As summarised by IntoFilm, “with the future uncertain during the current pandemic sweeping the globe, cinema has become more important to us than ever before. Film often raises issues around emotional wellbeing and can be used to begin conversations about a variety of complicated feelings”
This November our focus was on the relationship between film and wellbeing. We used our Instagram platform to highlight 20 films from 20 years to get you through lockdown 2.0.
The first week was all about that cosy autumn feeling. We wanted to recommend films that might make you feel nostalgic or even add a new favourite film to your collection for rainy days. Films we selected were:
- Billy Elliot
- Waking Life
- About a boy
- Goodbye lenin!
We called the second week 'itchy feet'. Anticipating that many of us may have started to the outside world by this time, recommending films full of adventure and hope:
- The Life Aquatic
- Little Miss Sunshine
- Into the Wild
Week three’s theme was 'You’ve got a Friend in me'. Some of us will have been spending lockdown alone and most of us will have been missing someone during these strange times. Films we recommended to keep you company were:
- The Help
- Perks of being a Wallflower
- The Book Thief
Finally, week four was about the final push and making the best of the situation! Although we knew that things wouldn’t exactly be going back to normal once lockdown was lifted, there was hope at the end of the tunnel. To encourage perseverance, we recommended:
- The Martian
- Hidden Figures
- On the basis of sex.
Below are some of the links we recommended to explore how watching films can help boost wellbeing.
We were thrilled to launch our BFI Film Academy this September. Although there have been challenges to overcome when delivering a course that was previously entirely face-to-face, predominantly over Zoom, we are thrilled at the commitment, creativity and resilience our young participants are showing.
In their time with us they have gained hands-on experience with industry standard filmmaking equipment, been guided by industry professionals, had masterclasses with Sophie Littman (Director), Mick Audsley (Editor of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, no less!) and our very own Deb Richardson. In these uncertain times, they have even been able to make films!
We have been overwhelmed with the high quality of work the participants are producing in their Arts Award blogs, screenplays and in their filmmaking. We look forward to seeing their finished film at the end of the month and are delighted that some participants are making plans to work with us is the future.
Here are some pictures of group 1 and 2 filming 'Bad Job', written by Richard Addison.
On September 1st we re-opened the Engine Room. Our Café manager Ania had been working tirelessly to develop a new and delicious vegetarian menu, decorate the café and put safety measures in place.
The result was a successful re-opening. We saw the return of café regulars, our drop-in sessions with technical manager Dan Gale resumed, and our room hires we're underway once again.
Of course, anyone visiting us would have noticed some changes. Our café tables, for example, we're socially distanced with shields separating them, all staff members wore PPE and antibacterial wipes were placed in each room. We didn't feel worried that any of our fellow community members would be put off by these changes, we knew that you would take them in your stride, knowing it was for the best, and we were right!
Although we have had to close the Engine Room temporarily, once again, we feel reassured and inspired by the every single person that came through our doors or connected with us digitally over the past months.
The times are changing, but our community remains strong. We are moved by the support we have received and delighted at the extent to which our Arts Council Recovery Fund success was celebrated.
Of course we are sad to have closed our doors once again, but we remain hopeful, knowing that we'll be back.
Please note that although our building (including the café) are closed at the moment, we remain busy delivering online courses, workshops, activities and events through which we aim to continue to support, engage and communicate with you through. You can find out more here.
With gratitude and hope,
Alisa Čengić, Assistant producer
Somerset is full of talented young people who, during lockdown, expressed themselves creativity through art, dance, rap, poetry and much more.
Last month, we collaborated with Somerset based Youth Charity Young Somerset on Creative Me. We invited young artists to record and share their creativity with us, so that we could shine a spotlight on them.
Young Somerset works towards “encouraging them (young people) to take responsibility for themselves and become actively involved in shaping the communities in which they live”. We, Somerset Film, are dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through film and digital technology.
At the beginning of August, with our dream team assembled, we were ready to see what Young Somerset had been up to.
We asked young creatives to submit their work on our website or via email, accepting all forms of art and creativity; films, music, painting, poetry and anything else you can think of!
We also asked them to answer one or more of the questions below (as many as they liked!). They were free to express their answers through their art or simply drop us an email:
How have you stayed creative during this time?
How does it make you feel when you dance, sing, make art?
What are your creative arts dreams/aspirations for the future?
We we’re absolutely thrilled with the submissions received. If you missed out on this opportunity and would still like to take part please email your contribution (art or answers to questions above) to email@example.com.
We are currently planning an online Open Day for young creatives in Somerset. This will be an opportunity to find out more about what we do at Somerset Film and for young people to ask questions. We will also be featuring the brilliant contributions received.
In other creative news, check out the Let's SHiNE Together 2020 video, edited by Somerset Film's Dan Gale.
"Let’s SHiNE Together is our online alternative to the Octagon’s annual community performance platform, SHiNE. Each year SHiNE is our chance to celebrate and showcase local talent with performances from local dance schools to the Octagon’s very own Choir, offering a platform to people of all ages to perform on our regional stage."
Thanks for reading, we hope to see you soon, online or in person!
Alisa, our assistant producer writes….
When I found out that I had successfully secured the position of Assistant Producer late last year, I was thrilled because I knew I’d be working within the film industry supporting communities/individuals to express themselves creatively and because I’d be working for a company that shared my passion for our planet. As the Social media lead for Somerset Film, I was excited to get the go-ahead on dedicating a whole month to #PlasticFreeJuly. Our work at the Engine Room is all about education, community and technology. I quickly got stuck in to using technology to teach myself and our followers about the plastic free community/movement.
