I’ve spent the week working on a new film with young people in foster care at Anglia Ruskin University. We are making a sequel to My Name is Joe, which we made last year, it’s a four day adventure, springing from research undertaken at the University of Cambridge, but an exercise driven by the voices of the young people. This film is about leaving care, and moving to independent living. Tom Mellor expertly encourages the young people to share their experiences, while James Rogers records the sound, I lead them through the process of animating and shape the film from the work that they produce. It’s an amazing process working with the project team, and the group too, we plan carefully and we are well supported by Trish Sheil from the Cambridgeshire Film Consortium, and Valerie Dunn, the instigator of the project, as well as two wonderful social workers.
This year, I thought it would work well to incorporate live-action, because the project is totally speedy, and it was really hard to generate the story, sounds and animation in just four days last year. The group were also older this time, they were between 16 and 19, and though I always love the way that new-to-animation animators animate, they DO NOT, and drawing and doing animation from scratch can create a bit of stress and flouncing. So I booked the TV studio at ARU, and with fantastic Ryd Cook’ on camera, we filmed some scenes around the independent living theme. There was a lot of printing the exported footage, some overnight at home, and the bulk at the University (praise be), and there followed a day and a half of painting frames, Ed Sheeran on full blast. I’ll re film the frames in September, and James will work on the sound design, the premiere will be October. I hope the film will as successful as the last one has been. My Name is Joe has generated a lot of discussion and been seen widely, the young filmmakers have really enjoyed having the film as a springboard for discussion about their particular situation, and they have been so courageous throughout the process.