Smashed: Engaging young people in a participatory media/arts project to explore issues of youth binge drinking BIG hART INC AUGUST 2011
Table of Contents 1.
Executive Summary .................................................................................................................... 5 Strategy 1 – Engage young people in a participatory, culturally relevant media/arts project to explore the issue of youth binge drinking ....................................................................................... 5 Strategy 2 – Encourage Community Support for youth developed initiatives .................................... 7 Strategy 3 – Provide a platform for young people to share their experiences, concerns and ideas with the community to raise awareness about youth binge drinking ....................................................... 7 Strategy 4 – Provide an educational resource ................................................................................. 9
Target groups reached ................................................................................................................ 9
Outcomes .................................................................................................................................. 9 Media Coverage .......................................................................................................................... 11
Feedback from students, teachers and the community ............................................................. 12
1. Executive Summary The Smashed Project challenged Year 9, 10 & 11 students on the North West Coast of Tasmania to tackle the issue of youth binge drinking through the creative medium of filmmaking. The project was designed to be a culturally desirable and generation-relevant education strategy to engage young people in the issue and support them to make a positive contribution to the community discussion. The project culminated in the Smashed Film Festival which screened to the local community, providing a platform for the students to showcase their work and express their concerns and attitudes toward binge drinking. The aims and objectives of Smashed included to: • influence the attitudes and behaviours of young people; • promote positive peer messages about responsible alcohol consumption; • empower young people to lead opinions concerning binge drinking; and • provide a platform for young people to share their experiences, concerns and ideas with the community. Four strategies were implemented to achieve the aims and objectives of the project.
Strategy 1 – Engage young people in a participatory, culturally relevant media/arts project to explore the issue of youth binge drinking Presentations were given to schools and community organisations to recruit students to participate in Smashed as follows: • Wynyard High School; • Latrobe High School; • Burnie High School; • Marist Regional College; • Hellyer Polytechnic; • Cradle Coast Authority; and • Burnie Wynyard Liquor Accord.
Smashed established weekly arts based workshops at Wynyard High School, Burnie High School, Marist Regional College and Latrobe High School. The issue of binge drinking was central to building an inclusive workshop environment where students participated in open and frank discussions. A Facebook page was created for each high school group to facilitate relevant and timely communication with students outside of workshop times.
Smashed delivered 28 arts workshops at each of the four high schools as follows: • three issue discussion workshops; • two concept development workshops; • four camera, sound, and lighting workshops; • two interview techniques workshops; • four scriptwriting workshops; • two storyboarding workshops; • two production planning workshops; • five editing workshops; • three event management workshops; and • one film festival planning day. Students crewed on 12 films averaging three days for each film.
Strategy 2 – Encourage Community Support for youth developed initiatives Smashed was supported by community partners The Burnie Wynyard Liquor Accord and the Cradle Coast Authority who were ambassadors for the project through their extensive networks. Both organisations recruited members to participate in research interviews conducted by the student filmmakers about the issue of binge drinking. Students interviewed the Head of Accident & Emergency at North West Regional Hospital, local hoteliers, restaurant operators, police and taxi drivers to hear first-hand experiences about the issue. The Youth Community Development Officer at Burnie City Council invited the Smashed filmmakers to participate in the North West Region’s Youth Expo in Devonport. Students interviewed their peers about the issue. Local businesses supported the project by providing locations, props and catering for film shoots. The student filmmakers recruited family, peers and community members to become involved in the filmmaking process as extras, crew members or interviewees.
Strategy 3 – Provide a platform for young people to share their experiences, concerns and ideas with the community to raise awareness about youth binge drinking The student filmmakers were involved in the event management of the Smashed Film Festival which premiered at the Metro Cinema in Burnie on 1 August 2011 at 6.30pm. The 37 students presented their films to a community audience of 250 people including local politicians and community partner representatives. The filmmakers led a post screening discussion, fielding questions from the audience and sharing the inspiration behind their films. Each participating high school was awarded a Go Pro
digital camera and book on the scriptwriting process to augment their audio visual resources and encourage further filmmaking as a vehicle for learning.
