Mr Tim Pratt, Head of Drama at Walsall Academy, is on a mission to engage his students with the history of their local area – Bloxwich – by making a film about it. Mr Pratt approached Catcher Media about his idea, having worked with us before on a project about sustainable travel for young people – Think Outside The Metal Box videos.
The project is ReDiscover and is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund. To make the film we have been working with the Sixth Form drama students at Walsall Academy.
Before getting down to four days of filming, we had a huge amount of fun taking many workshops with the students, where they visited the local archives and went on a historic walk with the fabulous local, and incredibly knowledgeable, historian – Stuart Williams – in order to learn about the history of the area.
Stuart said that it’s the people who make Bloxwich unique, so it was important for the students to speak with locals and listen to their stories.
In order to do this they visited the Stan Ball centre in Bloxwich, where they even interviewed Noddy Holder, who used to go to the school on the site where Walsall Academy now stands.
All this research will go into a blog, website and a book as well as the film – pretty exciting(!) – and it means that everyone will have the opportunity to view this material, found through the students’ investigations.
The students really took ownership over the project and engaged with their local history through the filming process.
Mr Pratt said at the start that this was an “unappealing subject for the students but that this film made it interesting”. Video and drama workshops with the students were set up to develop the script…
and the film itself is a mixture of documentary-style, with the students narrating and presenting the material, and student re-enactments which bring the heritage to life. To mark and celebrate the project, the students chose a local sculptor to create panels that will be placed around Bloxwich.
It has been a joy working with the students, Mr Pratt and everyone involved – we have learnt a great deal and hope that this project will also give something back to locals who told us their stories. The primary purpose of the project was to encourage young peoples’ interest in heritage – one of the students involved, Ciara, sums up how successful filming has been:
“Bloxwich isn’t all bad – we should be proud of where we come from.”
Mission is accomplished!