POCKET MONEY (2011) film no: 4774
Pocket Money is the first of two short films about fairness in the collection where disabled and non-disabled young people have worked together to make the film, and where they can succeed as equal partners. The second film is called Cash in the Palace. It was created as part of the York Inclusive Young Filmmakers Pilot devised and delivered by Accessible Arts & Media in partnership with the Yorkshire Film Archive. It was made by students with learning difficulties, and disabilities from Applefields School and mainstream students from neighbouring St. Aelred’s RC Primary School, York, as well as their teachers and support staff.
The first scene opens in a living room where two young sisters are doing their chores to earn their pocket money, but it seems the work is not being divided up equally. As one sister continues with the vacuuming, the other is relaxing and conjuring up cheap excuses to avoid doing her share, with their mother taking little interest.
As the hardworking sister is washing the pots her sister pushes her face into the dishwater. The hardworking sister cleans the car and again appeals to her sister for help, but again she makes an excuse. Then she irons the laundry, but still more excuses are devised by the lazy sister and the hardworking sister continues with the tidying. Frustration levels rise, but Mother isn’t listening to the cries of help!
Along comes Grandpa who is fed up with all the arguing. He takes a minute to listen to the sisters… “She never does any house work and still gets her pocket money”! “But I can’t my toe really hurts”! It turns out that Grandpa is going camping, but of course! Girls with bad toes must stay home and rest. And so, the hardworking sister gets to go camping whilst the lazy sister stays home to finish the chores!
Pocket Money was created as part of the pioneering York Inclusive Young Filmmakers – a pilot project that took place from September 2010 to April 2011 as a partnership between Accessible Arts & Media (AAM) and the Yorkshire Film Archive, bringing together students and staff from Applefields SEN School and St Aelred’s RC Primary School in York. The project was made possible through generous funding from Screen Yorkshire, the City of York Council, York Children’s Trust and the Colin & Sylvia Shepherd Charitable Trust. The project had two films: the other one being Cash in the Palace.
These two films were the first to be made as part of the Inclusive Filmmakers project, devised by AAM, whereby disabled and non-disabled students had an opportunity to work together to achieve a shared goal of making a film. The AAM is a York-based charity with almost 30 year experience of pioneering innovative ways of working that are accessible, inclusive and inspiring to all who take part. The project was specifically designed to use and embed film and moving image as a tool to enhance learning and teaching. The structure and approach of the Inclusive Filmmakers pilot differed considerably from a traditional project with the emphasis being as much about the personal and emotional development of the students as it was about filmmaking.
Eight students and four members of staff from each school took part in the project – all of whom were new to filmmaking. The students were introduced to filmmaking by making a very short 30-second film with everyone helping to devise the story and take on the different roles. The intention of this task was to demonstrate to the students what they would need to do in order to create a short film. The films were watched back and students were asked what could be done differently, what was good and bad.
Other sessions focused on filmmaking skills in more detail. Students were given A4 frames that were used to discover the differences between close up, mid and wide angle shots. These skills were then called upon whilst creating storyboards and filming the two films.
Working within a group was a major part of creating the films. Students were asked to think of storylines using the theme of fairness for their inspiration. Many ideas were devised and the group was asked to vote for their two favorite ideas, which were then developed by the group. Everyone could put forward suggestions for locations, props and costumes.
Group work between the two schools worked better than hoped for, with the young people naturally and easily making friends and working together in a supportive way. Whilst creating the storyboard, work was shared out between drawing the shot and describing the shot. Film crew and actors would listen out for the call of the clapperboard and then it was the job of the director to decide whether or not the take was good enough. Students carried out the work, which they felt most confident with resulting in a great collaboration between the two groups.
The process of devising a storyline to film within the theme of fairness proved to have a very positive effect on the students. Ideas such as global warming, poverty, bullying and parenthood challenged the way students saw fairness from different perspectives. The learning process ensured that everyone could participate irrespective of their learning needs or ability. For the disabled students the project provided an opportunity to improve their communication skills by interacting with their mainstream peers. The non-disabled students benefited from experiencing disability in a positive way and both benefited from sharing a common sense of belonging and vision.
The project was led by one of AAM’s professional filmmakers, Simon Collins and supported by AAM Project & Technical Assistant, Aled Jones. Simon has extensive experience of working with groups of young people to make films and animations, He has run several after-school filmmaking groups in schools and also created films with young people with specific medical and mental health conditions. For instance, he has worked with young people with Asperger’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Childhood Arthritis as well as Deaf young people to make films explaining their conditions and aiming to improve understanding of them.
Before the project took place both schools had experienced difficulties in developing anything more than a basic level moving image work in school. To ensure that each school had the necessary skills to embed filmmaking within the curriculum on completion of the project training was provided for teachers and support staff in filming, editing and making use of YFA Learning online site, as well as appropriately equipping each school with the necessary equipment to ensure this could happen.
The primary consideration when choosing the equipment was ‘simple but effective’ that wouldn’t overwhelm the user and easily available at a consumer level e.g. video cameras didn’t have a vast array of settings. Furthermore a resource pack was provided for each school as well as aftercare support after the weekly sessions finished. The project can be seen in the context of others that use drama and film making as a way of developing children with special needs – see the Context for Cash in the Palace.
(With special thanks to Rose Kent – Director, Accessible Arts & Media – for supplying most of the text and information)