University of Portsmouth students are helping the police improve the lives of minority women in the region by making high quality films designed to help embolden them to stand up to crime. Four short films made by BA (Hons) Television and Film Production students in the CCI Faculty have been praised by the police for their quality, professionalism and clarity of message.
The films deal frankly with forced marriage and honour-based domestic and sexual violence in a bid to encourage women to be open within their own communities about such crimes and, if necessary, with the authorities.
The films were commissioned by Hampshire Police, Portsmouth City Council and a number of support agencies to try and improve the confidence of black and ethnic minority women in the authorities’ ability to understand and deal with crimes affecting their communities. Their original brief was to make a film that will change the lives of others.
The third year students were given a small budget, jointly funded by the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Hampshire Police and the Early Intervention Project in Portsmouth. Their brief was to produce short films, one for each of the four subject areas, to appeal to women, explain the offences, provide information on support services available, and show what happens when someone asks for help.
Detective Sergeant Matthew Gillooly said: “Their original brief was to make a film that will change the lives of others. I truly believe they have achieved this. I am really pleased with the quality, professionalism and messages delivered within the films. The quality of the production is excellent; the messages delivered are strong and emotive. The films really connect with the intended audience.”
The films have been shown once already to 60-70 women at a well-being and safeguarding group meeting in Portsmouth and Det Sgt Gillooly said he was delighted at the response.
“The feedback was very positive,” he said. “Following the screening, a number of women spoke with people from various authorities there about issues they or their friends are currently facing. For me, the film production is already worth it and the aims and objectives met. I know the films will have a similar effect with other audiences.”
The 16 students who made the films were tutored by Steve Whitford on the TV and Film Production BA degree course, in the Creative and Cultural Industries faculty.
He said: “These films portray real victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, honour based violence or forced marriage and making them has been a valuable opportunity for our students to produce important and socially relevant, professional work for a real client.
“We are committed to bringing ‘live’ briefs from external clients into the curriculum and it is enormously gratifying when a client reacts as Matt did to the finished films and to be told they will change the lives of others for the better.”
The research for the films included sometimes harrowing interviews with victims and outreach workers. As well as ensuring the films were compelling and credible for their target audience, the students had to protect many of their sources’ identities, meaning much of the editing had to be done in closed booths and nothing could be saved to the central server. The whole process took three months.
One of the students who took part, Kris Stokmanis-Blaus, said: “The project dealt with a range of difficult social issues and this meant that if we were successful, we could potentially change or even save lives.
“We learned a lot about the process of creating, developing and delivering a serious, hard-hitting project for an outside client, which is invaluable considering it’s very similar to how the content is developed in the real world. We’re incredibly inspired and thankful for having this chance to leave a positive impact.”
Story written by UoP Press Office