The Smashed Film Festival toured to participating high schools and was screened to all Year 9 & 10 students followed by a forum discussion led by the student filmmakers as follows: • Wynyard High School – Tuesday 2 August 160 students, 15 teachers, 10 community members; • Marist Regional College – Wednesday 3 August 300 students, 10 teachers, 5 community members; • Burnie High School – Thursday 4 August 195 students, 5 teachers, 6 community members; and • Latrobe High School – Friday 5 August 120 students, 6 teachers, 3 community members. 12 students from Smashed presented their films to the Cradle Coast Authority Council Representative meeting at the Ulverstone Civic Theatre on Thursday 25 August 2011. At the conclusion of the screening the students discussed the power of film in engaging audiences to consider issues from new perspectives. Four films from the Smashed Film Festival were selected to screen as part of the Youth Arc Film Festival in Hobart on 26 August – a showcase of recent films made by, and in collaboration with, young Tasmanian filmmakers – films that cut across genres; capturing the diverse approaches that filmmaking embodies in a digital world. Films that exemplify the vision and awareness of fledgling artists with a desire to retell, react, make light of, counter and question. The screening phase of Smashed highlighted the issue through stimulating peer interest, feedback and criticism within the broader school communities.
Strategy 4 – Provide an educational resource The Smashed Film Festival were compiled on a DVD to be distributed to student filmmakers, participating high schools, councils and community partner organisations. The films have been uploaded to YouTube to enable students to share their films with a broader group of peers.
2. Target groups reached Smashed engaged 37 students from Years 9 – 11 at four high schools on the North West Coast of Tasmania to produce 12 short films on the theme of youth binge drinking: • Eight Students from Year 9 & 10 at Wynyard High School; • 12 Students from Year 10 at Burnie High School; • 12 Students from Year 10 & 11 at Marist Regional College; and • Seven Students from Year 10 at Latrobe High School. A broader group of young people aged 12-24 years were involved in the project as talent in films, crew on film shoots and participants in panel discussions. The films screened to a high school audience of 755 students in years 9 to 11.
3. Outcomes Weekly school-based arts workshops provided a safe and creative environment for students to explore the issue of binge drinking and have a voice. Thirty-seven students learnt storytelling and technical filmmaking skills and had the opportunity to work with a team of professional filmmakers and artists. Through the creative process of brainstorming ideas, sharing experiences, imagining a concept, crafting a script, planning a film, crewing a film shoot, editing the footage and screening a film at the cinema; 37 students engaged in the issue of binge drinking. Smashed adopted an innovative approach to initiating meaningful discussions with young people about binge drinking, involving them in creative workshops at a time when they are at their most impressionable and formative stage. In evaluation discussions Big hART Arts Workers likened the project’s process as an alternative to binge drinking. Young people binge drink for many reasons experimentation, socialising, celebration, to escape boredom, relax or forget problems. Smashed provided many of those experiences utilising filmmaking as a means to harness the student’s innate sense of imagination, creativity and play. Smashed explored the dualistic nature of the issue vs the solution, i.e. that binge drinking is a solution for isolation and inhibition but so too is creative socialisation. The process of shooting a film with a team of students and the involvement of friends, local businesses and community members gave them an experience of communal and companionship behaviour; something they might seek to find ways to replicate in their future experiences rather than via the inevitable contact with drinking.
Presenting their films to the community at the Smashed Film Festival was an empowering experience for the students. Rather than being spoken about, the young people spoke for themselves and took the lead on the issue and grew in self-confidence. The design of Smashed was based on current research and evaluation regarding participatory processes, in particular, in projects tackling issues around health and wellbeing. Jensen & Simovska (2005) outline sustainable health promoting changes presuppose ownership developed through participation. Smashed has facilitated this on three levels: • direct participation by student filmmakers; • broader group of students in voluntary help on film shoots and event management; and • audience at the screening of the Short Film Competition. The ownership of the students on Smashed is evidenced by: • consistent engagement of students in weekly workshops; • commitment of students in organising and crewing film shoots; • participation in film shoots and editing sessions - activities involving long hours outside of workshop times and usually during holidays and weekends; and • production of 12 short films. The diversity of the films highlight the students’ different views on the topic and explore related issues such as community, conformity, responsibility, pride, escapism, belonging and the environment. Students selected different genres to express their ideas on the issue from drama and comedy through to documentary. Smashed developed responsibility in the students, which occurs in the collective process of filmmaking and the ownership the students develop for the film they have generated and shared with their peers and the broader community. Dr Peter Wright (2009) notes that young people are often underestimated and will rise to the occasion when given the opportunity.
