The last time I was surrounded by so many teenagers, I was 18 and at my secondary school – The Manor High School, Wednesbury. I didn’t expect to see all the kids in uniform, but it was comforting to see that and so many familiar faces in the classes: the jokers, the shy girl, the teachers pet. You know the ones.
I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to say about a career in film and TV, especially to kids who have been bought up on the myth of ‘celebrity’ and ‘X Factor’. So I was really impressed with the calibre of questions and the real interest about what it was I actually did. I was also surprised by how well trained I still was – when the bell rang I instinctively reached for my bag, though what class I was going to I don’t know.
I didn’t have much time with each group of kids but I took them through a whistle-stop tour of a normal working day and we talked about how to create a script and why you produce a half decent storyboard. In one session we actually had time to try out some storyboards and the ‘bad boys’ at the back of the class came up with a really fun idea of selling mobile phones, providing you had a budget that to pay for Jason Statham! (“Cus he kicks ass sir”).
It’s incredible to think that these kids are the first generation to grow up in a world where there is no restriction on their creativity. I’m glad to say they have embraced that opportunity. In the short visits I met teenage rappers, dancers and a couple of filmmakers, whose version of the Harlem Shake can be seen on YouTube. Despite getting in trouble for the lunchtime prank, both the kids and one ‘off the record’ teacher are very proud of their first steps into filmmaking. I hope they enjoy the journey as much as I do.