Signals’ Plug In Creatives is an artist development programme supporting creative technologists in developing their skills as workshop leaders and community project workers.
Plug In Creatives artist Maddie Exton recently completed her workshops as part of the scheme, where she delivered five workshops on film making to year 6 students in Harwich. We had a chat with Maddie about facilitating these workshops, how they went, and in what ways they informed her own artistic practice.
Conceptual Artist and Writer
A conceptual artist and writer, as she puts it, she ‘makes things and makes things happen’. Research and project based, she works across sculpture, film, performance, text and drawing. Her work focuses on examining life, to highlight poetics and connections.
I was really pleased to be selected for this project, to connect with other creative workshop facilitators and to be in a room with people who understand what I do. After our training, I was paired with a primary school in Harwich to work with their year sixes for five weeks delivering filmmaking workshops on a key stage two curriculum topic.
This particular school has a relationship with Electric Palace cinema, who invite the school to show student films and welcome them to the world famous cinema. Another aim of this project was to make the teachers feel confident using all the technology so that they could approach the prospect of filmmaking with confidence in future and maintain the relationship with the cinema.
Working to a theme
The key stage two history curriculum covers the history of World War 2 and this was set as our theme, allowing a cross curriculum opportunity between history and computing. We started out watching and analysing trailers from different famous war films, which the kids immediately took to.
The subsequent workshops gave opportunity for participants to try our all the different filmmaking roles like cinematographer, director, actor, lighting specialist and sound specialist – all of which allowed space for each child to feel comfortable, important and motivated. We spent a few weeks plotting then filming, for which prop design and acting became a real focus. We followed these sessions with editing workshops.
I was really pleased to get the chance to work with filmmakers Jamie Weston and Jamie Pascoe who could offer video editing expertise, which the kids really respected. My philosophy for facilitation has really steered toward co-production rather than ‘teaching’, so it was great to be able to show up each week and everybody understands that we’re all learning. Because of the length of the workshops, we were able to establish enough trust with each other for the kids to steer and input in the session. They pitched in the final session that they wanted to design posters for their films. I’m a visual artist so I was more than happy to run with this– it was exciting and rewarding for all parties.
A Rewarding Experience
In the final stages of the film and editing it, they learnt that everyone’s role in the fabrication was equally important which forced them to work together and see that value. For the last week, I had planned a film festival where we watched each other’s films. I had the kids design awards for 5 categories: best motion picture, best editing, best use of sound, best acting and best story.
We held an awards ceremony and everybody got to vote for a winner in each category. It was a really rewarding experience. My formal education is in Fine Art, but I really enjoy branching out into projects like this where I can use other skills and put my tech knowledge to use.