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Young People Get First Hand Experience At Film-Making In Wales

Youngsters across South Wales are getting first hand experience of filmmaking thanks to an education project supported by the recently established Film Agency for Wales.
This project has been supported by the Lottery through the UK Film Council’s First Light initiative, in conjunction with Communities First and youth inclusion projects. The aim is to build safer communities and tackle social exclusion through creative activity, whilst simultaneously enhancing film literacy and appreciation. It has received a match-funded £20,000 First Light Studio Award.
The initiative introduces young people to the art of filmmaking, while exploring and developing creative production techniques. Over 70 youngsters in four different project locations - Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Sandfields, Neath Port Talbot and Caerau, Bridgend - are involved in the scheme, under the guidance of project leader Antony Smith, Managing Director of Port Talbot based Tornado Films. The participants, aged 11-18, are primarily from disaffected backgrounds and have either been considered at risk of offending or have been excluded from mainstream education.
The youngsters are accessing digital film technology to produce four short films of up to ten minutes in duration. They are involved in all aspects of production, from script development to acting, from make-up to film management and from set design to directing. The films reflect the diversity of life and allow young people to explore new ideas and interpret issues of relevance to their lives.
In their production, the Tredegar group have chosen to mix live action with 3D animation and are developing their creative ideas around a drug-based theme. The Sandfields Story is a take on Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, dealing with gangland culture and confrontation. The film features a dramatic dance-off on Aberavon beach, with issues resolved through dance rather than through fists and fighting.
The Caerau project is working with a professional script writer to push boundaries in literature and produce a modern day Shakespeare piece, whilst the Rhondda Cynon Taf group are shortly due to meet to discuss the themes and format for their short film.
Antony Smith, Managing Director for Tornado Films, said: “This initiative is a wonderful opportunity for youngsters to channel their creative talents and learn about the world of filmmaking. The advent of digital technology has revolutionised the industry, making filmmaking more accessible to all. I have been encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by the participants and by their commitment to their projects. Supported by a team of experts and industry professionals, the youngsters are involved with all aspects of production and have the chance to experience different roles and responsibilities in the making of their film.”
Pauline Burt, Chief Executive of the Film Agency for Wales, added: “We are committed to supporting a diverse range of film and education initiatives across Wales and what better way to show this than by working at grass roots level with young people from disadvantaged and disaffected backgrounds. Tornedo have shown a previous commitment to working with young people, which we are pleased to build upon and First Light is a well established and respected body engaging in pioneering and exciting work, of which we are delighted to be a part.”
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