A youth empowerment project, using creative expression to empower youth at risk of offending.
Change The Story engaged a group of 10 young people aged 14 – 19 who are not in formal education and are at risk of offending, in a series of digital storytelling workshops, allowing them to share their personal stories around imprisonment and social exclusion. Project participants were trained in media production and were encouraged to create short films inspired by their lives.
Change The Story aimed to examine the use of digital storytelling as a tool for expressing life stories among youth at risk, as well as the power of film as a vehicle for self expression and a means to engage with others in meaningful and rewarding ways.
The project engaged an initial group of 25 participants, aged 14-19 from some of the North East’s most deprived areas, including Byker and Fawdon, who are at risk of offending or have experienced the prison system directly or though a family member, in a series of digital storytelling workshops. Project participants were identified by crime reduction charity NACRO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) in Walker, Newcastle.
The project was funded and supported by the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust , Newcastle University Research Centre for Film and Digital Media and Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal (NISR), allowing Principal Investigator Tina Gharavi and Bridge + Tunnel to develop and deliver a successful community engagement filmmaking project where young people, who have limited or non-existent access to creative and educational opportunities were trained and engaged in filmmaking activity, allowing them to express their unique voices.
“Getting the opportunity to make a short films. Loved everything, these weeks been amazing!”- Katelynne, 17
“This project has changed each one of us. We have learned about film but most importantly we have found a way to talk to others and show them what we feel. It has changed our lives.” – Tony, 16
- A group of 10 young people to acquire media production skill sets and to be exposed to novel educational and creative training contexts;
- A group of 5 students were given the chance to participate in the project, receive training but also acquire the chance to co-collaborate with primary beneficiaries;
- The project initiated a dialogue between the research community and members of the public, exploring the role of digital tools in advancing community engagement, advancing the production of new bodies of research and most importantly accomplishing social impact by directly engaging with communities on a grass- root level;
- Ten young people out of twenty six have expressed their interest in pursuing further training at both college and university level, as well as expressing their interest to complete apprenticeships in the creative media industry.
- Storytelling principles
- Story development
- Story boarding
- Script writing
- Production scheduling
- Camera training
- Sound recording
- Video editing
This gave them a solid foundation in the art of film, enabling them to create their own film over the course of the project. They were then advised on distribution, presentation and appropriate meta-tagging was offered in order for them to share their work via dedicated social media networks.
Project participants were also presented with a certificate of recognition, celebrating their participation and successful completion of the Change The Story filmmaking project.
Their complete work was publicly screened at an event attended by project team members and project volunteers, as well as invited guests, among them Newcastle University students, local creative media professionals, and NACRO representative and youth manager Chris Homans. It was a memorable evening that allow participants to showcase their films and share their experiences and learning outcomes.
“The Change The Story project has enabled NACRO to provide it’s learners with an opportunity to express their story in a way that they can relate and that is relevant to their peers. Young people feel empowered by the opportunity and feel it is giving them a voice. This wouldn’t be possible without Bridge + Tunnel Voices. Thank you!” – Chris Homans
“Just want to say a big thank you to nelly and dave for last night it was wicked food was gorgeous and it was a great honour to show out films!! I feel like a star haha” – Katelynne, 16, Facebook.
Change The Story succeeded in inspiring young people to be trained and engage in filmmaking activity in order to reflect and negotiate social issues. It also succeeded in allowing film to become a tool for self-expression and personal development as all participants were encourage to exercise creative agency, structure the project around their needs and to learn how to work with others and engage in co-collaborative digital storytelling.
Please find more about the project’s aims and objectives through the project’s evaluation report, which also includes additional testimonials, observations and selected case studies.
Final films are developed, produced and edited by participants themselves. This is their vision and story, told in their own words.
A suicide awareness film produced by three friends reflecting on their experience of losing loved ones. A film aimed at raising awareness and helping others.
A dark humoured crime/police story with a moral twist! As part of the production process the group was engaged in discussion over ethical notions of good/bad and ethical behaviour.
“The young people we met at NACRO were some of the most hard to reach participants I have ever had the pleasure of working with in 15+ years of community media engagement work. As the films demonstrate, this work was done with great care and hard work. While the films are not the most polished, these are authentic films, made ENTIRELY by the participants. At each stage, it was their decision making which drove these projects.Their sense of achievement and their pride taking part of this project will stay with me for a long, long time. These are young people who are often forgotten and rarely have access to the tools to make their voices heard.”
– Tina Gharavi, Filmmaker Tutor & Senior Lecturer Newcastle University
“Our role throughout this project was solely that of an instructor/facilitator; the energy and stories captured in these films belong to the young filmmakers. The editorial process was done entirely by the participants who insisted on maintaining a more unpolished look. Although being taught editing principles and techniques they wanted to complete the editing process on their own initiative and we respected and congratulated their decision.”
– Nelly Stavropoulou, Bridge + Tunnel Voices Development Manager, Project Manager
“I thought that the project was wonderful – it gave the young people involved a real sense of achievement and worth… You could tell that it meant a lot to them for their stories to be heard.”
-Paige Toomes, Newcastle Student Volunteer
This project could not have happened if it wasn’t for the funding from Centre for Film and Digital Media, Newcastle University, Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal (NISR), Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, BFI Into Film, and invaluable in kind support by Bridge + Tunnel Productions & Bridge + Tunnel Voices.
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