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Caithness Film School puts the focus on young filmmakers

Caithness Film School - boom

The Caithness Film School is a week of filmmaking activity for local young people aged 12-18 years. Workshops and creative exercises cover every part of the filmmaking process, from writing, directing and acting to shooting, sound recording and editing.

As we reveal support for the project through National Lottery Awards For All Scotland, we spoke to Toby Watts, Producer and Director at Far North Film Ltd, who deliver the project on behalf of The Wayfarer Trust.

It all started with two teenage brothers throwing a camera around and trying things out, learning by making mistakes and being creative.- Toby Watts, Producer and Director

What happens at Caithness Film School?

It's a highly practical and immersive four days offering a unique opportunity for young people to make a number of short films, under expert tuition from experienced filmmakers.

Participants work together in groups to devise and produce their own short films a number of times throughout the week, building up the skills needed to create a more substantial and 'professional' film in the last few days.

At the end of the week on Friday evening, the films are edited and delivered by the young people to a tight deadline, ready for a red-carpet style screening for parents and families of those involved.

Caithness Film School - screening

How has the Film School impacted young people so far?

This is the second year we've run the Caithness Film School. We ran it last October and it was an amazing success with incredible feedback.

We were really encouraged by the profound impact the film school had on young people who would struggle to get a taste of professional, mentored-filmmaking like this in the area at any other time. There's so much creativity in the area but there just needs to be a bit of help sometimes to really tap into it and give people the confidence and opportunity to explore and develop it.

Caithness Film School - actors

We'd love to see more creative talent arising from Caithness. We really hope that it will motivate young people to explore their gifts and test out whether a career in this direction is for them.

It's a fantastic opportunity to help some young people find something they're good at, maybe even for the first time, that they had no idea about.

Caithness Film School - editing

Some of the quotes we've had include:

  • 'I really enjoyed acting without a script' (Kent, 14)
  • 'I enjoyed everything we did, don't change anything' (Fern, 11)
  • 'I really want to tell my friends about the interrogation scene we filmed' (Sam, 12)
  • 'Dan has raved about the film school all week and is becoming more and more keen to make his own films...' (parent)
  • 'Both girls were buzzing with excitement from the first day here... This is a fab opportunity...' (parent)
  • 'Fantastic opportunity for young people in the Far North, where there are limited options' (parent)

How did you get into this line of work yourself?

It all started as two teenage brothers throwing a camera around and trying things out, learning by making mistakes and being creative.

Both Fionn [Toby's brother and co-producer / director at Far North] and I started making films for fun when we were growing up in the Caithness area. That hobby became a passion and eventually a career - we founded our film production company Far North Film whilst living in Caithness in 2011.

We would have loved to have done something like this Film School when we were at school, so for us it's like we've got a chance to bring a unique opportunity for any young people in the far north that are - much like we were 15 years ago - beginning to think about film and media as a passion they want to develop.

We're passionate about doing all we can to enrich the creative opportunities available for the local youth in Caithness. We'd love to see some young people consider pursuing careers in film and media, if that's what they felt they were really passionate about and gifted at.

Caithness Film School - crew

What does National Lottery funding mean to the project?

We applied for funding so that we could keep the cost as low as possible for the participants. Last year we offered several bursary places and so we realise that it is essential to be able to offer this in a way that everyone can have equal opportunity.

There are quite a lot of costs involved with running the week, including venue and equipment hire, so it was essential to acquire funding for us to be able to run the project. 

Caithness Film School - Viking Hall

How can people sign up?

The next Film School takes place 23-26 October 2018. You can visit the Far North Film website to find out more and book your place.

The workshops take place at local arts venue Lyth Arts Centre and the main filming day takes place at the atmospheric setting of another local arts haven, Freswick Castle, and its surrounding grounds. It's a brilliant collaboration between us and two local beacons for the arts in the far north.

Graham Reid, Equalities & Diversity Officer at Creative Scotland, said “National Lottery Awards For All Scotland allows our funding support to reach out across Scotland – from remote and rural locations, to the communities within our cities. The Wayfarer Trust’s Caithness Film School will bring 20 young people together, developing their artistic and personal skills and nurturing creativity."

Caithness Film School received £6000 through National Lottery Awards For All Scotland - a joint awards programme from the Big Lottery Fund, Creative Scotland and sportscotland. It provides a quick and simple way to access small grants of between £300 and £10,000 to help people take part in arts, sport, social, environmental, health related, educational and other community activities.

This article was published on 14 Sep 2018