“If we are willing to walk in the shoes of others, we can live their knowledge and feel their experiences.”
Over 200 young people (aged 8-25), from across the Causeway area, have been involved in the production of a cross-community, contemporary youth film project, re-telling and engraving local stories into 6 short films, with the ‘premiere’ being hosted at the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine, on Tuesday 22 August.
Event host, Sarah Travers, former BBC News Journalist & TV Presenter, welcomed participants and family members to the special screening and spoke to some of the young cast members about their experience during a fireside chat before the films played to the audience. Young Heidi Walsh-Anderson, also performed a heartwarming solo version from the film’s soundtrack.
Delivered by Outside the Box NI, the Walk in My Shoes youth film project is part of the community outreach engagement work of the Bushmills Courthouse Shared Space Creative Hub project.
The theme of walking in others’ shoes underpins the 6 films, which aim to celebrate and promote the rich and diverse heritage of Bushmills and the Causeway Coast.
Each film tells a unique story, drawing inspiration from local landscapes, people, traditions, stories and cultures and allowed participants to step into the shoes of their ancestors and embrace the shared heritage of their community.
“Everything in these films has been developed by the young people involved; from props and costumes to dance routines, music, film production and acting,” said Jayne Taggart, CEO of Enterprise Causeway. “This project is an impressive testament to the creativity, talent and dedication of our young people and listening to their experiences, conveys a real journey of self-discovery and cultural exploration, which is what we had hoped for when designing the project.”
Also reflecting on their experience was Kathy Anderson, co-owner of Outside the Box NI, who stated: “We planned everything to ensure participants got to walk in their ancestors’ shoes, to truly appreciate and enjoy our shared heritage.
“We purposely crafted workshops to motivate and challenge the young participants, whilst building skills and a sense of pride within themselves. It was pure joy to watch them really connect with the material and to get involved in the filmmaking process, as well as bond with professional tutors and their peers. We couldn’t be prouder of them and the finished films and our hope is not only for these films to be a lasting legacy to their talent, but that it encourages them to explore and further their professional careers.”
Speaking about his direct experience, participant Evan Millar reflected: “I loved the special effects make-up masterclass with well-known industry professional Anita Brolly, especially getting to do the dancers make-up for the filming of the Dunluce Banshee. I also got to improve my improvising skills as part of the acting workshop.
“These experiences, the people I met and worked with, gave me the confidence and drive I needed to realise my dream of pursuing a career in film and special effects make-up.
“Shortly after finishing the project, Anita offered me some part-time work, which was such an unbelievable opportunity! I also got offered a job in a local hair salon, that I wouldn’t have dreamed of getting had I not had this fantastic experience in doing hair and make-up for film.
“I’m so thankful and determined, more than ever, to succeed, even enrolling onto a hair and beauty course at college to further enhance my skills. It’s really ignited my passion and truly given me more opportunities than I could ever have imagined!”
The €7.8m Courthouse Shared Space Creative Hub is anticipated to open in the spring of 2024 and has been funded through the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding has been provided by the Department for Communities, Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development, Ireland.
The community engagement programme (which this project is part of) is running in parallel with the renovation and construction works, creating opportunities for shared learning experiences to explore and understand cultures, traditions and backgrounds.
For updates on The Courthouse Shared Space Creative Hub project visit: https://www.enterprisecauseway.co.uk/the-courthouse/ or follow on Facebook @thecourthousepeaceiv
View the short films produced:
- Bushmills Courthouse: https://vimeo.com/857076521
- The Story of the Dunluce Banshee: https://vimeo.com/857077257
- John McAlaster and the Fuldew Stone: https://vimeo.com/857077458
- The Auld Lammas Fair: https://vimeo.com/857078421
- The Armoy Hiring Fair: https://vimeo.com/857078746
- A New Chapter: https://vimeo.com/857079085