I just got back from quite an awesome event at the o2. Charlton Park Academy also house an organisation called Cenmac, which specialises in creating and adapting technology to access education. Today to celebrate their fiftieth birthday, they were doing a screening of three films looking at what they do. A few days ago I got an email from the teacher I work with there, Kathryn, asking if they could also screen my 1000 Londoners film there today.
When I read that email it blew my socks off! As a filmmaker, the opportunity to get your work shown on the big screen in a proper cinema must be seized and relished. I also felt honoured that they chose to show my work beside theirs. I quickly dashed off the necessary emails to make sure it could happen.
Heading up there on the bus earlier today, I was a bundle of nerves. I was very excited, but was getting fretful something might go wrong. And it almost did: when I got up to cineworld at the o2 arena, Kathryn greeted me with the news that she had just been told that something was wrong with the framerate of the copy of my film Chocolate films had couriered across, and they wouldn’t be able to play it. Needless to say, when I heard that I was devastated.
I followed the crowd into the screening room anyway. I recognised most of the people there from the academy, but there were a few new faces – people to network with. Kathryn gave the opening address, and some of the students did a welcome for the audience. The piece I was most interested in, though, was a speech by a guy called Abdul, an AAC user with CP who has a Youtube channel with well over three thousand views, about the history of communications technology. It was witty and informative, and I was struck by the idea of introducing myself to Abdul and perhaps creating something with him.
Then came the films: the main Cenmac piece was shown first: a fascinating piece about their work, no doubt intended inform parents, potential investors and so on. What came across is how crucial the work they do is for students, and how innovative and creative the solutions they find are. The next film was a case study of a student; what struck me most was the artistry behind it.
Then something happened which made my day. All I can say is, thank zark for the internet. The projectionists had borrowed a laptop from an audience member, plugged it into their projector and screened my film straight from youtube. I felt so grateful that they had persevered. It took one or two attempts to get the sound to work, but when it did, and I saw my film up on the big screen, I was over the moon.
Today’s event has solidified my urge to make more films. If I can work with Cenmac, as both a writer and filmmaker, to create more films like those screened today, then perhaps we can show the wider populous the work they do. in a way I think the media aspect of what they do is quite central, as it helps those who are unaccustomed to disability learn what people like me ate capable of with a little technology.