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The Lost Year and Don’t burn our future | Two short films by young artist James

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James took part in our City as Studio online film-making residency in February 2021, during a period of lockdown in the UK. Meeting only online, the young artists worked with lead artist Kate Mahony and artist James Scott to learn film-making techniques and discuss the issues that matter most to them.

James shares his experience of the residency and the process of creating his second film, The Lost Year, from storyboard to final edit.

Hi! I’m James – a 16 year old with a passion for creating films and photos. In February I joined resident artists Kate Mahony and James Scott and members of the Modern Art Oxford Team on a 5-day course exploring filmmaking under the theme of ‘Citizens Of The Universe’ inspired by the work of Ruth Asawa.

During the week, we met each morning and afternoon to engage in a wide range of activities and discussions. On Monday (my favourite day) we explored the technicalities and array of shots used in films, created a DIY handgrip to stabilize our cameras and then used the things we had learnt to create a short film experiment.

We were encouraged to look at themes prevalent in society today and for my short film I was inspired by the confusion and isolation many have been feeling during lockdowns. I chose to title it ‘The Lost Year’ inspired by a headline from a newspaper article and I produced a poem for an accompanying voiceover.

Creating this short film stretched my skills as I completed it from storyboard to final edit in one day – so I had to work fast and trust in my decision making. After creating the film, I had the opportunity to show my work to the other young people in the course and the leaders which was highly constructive. It was so insightful to hear feedback from creative people I had great respect for and when hearing people’s opinions and ideas my brain started whirring with how I could implement ideas into new projects.

On other days, we looked deeper into animation, sound compositions and we even had the opportunity to interview the team at MAO regarding careers. The week culminated with creating a live piece of performance art over zoom which was great fun and such a different experience to anything I had ever done before.

Overall, this was an incredible week where I met lots of likeminded individuals and learnt so many filmmaking techniques whilst growing in confidence and creativity.

Watch James’s stop-motion animation about the climate crisis:

Find out more about City as Studio, here.