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Bernadette and Charlotte Smith

Bernadette and Charlotte first got involved in media projects thanks to an initiative by the Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service in Gateshead.

Bernadette was aged 11 at the start of the project, Charlotte 13. Their whole family was involved.

Purpose of Involvement

To create opportunities to find out about different forms of media and have hands-on experience.

What the Participants Say

Charlotte: “My favourite part of the project was probably filming the Holy Communion film. It was good to be able to use the digital camera and the video camera.”

Bernadette: “Every part of it was new – trying out the video shoot, taking photos, editing. The best bit was looking through all the video pictures when we were logging, it was a good experience, felt really interesting .”

What Happened

First DVD – Bernadette’s First Communion
Bernadette was excited about her forthcoming Communion, having taken part in that of her older sister Charlotte. The family liked the idea of a record of this special occasion so Bernadette and Charlotte were shown how to shoot video interviews with each other. Bernadette filmed Charlotte reminiscing about her own experience while showing the dress she designed and has kept. The Charlotte filmed Bernadette showing us all the clothes and accessories she was preparing. The two sisters then discussed the meaning of the event. On the day Digital Voice recorded video pictures because the two girls were taking part in the ceremony, and these were mixed with still photographs taken by the family.

Charlotte’s Book – “Bash Bang Kids: Safe as Houses?”
Charlotte enjoyed learning about photography. She took a camera around the site where her family live and decided to take photos to show how improvements could be made. Her photographs were excellent, so strong that her photography mentor suggested she make a short book with them and add text explaining her arguments. Charlotte designed four montages to illustrate specific areas of concern, selected individual pictures and wrote words to go with them. The book was presented to the Deputy Mayor of Gateshead, the head of the housing department and all the schools taking part; it won Charlotte an award at her own school.

DVD series – Family Videos
After enjoying their first video experience, Bernadette took on a real challenge! Like many families, hers had a drawer full of video tapes shot over more than a decade. It was decided to edit these down into six different highlights films – one for each child, one of shared family occasions and one showing relatives as well. The rushes were transferred onto a hard drive and Bernadette spent two days working with a mentor logging it all. Then she learned how to edit, and on her own laptop created her own film. She worked with an edit mentor to supervise the edit for the other five.

Animated film – The Haunted Trailer
Both girls took part in a group workshop to create a short film based on a true story told about the former Traveller site located where The Sage Gateshead is now based. They held develop the storyboard, and drew and cut out characters which were then brought to life in stop frame animation. Bernadette recorded the voiceover.

Benefits for Participants

Media skills: both sisters gained insights into a range of media skills through introductory workshops, outreach training in their home, and working with mentors. They learned about video, digital photography, animation and making a book. Equipment was left with the family so that they could practice in their own time.

Generic skills: the projects needed the ability to listen and learn; the patience and determination to practice over a period of time; working on their own and also in a team; motivation to develop their own creative ideas.

Confidence-building: the projects resulted in a range of public appearances and praise – it was initially a little daunting but was extremely well-deserved. Bernadette was interviewed in front of a large audience at a Gateshead Celebration event, and Charlotte made presentations to senior representatives of the council and schools, before receiving her book from the Deputy Mayor.

Sharing their lives with others: the end result has been that the films and book have become high profile in their schools and local community, giving insight into aspects of their lives which they feel are important. They are now included in an educational pack distributed across the UK.

Sharing the Results with Others

  • Two end-of-project screenings for participants
  • Screening at Celebration event for schools across Gateshead attended by the Mayor
  • Traveller Tales exhibition at St Mary’s Heritage Centre Gateshead, to mark the recognition of Travellers as separate cultural group in the 2011 Census. Launch attended by Deputy Mayor
  • UK educations resource sent to schools and traveller liaison departments for use with classes and groups

Client and/or Funder

This project was funded by Awards for All, and two Trusts – the William Handley Trust and Roy and Pixie Baker Charitable Trust. The equipment was funded by the E-Lamp project.

Who Else Would Benefit from this sort of Project?

Digital Voice aims to build on the individual interests of participants – this often produces excellent ideas and maintains enthusiasm throughout the project.

How to Find Out More

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