Young film-makers have a starring role

A group of talented young film-makers are hoping to cash in on their talent by going commercial.

The youngsters who are members of the Scala Film Team in Prestatyn have already proved themselves adept at all aspects of movie-making and have now launched their own company.

Appropriately, the enterprise was unveiled at a conference at the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in front of an audience of people who have provided support for them.

The WAVE 12 event was organised by Wales Ireland Network for Social Entrepreneurship (WINSENT) and attended by delegates from Ireland, Anglesey and Denbighshire.

Some of the young movie makers are hoping that their experience will lead to careers in the film industry.

For the past two years the youngsters have been attending the weekly sessions at the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre, which is itself a social enterprise that’s been supported by WINSENT.

They have received expert advice and taken advantage of the sophisticated equipment available in the media room.

In January one of the youngest members, 11-year-old Euan Miller, won the title of Most Promising Filmmaker at the PICS 2012 Film Festival in Y Galeri, Caernarfon. He was presented with £150 and a golden clapperboard for his animated movie “The Snowman”.

Thirteen-year-old Oshan Bennett and Steven Moore, both pupils at Prestatyn High School, were awarded second place in the Secondary School category for a short thriller titled “Don’t Look Back”.

Though they receive guidance from experienced adults, including artist and filmmaker Jan Miller, the group are generally left to their own devices, pooling their ideas and having a go at the many different skills required.

“We have a go at different things, but I enjoy the scriptwriting,” said Year 8 pupil Amelia Scott.

Their confidence boosted by their success they decided to set up their own company, to be called, and in future will be charging for commissions.

“We have lots of things in mind, including a film about stereotyping which highlights could change people’s perceptions of hoodies,” said 14-year-old Jack O’Connor, who said his long-term ambition is to become a film director.

Though they are able to use the Scala’s equipment the youngsters are currently raising money to buy further items for the company’s use.

Jan Miller and Rhiannon Hughes, chairman of the trustees of the Scala, said they were extremely proud of the young filmmakers’ achievements and wished them well in their exciting venture.

Cllr Hughes told delegates that links were being established with the TV and media studies department at Glyndwr University as well as the Film Agency of Wales to develop the project further and help the youngsters pursue their interest.

“We look forward to seeing their names on the credits on TV and films,” she said.

The WINSENT project has been seeking out Social Entrepreneurs who are trying to breathe new life into communities across Anglesey and Denbighshire, along with the counties of South Dublin, Kildare and Fingal, Ireland.

They have been identifying  social entrepreneurs who use their business skills to reduce poverty and social inequality and creating a network where they can share experience and help others to adopt a more entrepreneurial ethos.
The project has been part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A).

The increasing role of social enterprises and social entrepreneurship was the theme of the WAVE 12 conference.

John Kearns, Chairman of WINSENT, said that go-ahead people with that “spark” had a vital contribution to make.

“They are the local heroes we need to tackle longstanding issues which bedevil our communities,” he said.

Mr Kearns is Chief Executive of PARTAS, an enterprise and training agency in the Dublin area which fosters the growth of local enterprises.

The keynote speaker of the conference was Cheshire-based John Timpson, the chairman of Timpson, the shoe repair, key-cutting and watch repair business.

He outlined his novel approach to business, explaining that he aligned the business’s drive for profitability and excellence with a social mission.

Shop managers are given the freedom to run their shops in their own way, setting their own prices and ordering the stock they need to ensure the best service to customers.

A renowned philanthropist, Mr Timpson described his philosophy as “upside-down management” in which staff were trusted to do the job in the most efficient, friendly manner and no policies were imposed from the top.

“If they have a good idea they should go for it and use their initiative,” he said.

Holiday homes are available for employees to use free of charge, regular bonuses are paid, each employee has a day off on their birthday and area managers are encouraged to take a personal interest in the shop managers.

As well as supporting chosen charities the company also helps ex-offenders, taking several onto the staff after providing training in prisons throughout Britain.

“We don’t think of ourselves as social entrepreneurs but we do it all because we want to do it,” he stressed.

Photograph: Prestatyn High school students who have made a film using the facilities at the Scala in Prestatyn. Camera operator Oshan Bennett with his schoole friends, teachers and officials at the Scala
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