New Film given World Premiere in Trowbridge

on Monday, 03 June 2013. Posted in Art, Wiltshire People

This week I attended my first film premiere. I was delighted to join the actors, cameramen, graphic designers, photographers and voice actors of this new film, but this was no Hollywood affair with ‘A’ list celebrities, designer frocks, and red carpet. All the roles in this film were taken by local school pupils and members of the local community. Under the direction of award-winning film maker Jamie McDine, pupils from three Wiltshire schools worked with community members to produce short films animating their life stories.

This striking image was created by film-maker Jamie McDine as the cover image for the DVDs. He was inspired by the title of the project SEEME which refers to black history as hidden history, because the stories of black people are very hard to find amongst the millions of documents held in archives.

An invited audience of 80 guests eagerly awaited the first screening of the films that they had made. They had taken acting roles, filmed and created animations for the films, but none had seen the final version with music, captions and the thoughtful editing that creates the finished product. All the students had committed to 6 sessions of work on the film, and for the secondary school pupils that was in their own time. They then had a wait of 6 weeks whilst Jamie edited the films ready for production. All the students, their families and the other invited guests were impressed by the professional, powerful and at times humorous films that we watched. All the hard work had been rewarded with a finished product that the participants can feel justly proud of.

The project was part of the education work carried out by Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre together with local community groups as part of the SEEME black history project, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery fund. Over the last 2 years, a team of volunteers, many of them pupils of local schools, have interviewed members of the black community in Wiltshire. Short clips taken from a dozen life stories were animated by the students using a variety of techniques. Sixth form students from Matravers School, Westbury created a film on the theme of Reactions and Racism. They spent hours creating stop-motion animation and one of the students demonstrated her talent for drawing creating brilliant characters for a scene about army life. Students from Clarendon Academy, Trowbridge based their film on the theme of Identity and animated some of the community members whose stories feature in the film. Kandinsky Class from Holbrook Primary School made a film about First Impressions of the UK. They drew scenes on a graphics tablet which they really enjoyed and acted out scenes for all three of the films helping to bring the childhood experiences of community elders to life.

Junior Richardson of Clarendon Academy presents Cherry Ann Knott, Heritage Lottery Fund south west committee member, with a DVD of the films, together with local community member Kulchalee.

All three films will be kept as part of the project archive at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. Later this year they will be available online as part of the educational resources being developed for the project. As well as these 3 brilliant films that will really bring the stories to life for students, there will be 60 short audio clips selected from the archive of stories based on themes including experiences of work, childhood memories, food and culture. These resources will be available free for schools, so that pupils across the county can find out more about the diverse communities that make up Wiltshire today.

The films are also available to view on YouTube; please see the links below.

Laurel Miller
Education Officer

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