention with the goal of keeping the pupils in mainstream education. Issues vary from lack of self-confidence, anxiety, anger management etc. often centred around chaotic lives with huge challenges faced on a daily basis.

The young people experience chaotic lives on a daily basis and this was abundantly clear during the workshops - not just demonstrated by the behaviours exhibited but also during visits from Young Persons Specialist Services (YPSS) and multi-agency workers during the actual workshops. One individual was being questioned about a very serious accusation regarding her temporary foster placement, taking her time and (obviously) attention away from her filmmaking role within the group. However, she was able to return to her role, demonstrating incredible natural ability and all of this following an extremely challenging situation. 

Seemingly slow progress was often instrumental in developing trust and fostering confidence with major milestones accelerating week by week. This heightened the sense of achievement for all concerned. The feedback has highlighted exceptionally positive outcomes for the young people, especially due to their low self- esteem and behavioural issues. These issues are so prevalent within the group, they have to attend a special programme in order to build their mental health resilience.

This film has helped me in many ways, including being able to connect with something that has been happening with other people and how they solved their problems and it helps me to solve mine. Also it has helped with my confidence and being able to volunteer at something I didn't want to do, but tried it and enjoyed it and want to do it again.

Young filmmaker

Several of the young people have shown genuine ability and have been demonstrating their new-found skills on their mobile devices. Their shot composition has developed a real level of sophistication and their media literacy will be put to good future use.

There are plans for further film projects within the group, initially to create training tools for other young people experiencing mental health issues, but also to make the most of renewed artist impetus within the region - Hull City of Culture 2017, for example.

The group were particularly keen to experience a future film festival, especially having watched Cut produced films and their success on the Into Film red carpet! They were already discussing what they would like to wear if their film enjoyed such success! One of the young people struggled to say as much as hello at the start of the project but by the end of the project, was able to feedback the following: 

I feel much more confident and less shy. It's a good opportunity to express feelings and learning how to do mid-shots and angles. I didn't expect myself to get in front of the camera, but I saw everyone else doing it, so I thought I'd have a go and I felt really proud and confident. The thing I like most about using the camera is filming and having a go at it.

I can genuinely say that every one of the twelve participants benefited enormously from the project, both in terms of their own resilience skills, boosted via the medium of film education but also via their creative awakenings. 

Diversity and Outreach
Young filmmakers from S.M.A.S.H.

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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