The success of the arts workshop activities has been measured by: • the consistent engagement of the 37 students from the 4 high schools in each stage of the project; • demonstrated increased skill levels of students in writing, filming, editing and working as a team; • support, encouragement and praise from the teaching staff at the schools; • involvement of teaching staff in workshops and film shoots; • successful completion and screening of 12 short films; and • high school screenings of the Smashed Film Festival to an assembly of all Year 9 & 10 students.
Media Coverage Advocate Thursday 12 August 2010
“Students focus on binge drinking”
Sunday Examiner 31 October 2010
“Zombies, skateboards in teen drinking film event” Advocate Friday June 10, 2011 “Students on a film binge”
Advocate 30 July 2011
“Students tackle the big issues”
Advocate Tuesday 2 August 2011
“Students’ films to shine as they hit the screen”
ABC Radio Northern Tasmania
Interview by Elaine Harris
A story featured in the September issue of S-press - a free student magazine distributed to over 3,000 schools, youth centres, local libraries and youth hot spots across metropolitan and regional Australia.
4. Feedback from students, teachers and the community The growing profile of the project sparked involvement of other students and community members in the film shoots. This broadened the reach of the project, sparked numerous conversations about the project and the issue of binge drinking and generated interest in the film festival and subsequent school screenings. School principals have noted the consistent involvement of their students in the workshops and remarked on their pride and enthusiasm for their films. The Latrobe High Assistant Principal commented the success the student filmmakers were experiencing on the project was of special significance for two students who struggled to remain engaged in schooling. The two students had nominated to represent their film in 3 of the 4 school screenings and forum discussions. On Friday 29 September the 37 students involved in Smashed were involved in a one-day workshop to plan the cinema premiere and subsequent school screenings and forums. It was an opportunity to come together and share their films and experiences and practice talking about their films to an audience. A number of students who were shy and lacking confidence volunteered to present their films. One student who had a slight speech difficulty, spoke with clarity and pride about his film. When students were asked if they would do the project again every single student answered ‘yes!’ Big hART arts workers have observed the project has instilled a sense of achievement in the students. At the conclusion of the premiere a number of parents spoke with Big hART arts workers about their child’s enthusiasm and pride in the film project. One mother commented that this project was the most engaged her son had been at school in the past two years. Students have described the project as a “different way to learn…no teachers…more open” Wynyard High School students shared their thoughts at a presentation to the Burnie Wynyard Liquor Accord meeting. They explained the project gave them an opportunity to share experiences and ideas and think about the consequences of binge drinking. This was their main message – there are consequences. A Burnie High filmmaker told the Cradle Coast Authority Representative Council meeting that the project was an interesting way to engage in the issue. He explained his group didn’t want to make a government advertisement on the topic but believed it was more powerful to imbed their message in a film that was humorous and entertaining. Another Burnie High filmmaker explained “our film is showing our interpretation of could happen to the world if things get out of hand. Sure it’s a little over the top but it just puts into perspective where we are now with drinking and alcohol”. The Latrobe High School group recognised an opportunity to make a short film that explored the issue and advocated the need for a skate park in their town. The film considers binge drinking as a possible response for some young people not having a space to hang out together and pursue positive activities. The filmmakers interviewed the Mayor who used the positive and creative use of the filmmaker’s activities to lobby the council. As a result, the council has committed to building a skate park in Latrobe. The Mayor of Latrobe and the Mayor of Sheffield congratulated the filmmakers at the Cradle Coast Authority Representative Council meeting in August.
Feedback from student and community audiences has been positive with many thoughtful questions being directed to the filmmakers at discussions after each screening. One group from Burnie High School has commenced filming a monthly segment exploring different issues of concern for students at their high school. This group is also planning to continue to produce short films for other competitions. Burnie Community Police have requested a DVD of the films to use as a resource in their school presentations. Hellyer College has also requested a DVD for use as part of their physical education program. The company 41st Degree Software completes all of the IT work for the McDonalds Burnie International Tennis Competition and organises the video production, interviews, editing, web content and photographs for the event. They are organising youth based roles for young people who don’t play tennis, to get involved in the event. They have offered the Smashed filmmakers the opportunity to work with the company to continue their skill development in filmmaking and storytelling.
Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education Level 1 40 Thesiger Court Deakin ACT 2600 PO Box 19 Deakin West ACT 2600 www.fare.org.au