Project SAFE: Learning Healthy Self-expression Through Movie Making
The children and young people of our SOS Children’s Village in Calbayog participated in Project SAFE, a program that teaches filmmaking to abused and neglected children to encourage healthy self-expression. And on August 18, Village Directress Emily Torculas shared her pride in the nominations and awards the children’s works received.
Project SAFE came as an opportunity to empower young people through storytelling, authoring, filmmaking, and editing. It was mainly aimed to allow youngsters to create participatory videos to document child protection mechanisms during COVID-19. With their shared interest in writing, photography, and videography, 19 participants and 10 mentors from our Calbayog village signed up for this promising endeavor!
Participants and mentors have undergone separate two-day virtual training sessions last December 2020. Sessions were facilitated by RedAnts Media Inc., one of UNICEF’s project partners. Five of the 19 young participants came from the village, 4 from the young boys’ home, and 10 from our two adopted communities. On the other hand, the pool of mentors was comprised of the village’s social workers, educators, EET co-workers, and the IDS co-worker. Both the SAFE participants and mentors have learned about story-writing, making storyboards, basic photography and videography, and video editing.
Youths formulating their own story ideas during one workshop session
Youth participant Danny shared his appreciation for the learning process he and his peers underwent while collaborating on their short film. "Programs like SAFE are a great avenue for artistic expression. It helped children and youths like us unleash our creativity while learning how to work in teams. SAFE taught us filmmaking skills that can serve as an outlet for our thoughts and ideas, especially in this home quarantine era”, says Danny.
Everyone has a story to tell – each has their own perspective of what’s happening today. Participants were grouped into four to produce films about their lives during this pandemic. Youngsters featured how they cope with the new school set-up, how they long for their old lives, and how hopeful they are for better days to come. After almost five months of filming, editing, revising, and mentoring, the films Ang Childhood Memory ni Leo, Pasko Na Liwat, Productivity in the Time of Pandemic, and Pag-Asa became SOS Children’s Village Calbayog’s entries to Cinemahusay: The 2021 SAFE for Children Film Festival.
It was attended by over 23 teams from the different regions of the Philippines. Out of all the contenders, our Calbayog village won the 3rd Best Picture award for “Ang Childhood Memory ni Leo.” The team also had six nominations for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Scoring awards.
3, 2, 1, Action! Video shoots were conducted inside village premises to keep children and youths safe.
More than the awards, it was the valuable lessons and cherished memories the participants and mentors gained that made their program participation an unforgettable experience. To Auntie Cheska, one of the team mentors, the films produced through the program were an eye-opener to her and her colleagues. The films showed them how children and young people see the world.
"Everyone living in this age will probably have a fair share of their own COVID story – may it be about contracting it, losing a loved one, or facing difficulties amidst the pandemic. And more often than not, what we may hear are every grown-up’s perspective. We don’t realize that children have their own point of view, too! We just need to hear them out and have an open heart to empathize with them", shared Auntie Cheska.
Through the program, children and youths were able to express their fears and worries, but more importantly, their message of hope. And as we saw the stories unfold through their lenses, we were taught how we can better support and protect them, especially in times like this.