On Monday night, local teachers, parents and students gathered at Upstairs at the Ritzy to watch a showcase of 20 short films created by students from schools in Lambeth. The films were created with the help and guidance of GLUE, a South London based charity established in 2011 that works with young people who are struggling to stay in education.
GLUE runs 10-week film-making courses, giving otherwise disengaged young people a creative project to call their own. The course develops not only unique films but also nurtures the students’ key organisational, creative and interpersonal skills. The charity works solely with students who are at risk of exclusion and gives them an opportunity to try a different and more creative route to finding their strengths, and developing skills which will open up employment opportunities.
Each strikingly different, the films were impressively imaginative. Ranging from a funny but poignant piece about a student with the power to click her fingers and make anything happen, to a comedy about a boy who grows himself a new pair of teeth that have a mind of their own to an urban music video.
Jack Widdows, a former school teacher and co-founder of the initiative, drives the project forward, enlisting local schools, supporting and encouraging the students and spending huge amounts of time behind – and sometimes even in front of – a camera. “It’s been a really collaborative affair,” says Jack. “The students have worked really well, not just with us but with each other.”
Jack is keen to point out that one of the most important skills the film-making project teaches the participants is persistence. “We’ve had no drop-outs,” he says, “The students all get a sensation of completion, which is really important. They may require occasional chivvying and the odd McDonald’s breakfast, but they all saw their projects through to the end.”
Paul James-Lecky and Sharlene De’Allie, teachers at Chestnut Grove School in Balham, were very positive about their students’ progress. “It’s great for them to be doing something in a different environment where they’re not just being given orders,” said Paul. According to Sharlene, they’ve seen a marked change in behaviour and have noticed that the students who went on GLUE’s course are now much more focused at school.
The students have all been awarded an Arts Award for their work – the equivalent of half a GCSE – adding further to their CVs. As well as this, at least 3 of the students now want to pursue careers in the film industry, such as Regan, whose experience as the lead in her short film ‘Popcorn’ has left her inspired to pursue acting.
Last year, GLUE was funded by SLaM – the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – and are waiting to hear whether they will receive funding again this year. According to Jack , the schools are being very supportive: “I’ve spoken to the schools about them possibly being charged and they’re still really keen to be involved. We’re also looking to expand into other areas of London next year.”