Diversity and Outreach: SSL

02 Nov 2016 in Diversity and Outreach

5 mins
Diversity and Outreach: SSL

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.

SSL was made by Mutt & Jeff Pictures and Heathlands School for Deaf Children, St Albans, supporting nineteen young people aged 10 - 13 who are deaf or have hearing impairments. 

In SSL, the Stop Sign Language police arrest the headteacher of a school for deaf children because everyone in the school uses British Sign Language (BSL). Signing is now banned only speaking is allowed! The children make a plan to rescue their headteacher and to fight for their right to use BSL.

Below, Louis Neethling, the lead filmmaker from Mutt & Jeff Pictures, discusses the filmmaking process and the positive effect it has had on the group of young filmmakers.

It was a positive and empowering experience for them to see the possibility that they too might one day be a director, animator, make up artist, etc.

Louis Neethling, lead filmmaker from Mutt & Jeff Pictures
SSL filmmakers from Heathlands School for Deaf Children

This was the first time that the children had worked with Deaf film professionals in their own language. It was a positive and empowering experience for them to see the possibility that they too might one day be a director, animator, make up artist etc.

The project identified a range of positive outcomes for the young people taking part. The children talked about gaining the confidence to try out new things. They talked about their sense of achievement - their film that they had made by themselves was shown on a huge screen in front of an audience! The teacher mentioned an improvement in teamwork between the different year groups, the fact that all the children couldn't wait for Friday afternoon's session, improved behaviour and engagement with learning, improved communication between each other and linking the skills they were learning each week to the National Curriculum.

One of the biggest triumphs of the project was the teamwork between the children. There are some very strong characters in the group and when it mattered everyone pulled together. The teacher was pleased that whatever skills or knowledge the children had before the project everyone was able to participate and feel part of the team. The teacher now wants to start a lunchtime film club and most of the children expressed a desire to learn more about editing.

At the start of the ten week teaching sessions there was a 10 year old girl always sitting quietly in the front row. She never said anything or put her hand up to answer questions - and when I asked about who might be interested in doing a storyboard for the film - it was her friends who pointed her out as being very good at drawing and probably the best person to do this. As the weeks went by I noticed that this girl started getting involved in more and more different areas of the film project from writing the script with another girl to acting (which she had never done before because she's so shy) and even doing a little directing. The girl has grown in confidence and seems empowered by her recent filming experience.

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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