Into Film is a UK-wide programme providing young people aged 5 to 19 with a network of extra-curricular film clubs designed to encourage creative learning. As part of the Year of Young People 2018 initiative throughout Scotland, Into Film clubs from across the country have worked together with film practitioner Yasmin Al-Hadithi to create a collaborative film to showcase at the Youth Perspective event.
The piece was devised over the course of two workshops held with pupils aged 12 to 16 from schools in Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Pupils spent their day watching and discussing short films chosen by Yasmin Al-Hadithi – identified mainly from submissions to the festival – some of which were also made by young people on the topic of dealing with mental health issues.
Following the festival’s theme of Beginnings, the participants familiarised themselves with different film techniques in order to construct their project, ranging from the use of green screen to five shot sequences. This saw the young people improvise realistic scenarios within a school setting, with a focus on relationships and the ways in which they can affect you both negatively and positively – with one example being a scenario of a pupil dealing with acute anxiety in the run up to exams.
Additionally, pupils were introduced to two different types of animation – claymation and lightbox animation – and were encouraged to create a type of creature to represent a mental health problem. This was inspired by watching the short film Bulldoze, also screening at Youth Perspective, which uses puppetry to highlight the ways in which mental health can manifest itself. Al-Hadithi found it refreshing to explore this visual interpretation, explaining how the children could express how it might feel to have this type of problem introduced to a scene, concluding with the creature going away.
The event was also dedicated to encouraging participants to talk about mental health and learn how to express their thoughts and feelings through creative means. Discussing the benefits of a project like this, Al-Hadithi emphasised the power of the creative arts, commenting: ‘You could stand there and give them a lecture but it’s not going to have the same impact. If they see it in story form and then discuss it amongst themselves, that is them joining the dots from what they’ve seen through other stories and then relating it back to their own lives.’
This film will resonate with an older audience as they will understand that young people do indeed have a grip on these issues and that we can in fact speak to younger generations in a level-headed, open manner. For a younger audience, the film also has messages about how we can support each other and look after ourselves. By encouraging the participants to create footage to communicate to a wider audience, it keeps them part of the conversation on mental health issues beyond the one-day event – the pupils can feel that they have helped to raise awareness for other people.
by Katie McPeake
Katie is a third-year politics student at the University of Glasgow and Lifestyle Editor for qmunicate magazine. Fluent in English, French and memes, she is a keen cinema goer and is particularly passionate about raising mental health awareness amongst young people. Find her on twitter @katesiuol.
The film produced through this Into Film project premiered at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival on Friday 11 May, in our Youth Perspective event held as part of Year of Young People 2018. You can now watch the film here: