Homefront Stories

Norfolk Library and Information Service is taking part in a  project led by the Society of Chief Librarians which has been awarded £196,110 from the National Lottery supported Grants for the Arts: libraries fund through Arts Council England.

The project we are working on is one of ten pilots taking place throughout the country. The Norfolk Libraries project will focus on working with young people to tell two digital homefront stories – one from Norwich and one from Great Yarmouth.

Work on the Norwich project is underway, with ten young people starting their research and beginning to learn about the film-making process.

Below is a blog from Adam, a Young Ambassador at Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library who has been supporting the sessions, and some photos showing the team in action!


As a lot of you probably know, this year is the one hundred year anniversary of World War One and here at the library we’ve decided to to take up the task of making a film describing the impacts of the war on ordinary people. Working with a professional filmmaker, a group of ten young people will embark upon a journey from lights to camera to action!
The whole group listening intently!

The whole group listening intently!

The first day saw everyone acquainted with each other through the revealing truths of our dream super powers (flight is a lot more complicated than you would think). One of the first things everyone saw were the laptops on the table, beside which sat pictures of real soldiers, as well as examples of the kind of information stored at the library about them. The group was then whisked away to the mysterious ‘secure area’. Although it sounds like something straight out of a generic sci-fi film, it contained a plethora of items, from England’s first regular newspaper to maps of all over Norfolk, Trade directories a hundred years old… I could go on. After seeing the artifacts first hand, it was time to get to grips with some! Staff from the library’s heritage centre had kindly dug out items from around the time of World War One. I personally saw a broadsheet newspaper on microfilm which displayed a rather different foreign attitude to that of now… Filled with wonder from having read books that were older than even their parents, the group now got into the meat of the day, learning how to utilise Ancestry and other sources to find out about a pre determined soldier. We found many interesting facts out about the soldiers, including a soldier who lost his voice and so was shipped off to Australia! Don’t worry, he made his way back eventually. We were even able to find maps to physically see where these men lived and how the area they lived in was organised. This couldn’t last forever alas and soon the climax of the day had arrived. The group had to finish with making Prezis on the soldiers they had researched. Now, I am not very good with Prezi to say the least, but the others seemed to know their stuff and we finished the day with some rather professional looking Prezis on some extraordinary people.
On the Tuesday, the project recommenced with a more thorough introduction of our film maker. We were shown some past projects, all historic and all very interesting. The tone was set for the day, the session was to cover how to make a film, something we all probably needed an introduction to… We started with a simple card sort, well, we thought it would be simple. It soon turned into a race between groups to match the job to the description (my group was first, naturally). We then were able to get a closer look at the camera, something with a lot more buttons than I thought. However, for the group, who are working towards an arts award, this would prove invaluable to achieve their goals and attain the award. To get used to the camera, each member of the group was filmed telling a truth and then a lie. As well as the comedic gold the footage provided, it was also a chance for two at a time to learn how to work the sound and recording. We then went through the lies and truths, with no clear winner. Continuing on with the arts award and filming,  the group then went through various shot types which can be used for various effects within filming. This would prove to be invaluable as learning different shot types a popular skill for development. A 10 minute one minute challenge was then put to the group. In a group of four, the young people had to come up with a short scene that could use different camera angles and include at least one line. The two people dramas turned into very complicated pieces by the end. The dramas involved an April fools proposal and a mugging of a super hero who loved her life. The dramas looked very professional from behind the scenes with a camera on a tripod, a huge boom microphone and the repetition of the scene as the director looked for various camera angles. The day then ended with some wink killings and even a lizard on the loose!
Practicing in front of the camera

Practicing in front of the camera

That brings us to the most recent session. This one worked the group the hardest so far, as they began to start the meat of the arts award. The first part of the session saw the group establish their art (unfortunately for some it was not expressive dance…) They were then presented with pictures of the day before, which had to be annotated with snippets of information involving what they were doing (in some cases no one knew exactly) and how it worked towards one of their three targets. Then a bombshell was dropped on the group.. homework. Yes, the young people had to research someone in film who inspired them and write up some notes on them. Not as bad as school I suppose… The mood was still light, right through the work to the review of the previous day’s footage. Everyone enjoyed both watching and learning from it, seeing the different shots in action and their own skills used.
Learning to use the equipment

Learning to use the equipment

Character work was the theme today as the group needed to flesh out the characters to be used in the short film. We watched an example of characters from the time, particularly a young schoolboy, from ‘The Village’. Bursting with ideas, the group began to discuss the different characters, deciding who they should be and the circumstances surrounding their lives. The matter was settled on a father, a mother, a young boy and an older sister who were all members of the same family, but still had different views of the war. The laptops made their return as the group broke into pairs to research and develop a specific character further. We also were given the chance to watch some extraordinary archive footage, rarely seen footage of Norwich when even colour hadn’t been invented. The characters now had their own unique look and backstory, more on that to follow. Finally, to get even deeper into character, each member of the group spent five minutes letting their imagination follow their character to the tune of serene music. This proved very useful as the members of the group really felt like they knew their character. We then finished with more secret murders and even my first game of splat (which incidentally I did win).
Although we’ve already fit a lot into the this project, we still have some time to go. Come back soon for more information on the actual film and more historical research!
Learning about film-making techniques

Learning about film-making techniques


2 thoughts on “Homefront Stories

  1. Pingback: Catching up on projects we’ve blogged about! | Norfolk in World War One

  2. Pingback: Letters from a Family and Yarmouth Strikes Back | Norfolk in World War One

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