South Swindon MP Robert Buckland paid a visit to a young film crew based at Commonweal School in Old Town on 20 January to view and chat about their entry into a national festival.
Robert Buckland with director Ben Morris, left, and clapper board operator Kasey John. Below, Kasey, Ben and sound operator Luke Harman. Pictures by Richard Wintle of Calyx
The youngsters aged 12 to 15 from the school’s physical impairment unit worked with Keith Phillips of Ideal Films throughout 2013 to create their own comedy, funded by lottery funded organisation First Light.
They wrote the script and worked up characters, learnt how to use equipment, took on the different roles required to assemble a film and made editorial decisions.
Ben Morris, who has severely limited movement, directed the shoot from his wheelchair using a bluetooth controller linked to a Canon EOS camera and a computer, whilst class mates operated the sound boom and recording machine, and acted the roles.
The 3 minute film called Surprise Party, a comedy inspired by Ricky Gervais classic The Office, didn’t result in the top award at the National Youth Film Festival, and it earned five youngsters a day out in London to the awards ceremony at Leicester Square’s Vue Cinema.
Keith said: "The group were absolutely brilliant and took to film making with a lot of enthusiasm. They had lots of opinions about the storyline and argued how it should be made.
"The five youngsters who travelled to London had a great time. Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond presented the ceremony and were both entertaining and brilliant with all the young filmmakers.
"Once the awards were given out we hung out at the after party but didn’t expect the celebs to be there. Everybody was delighted that Laurence and Ben came along and signed autographs and had their pictures with the group."
"The youngsters were really pleased to talk to Robert Buckland and describe how they made the film, and also showed him how the equipment. It’s impressive how comfortable they are talking about the process of making a film and also how the equipment works."
Robert said the visit to Commonweal was a wonderful way to start the week. "Each member of the team explained their role in bringing their ideas to life in film and sound before we watched the film together.
"The fact that their film was one of just three nominations for a national award demonstrates the high quality of their work.
"Once again, I was reminded of the need to look beyond someone’s disability to understand the true person and their true potential. Keith’s done a great job with them and a big thanks should go the staff at the Commonweal unit who do so much to support the students. It was an inspirational session."
Watch Surprise Party on YouTube
See pictures at the Commonweal film crew blog