'Lives Not Knives' - An Into Film Club's powerful new knife-crime film

14 Jun 2019

5 mins
'Lives Not Knives' - An Into Film Club's powerful new knife-crime film

We are very excited to present Lives Not Knives, a powerful new film from Into Film Ambassador and former Teacher of the Year, Simon Pile and his Into Film Club at Anson Primary School in London.

The moving animation explores the timely issue of knife-crime through poetry and below, Simon delves into the film's collaborators and inspirations, the process of putting it together and where they plan to take the project next.

What was the genesis of the project? 

The project arose from our work with we.org. We are a WE School which means that over the last 5 years the children have taken part in workshops with the WE movement that give them the chance to think about how their voice can change things in their local community or globally. In the past we have raised money for local charities, collected for food banks and made films. Previously we tackled cyber-bullying with Finball Wizard and plastic pollution with Plastic Fantastic. This year the children in Year 6 wanted to focus on knife crime. With so many reports of children and young people becoming victims of knife crime, they wanted to use their voice to share a message that knives can only lead to tragic consequences. At a very early stage it became clear that this was going to be an animation set to poetry. One child in particular had already considered the words that should appear in the film but we wanted everyone to be involved.

How did you make the film? 

Initially we ran workshops with the children to think about their hopes and dreams for the future, taking each stage of their life so far and writing down the goals they had as babies, young children and what their aspirations were moving forwards. This gave us a strong narrative for the film. After that we began to gather together film of the activities they had mentioned. Then each frame of the films were imported into Keynote and the children in Year 5 & 6 began using drawing tools to trace the moving images frame by frame. With over 1000 images, this took months. Once the drawings were complete, they were all coloured green and exported as a movie. In Final Cut we then overlaid the moving images with static backdrops from around the school and commercially free content to create the finished product. The final voice recording was freestyled by Rico, a year 6 pupil, to make it personal, relevant and emotive.

How does film help pupils to explore important issues such as knife crime? 

We have used film for over a decade to give children a voice on a number of subjects. Without a doubt they feel a freedom to express themselves when using film in the classroom and this is even more true when they are not in front of the camera. The anonymity of this film means that everyone spoke freely about their thoughts, hopes and dreams. When you are dealing with a sensitive subject such as youth violence, cyber bullying or even pollution the creative process is critical to ensuring everyone understands and shares the messages and feels they have played a role. This film demonstrates the wonderful collaborative nature of filmmaking. With so many frames to be individually drawn it meant that the content was a real team effort, which was important for a film tackling such an emotive issue.

What hope do you and your pupils have for the film?

The children want every child in every school to see this film. The team at we.org in the UK have already forwarded the content to the Head Office in Canada, which increases the chances of the film being shared at Wembley Arena next year during WE Day and possibly at events around the world. Many of the children have spoken about how powerful it would be to have the film screened before family films at the cinema in the hope that the message can be shared with as many people as possible. If the film helps one young person stop carrying a knife, prevents one tragic incident, then it's had an impact.

Anson Primary School film club were previously nominated for an Into Film Award in 2018 for Finball Wizard. If you're feeling inspired by their films and the important issues they tackle - and want to have a go yourself - submissions are now open for the 2020 Into Film Awards! 

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