Behind this smile

Opening up about Self Harm

Behind this Smile – Tarbet Academy

This project was a collaboration between Tracy Preece (NHS Choose Life) and Melissa James (Tarbert Academy) to introduce students to the concept of mental wellbeing and find a creative way of communicating their perspective of some of the issues to a wider audience.

Following a series of workshops, starting in September 2015 with an initial group of around 30 students, the decision was made to create a short film using the ideas generated. By this time the group fluctuated between 5 to 7 students with 5 carrying on to make the final cut.

Tigershark was commissioned to help realise the video and get a positive message out to teenagers.

The group quickly decided on their message in a basic form and Tigershark was able to help shape how these might translate to screen prior to the beginning of two days of filming and recording. It was terrific working with a young, passionate and enthusiastic group.

Melissa James was kind enough to provide the following testimonial after the project was complete:

“Stewart had an easy going but focussed manner that put everyone at their ease and encouraged the ideas and suggestions to flow. He was excellent at listening and then selecting the ideas that would work best without excluding or favouring any group member.

“Our filming took place in the last week of the Spring term and all the participants were preparing for their National exams and finishing their National assessments so there needed to be flexibility in terms of availability. Stewart was very understanding of this and worked out a schedule with them for filming and recording.

“Once ideas were finalised the recording of the audio and then the filming were completed over the two days. The extras were roped in and all were directed with humour, empathy and firmness. Throughout the process Stewart shared his ideas and techniques with the students so that they were learning about the process as well as being part of it.

“Once the filming was done Stewart had a rough edit up on the web by the end of the week which we all watched and commented on. Various suggestions were made and they were incorporated into the beta edit. We then had a video conference where more suggestions and comments were made with some lively and productive debate.

“The first edit then appeared which, though getting there, still lacked some of the key messages – again the changes asked for were welcomed and incorporated with alacrity. There was a strong feeling of mutual respect and understanding which was very much appreciated by the students. The final film is a testimony to Stewart’s ability to fashion the ideas of the group into something that they are extremely proud of and which delivers the message that they wanted to communicate in an extremely powerful and professional way. As one of them said, “I never thought it would look that good”.

“I cannot recommend Stewart highly enough, it was a great experience and I am already trying to think of appropriate projects that he might help us with and ways that we could fund him to come into the school again. ”

Melissa James
PT SfL/ Drama Teacher
Tarbert Academy