At the Digital Art Lab, we hosted a number video workshops for kids in the ICOZ Time Out. The kids in the ICOZ program are teenagers from troubled homes, with learning disabilities or social and behavioral and development problems who have been placed outside the regular school system for 3 months to get back on track. During these workshops all participants make a one minute video that they show to each other afterwards. The aim is to stimulate creative productivity and collaborative work, but more importantly to empower them through a process of creation: to have kids take pride in what they have created and value the skills they already possess as well as the ones they’ve acquired during the workshop.
After day 1 and 2 of the workshop (3 hours per day) we noticed that they needed more one on one support than we anticipated. The biggest challenge was to keep the teens focused on making their video. Working in groups was difficult because they would distract each other more than they’d help each other realise their videos. Hence we had to ask for extra pairs of hands, and most of the PZ team ended up working with one or two kids, helping them shoot and edit their video. At this point, where we still have the 3rd and last session ahead of us, many of the kids are close to finalising already and their videos look incredibly promising.
The technique of the one on one mentor sessions that is characteristic of the one minutes method has proven very helpful in getting to know the kids and helping them trust you enough to discuss their story with you. We decided on a theme called ‘parts of me’. We asked participants to show us in a one minute video a part of who they are. This can be a characteristic hairstyle, a golden tooth, an ambition, a statement that everyone has the right to express themselves creatively (whether good at something or not), etcetera. Most participants could come up with something, but some really had trouble finding something that was ‘worth’ making a video about in their eyes. Some lost faith in their project and dropped even before filming, or during editing. Resolving these issues took quite some time in some cases. Especially because we didn’t want them to end up with nothing after three days. We tried to be as flexible as possible, and improvised to get these participants excited for a new ‘quick fix’ video idea.
One boy for example did not care, about anything. He was just bored and would only look down and doodle on his sheet of paper (which was supposed to have a storyboard on it). So we made a video of a creative block, when you have to be creative but are just bored with everything. He ended up getting excited about our drawing pads and put most efforts into drawing titles for his video. Not what we’d expected, but 1) he has a beautifully personal video, and 2) he’s found a role in the process of video making he can get excited about, namely creating titles, and editing.
Another boy couldn’t get enough people to help him make his video, because he was busy helping others. As time passed by he lost faith in it getting done at all. He was fed up and felt very uncomfortable sitting down to come up with a new idea in a short time. So we decided together he didn’t have to go through the creative process again, instead he could make a little documentary of the workshop by interviewing the participants about their experience of the last few days. So he made his own contribution to the workshop, worked together with other people, and has something to show for it.
This particular group asked for intensive facilitating, and many pairs of hands to keep kids focused enough to produce a video in three days. But I don’t think extending the duration of the workshop would solve this problem. Attention spans are barely two or three hours, and with the fluctuating interest, you’d risk losing them altogether if they had to stay excited for one project for more than 3 days in a row. We should also involve the groups guidance people more, to step in when people get distracted. I’m curious to see if this program, 3 mornings of 3 hours each would work for kids e.g. in a school class setting, or in a different age group, preferably with no more than 2 facilitators.