We engaged with #PlasticFreeJuly through our Instagram page using the following hashtags:
#MovieMonday - Each Monday we recommended one film about Plastic Pollution. "Film can be a powerful educational tool, especially for children with disabilities and from deprived backgrounds".
#TipTuesday - On Tuesdays we posted plastic free tips. Although focused on tips for filmmakers/ industry professionals they were applicable to all.
#WednesdayWisdom - Wednesday's were all about motivational quotes to help inspire us to act. "Reading an excerpt or a line of text that offers a new perspective or idea to your own set of thoughts, beliefs, and understandings can spur further ideas in you, and back up the ideas you’re already forming". - creativelive.com
#ThrowBackThursday (#TBT) - On each Thursday of the month we posted films produced by Somerset Film that relate to plastic pollution/ climate change. Many of the films were made by young people and are absolutely brilliant! You can find them on our YouTube page.
#FridayFeeling - Each Somerset Film employee is passionate about our planet and we're enjoyed sharing some of our thoughts and feelings with you.
I thoroughly enjoyed the research process for each post, as I was able to expand my knowledge on the subject, but what was most exciting was audience engagement. I was delighted to see that some of our followers were learning alongside us and spreading the word too! It was also amazing to find out that every single Engine Room staff member was already taking steps in their day to day life to reduce plastic and actively looking to learn more about the subject.
As movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #DressLikeAWoman prove time and time again, Social Media has the power to bring us together, educate us and aid us in creating change. Here at the Engine Room we are passionate about supporting good causes and are always looking for new ways to support each other, our community and the planet.
Alisa, our assistant producer writes...
In June 2020 our focus was on Pride month. To celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride I used our instagram platform to spotlight LGBT films.
I broke our celebration down as follows:
Week 1: LGBT films featuring the black community
Week 2: International LGBT Cinema
Week 3: LGBT Youth
Week 4: LGBT films featuring people with disabilities/ health conditions
I used each letter in SOMERSET FILM CELEBRATES PRIDE as a 'learning point' e.g. E is for Equality to provide information and encourage others to celebrate pride with us.
Somerset Film is a proud champion of equality, inclusion and diversity. As Pride month comes to a close we want to ensure that we remain committed to and engaged with the LGBTQIA+ community and are currently working on exploring partnerships with local community organisations.
Our Pride celebration can also be seen on our Instagram page!
Click here to watch the Somerset Film Pride Playlist! You can watch specific trailers from our Pride playlist by clicking on the playlist icon (top right). Alternatively, sit back, let the playlist play and celebrate pride!
Thanks for reading!
Alisa Čengić, Assistant Producer
Richard, our creative technologist writes...
A couple of weeks before lockdown partners Somerset Film and Action Track Performance Company, facilitated the first of many planned music & filmmaking workshops with twelve residents of Wellington, a small market town in rural Somerset. The plan was to produce a film, with a soundtrack intended to be performed live, to showcase at a new film festival Wellington on Screen in September 2020.
Our creative and enthusiastic group of participants decided that they would use the opportunity to make a film that shone a light on the built and natural environment of Wellington, the place where they live and work.
The group’s enthusiasm was matched by their imagination, reflected in the idea that the film would be seen through the eyes of a gargoyle attached to the side of St. Johns church. This gargoyle has seen many things throughout its life: the cycle of the seasons, the Reformation, the major rebuilding of the town after the fire of 1731, the arrival of the Grand Western Canal in 1835, the arrival of the M5 motorway in the 60s and 70s. Maybe the gargoyle was aware that we were about to enter into our another moment in history (at least in our own lifetimes)? We like to imagine that if the gargoyle was in attendance at that first filmmaking workshop it could have, perhaps, pre-warned us that we were about to embark on a period of uncertainty and anxiety brought about by the sudden Covid lockdown of our communities.
The lockdown seems to have suppressed just about every aspect of our lives: from going to work, to meeting friends, to popping to the shops. However, it doesn’t seem to be able to suppress creativity. In fact, the opposite is true. Individuals across the country, who wouldn’t normally spend time making art, are busy designing visual statements in support of our health workers and exhibiting them in their windows. Social media has come alive with fantastic work by first time poets, musicians and photographers. The Wellington on Screen group are no exception to this.
Within days we agreed that we would respond creatively to the challenges we now faced. A WhatsApp group was set up to ensure participants and facilitators could keep each other posted on the project’s progress. In the absence of filmmaking kit that would normally be provided by Somerset Film we reviewed the resources available to individuals and the group made the decision to continue the shoot using their mobile phones. Working within the lockdown boundaries set out by the government the group discovered ingenious ways of documenting the previously busy footpaths, streets, parks and supermarkets. Significant moments, such as the weekly clap for the NHS, never-before seen queues at supermarkets and wildlife reclaiming spaces, are all in the process of being documented and archived on the project WhatsApp group.
The editing process, that would normally involve the transportation of desktop computers and a lot of power cables, is being carried out via online editorial sessions. This resilient group are even continuing to produce original score through the same platforms with Actiontrack. The daily notification sounds of latest material posted and messages of response and encouragement also providing a musical accompaniment all of its own - to a project that hasn’t stopped, to a creative community.
The group are moving forwards, working within boundaries placed upon them, producing their unique film portrait of their lives and the place they live, all seen through the eyes of a gargoyle.
Together they will ensure that the film will be produced on schedule and, one way or another, a movie will be showcased in September, whatever form that might take.