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Workshop wonders

The vast majority of 11- and 12-year-olds in Scotland are film- and video-making wannabes, according to a report commissioned by Scottish Film Workshops.

The finding is an extrapolation from a survey of more than 200 first- and second-year secondary pupils in and around Edinburgh, which discovered that 86 per cent of the children were "very interested" in participating in film and video work. Only 66 per cent rated taking part in music activities, the next most favoured option, as highly.

According to the report, compiled by independent consultants Bonnar Keenlyside, the demand for participation in film- and video-making "is by no means saturated". Although schools and colleges might go some way towards meeting demand, it argues, film workshops are uniquely placed because of "the range of technical facilities and expertise" they provide. However, "with only seven workshops and those concentrated within only three regions of Scotland, the gap between supply and demand is extensive".

A flavour of what the seven workshops - in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen - can provide for schools and colleges was given this month during a two-day event to mark cinema's centenary.

A team from Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust introduced children at Niddrie Primary in Craigmillar to the art of animation, a technique that can most easily give young beginners hands-on experience of creating their own films. The children were shown how images of static models can be translated through CD-Rom into colourful and lively cartoon-like adventures.

Other events included screenings by Glasgow Film and Video Workshop (of a half-hour drama made by young members of the Jewish community in Drumchapel) and by Pilton Video Project (of a video record of a campaign to improve play facilities). Young People Speak Out, which runs a video-making project for vulnerable young people, held an open day in its studio.

The seven film workshops have disparate origins but they share the aim of extending youth and community access to video-making and are keen to work together. They have recently revived the Scottish Association of Workshops.

They are unsure, however, as to where they stand in relation to the Scottish Film Council's attempts to get new local authorities to set up film workshops where none now exists. Robin McPherson of the Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust says: "We welcome the idea of extending workshop provision. But there are fears that the Film Council is not addressing the real problems of funding and support of the existing workshop sector."

The workshops' future is uncertain because of worries about funding. But they are keen to respond to the unmet demand among young people highlighted by the Bonnar Keenlyside report.

Pilton Video Project plans to run workshops next year for teachers. "Teachers' fear of equipment is stopping the children from doing video work," say co-ordinator Joel Vennet. And the Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust is using this month's animation as the basis for a series of five workshops in city primary schools in the autumn.

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