THe youth of Greenlaw, famed throughout the village for hanging around the town hall steps, have wowed a team of visiting film makers.
Chris and Steph from Three Little Monkey Films, a travelling company that makes short films and trains young people to make films, were in town to record a promotional video for equestrian charity Equibuddy.
They also make a film with the young people of Greenlaw, who often congregate on the town hall steps, about what they would like to see the newly-refurbished building used for.
And Chris and Steph were so impressed with the young people of Greenlaw that they felt compelled to write to The Berwickshire News to tell us why.
They said: “We have travelled all over the UK making films with young people, and it is no exaggeration to say that the youth of Greenlaw have been the most enjoyable to work with.
“We have never been so moved as to write into a local paper before, but we really wanted to promote the talent and enthusiasm of these young film makers.”
Chris and Steph explained that by the time they arrived to make the films, former Greenlaw maid Beth Campbell-Whitton and her team had not only emailed them a full plan detailing exactly what was to be in the town hall film, but had also organised and scheduled interviews with members of the public and local youth groups.
They had also sent out over a hundred surveys asking residents of Greenlaw what they would like to see done with the hall.
“To have this level of organisation and engagement from the young people before we have already arrived is unheard of, especially as they were not lead by a youth leader and sorted everything out themselves,” Steph said.
“From the moment we began working with the young people, every single one of them got stuck into the task in hand - it soon became apparent that there is some fantastic creative talent in Greenlaw.”
The film project was initiated in October when Equibuddy founder and trustee Jenny Leggate was introduced to Chris and Steph at a Sharing Good Practice conference, organised by charitable trust The Rank Foundation, which supports Equibuddy.
Steph explained: “At the Rank Foundation Conference, Jenny saw some films I had made with young people and approached me about working in Greenlaw. We had a brief chat and she said she would be in touch soon. By the time I got home from the conference that evening, I had an email from Jenny waiting for me.
“She had gone back to Greenlaw, spoken to a few people, and was ready to start organising dates.”
The Equibuddy film, which includes interviews with users (and the horses!) is about the importance of the charity to its users. The film, which is ably narrated by horse Monkey, shows that Equibuddy provides invaluable opportunities for children and adults who love horses; that disability is no barrier to taking part; and the benefits the riders and vaulters enjoy.
As well as making a film with Equibuddy, Three Little Monkeys also worked with the wider youth in Greenlaw after Jenny approached a group of young people outside the town hall, to see if they’d like to be involved.
Jenny explained: “I talked to the young people sitting on the steps and asked them what they’d like to see done with the place.”
The resulting short film includes interviews and opinions of Greenlaw residents about what they feel would be the best use for the newly refurbished hall.
Ideas include a community hall, theatre, cinema, parties, dances, sports hall, and a youth centre.
In the film one youth admits: “All we do is sit on the steps outside the town hall or we sit on the bench but it gets cold.”
Another says: “I suppose it doesn’t look very good for people passing by, a bit intimidating, but there’s no where else to go.”
An adult interviewee in the film agrees. She says it’s “tragic” that the youth of Greenlaw are made to sit outside the Town Hall when there are huge buildings there which they should be allowed access to.
The interviews and vox pops are interspersed with footage of the young people congregating on the steps, as well as a look at what the future could hold, including scenes of young people enjoying a film screening in the hall.
While the Equibuddy film will be used to promote the good work of the charity, the town hall film will be used to generate interest in the hall’s renovation, and to support the fundraising effort.
“Because the film comes from the young people, it demonstrates the hall’s importance to the future of the town,” Steph said. “It’s not adults speaking on behalf of young people, it is young people speaking for themselves.”
Chris and Steph said the members of both film groups, the town hall steps and Equibuddy, had shown a variety of skills whilst producing their films. Some naturally took to performing or creating interesting characters, others excelled in more technical roles.
“The great strength of the Greenlaw Town Hall film and the Equibuddy film, is that the young filmmakers were so passionate about the issues involved,” Steph said. “The older Greenlaw youths showed great support and encouragement to the younger group from Equibuddy and could definitely act as mentors if they decided to continue making films.
“We are confident that they have begun a process of making films that is theirs to continue.”
She added: “When we think of this experience we will think not only of the laughter and jokes, but of the wonderful professionalism shown by the groups.”
Steph said that the culmination of the project, the screening of the films, had been a wonderful event. “So many people came to watch the films, it was amazing to see that level of support from a community,” she said. “Chris and I drove back to Manchester feeling very lucky.”