The topic of filming for and with young people arose after having one of Beagle’s films entered into Campaign’s Brand Film Festival – that film in particular was about young people and specifically for young people.
The main thing to remember is that regardless of your age, being asked to speak to or act in front of a camera can be intimidating and most people will naturally shy away from a situation like that. Here are a few key steps that Beagle can take to get the best on-screen presence out of the young people we work with:
1. Make it fun
The key to working with young individuals is to make sure you’re not taking everything too seriously – for most people, being followed around by a film crew is quite an unusual experience. If it’s not fun for them, they’ll be intimidated and it can be very difficult to capture genuine personality on camera if they’re feeling uncomfortable. Also, the interview is arguably the most nerve-wracking part of any shoot - if you crack a few jokes or chat to the individual while you’re setting up for the key interview, they tend to shake their nerves a bit and the thought of speaking in front of the camera becomes a little less daunting to them. Besides, once the ‘hard’ part is over they’re usually up for having a bit more fun with it which is exactly what we strive for as filmmakers because it means we get to share their story in the most creative and visually engaging way possible.
2. Get them involved in the creative process
Part of our work for The Prince’s Trust involves numerous phone calls with each individual to ensure everything we’re putting in the storyboard is true to their story. It’s also a great opportunity to get them involved in the film project: tell them about the creative ideas, ask for their suggestions and see what they’re comfortable doing in front of a camera - they’ll feel much more at ease if they feel like you value what they have to say. This also means that we aren’t telling them what to do but rather encouraging the individual to share their story in a way that’s comfortable for them. This type of interaction is also a particularly effective way of building a relationship with the young person prior to meeting them and was generally appreciated by each individual we worked with.
3. Keep the film crew young
The series of films Beagle created for The Prince’s Trust were made by young people, with young people, for young people. We make a point of ensuring that the age gap between the crew and contributors isn’t too large – not only does this make the young people feel much more comfortable but it means that there is a much more modern, relevant and creative approach to the content captured. We were met with so many sighs of relief when they realised we weren’t an intimidating, corporate film crew who had turned up to film them for the day.
Those are our top three tips when it comes to working with young people – Remember, don’t take it too seriously! Creativity flows best when everyone has a bit of fun with it.