story ● 29 Nov 2023

Session One: Emotional Support, People, Place - Making a participatory film with Young People in York

LAT 53.96 LNG -1.07

On the 26th of July, Simona joined the group for the first time through Zoom calls. In this blog, you can find a recap of what happened in the sessions. We had a session in the afternoon and one in the evening, both dedicated to the same activities.


Making a film together

The session started with Simona introducing the idea of making a film together. Participatory filmmaking is an approach where a group of people make a film about something that’s important to them through the support of a filmmaker. At the workshops young people will decide the style and content of the film to convey their own thoughts and feelings.

Image: Simona Manni
Image: Simona Manni

Members of the group who wished to do so introduced themselves by talking about their favourite creative activity in the project so far. Making zines was the most popular favourite activity, thanks to the way it stimulated creativity through the combination of different visual materials.

Images that speak to us

Making films can be as simple as placing images in a sequence. In order to start exploring what types of images can be meaningful to the group, we took part in two activities where we browsed galleries of images and selected an image that intuitively stood up for us.

The first gallery of images contains pictures that loosely related to the topic of emotional support:

Group members picked an image that caught their attention, and afterwards we discussed as a group why certain images seemed to jump out for us.

These included candles, which evoked care for others and spirituality; an image of a hug, which expresses warmth and support; an image of artmaking, a practice that is particularly important to one group member as a key part of who she is; images of nature and cosy spaces were also selected by the group.

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It was very interesting to explore how different images caught people’s attention for different reasons, and we also briefly discussed which images we tended not to like. These were mostly images that evoked mess or daks/scary places.

We repeated this exercise with images of York, as the city has been a focus of the project so far, with group members discussing in past sessions which places in York felt safe and supportive and which felt off-putting and unsafe.

Here you can find the gallery of images about York:

Again, group members chose a picture that particularly caught their attention. These are some of the images selected by the group:

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Most places picked by group members hold a special meaning or memory for them. Some places were picked because of their beauty as York landmarks or natural places. Others are familiar avenues where some group members spend time and that they know intimately. It was also very interesting to hear how some group members negotiate their relationship with tourism in York and have found shortcuts or quiet spaces even in the midst of crowds.

In the evening group, we had a bit of extra time to think about how images from the two galleries could build a meaningful sequence when paired together.

A group member chose pictures which had in common the presence of the sunset and water, and which could work very well together as a sequence:

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Another group member created a mini sequence using images of artmaking and places in York that can be relevant to this activity:

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These mini sequences could already be enough to create a short film!

Exploring filming styles

During the last part of the sessions, we had a look at different films made by members of different communities in York.

We started with In My Mind’s Eye, a short series about York created at Converge, York St John University. We watched two chapters from the film, one created by Adam, who reflected on his memories of York as a young person, and one by Pat, who described how lack of care towards communal space can damage neighbourhoods.

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We discussed the different styles of these two short films with some group members expressing preferences for the more lyrical intimate style of the first, and others saying they could relate better to tone and content of the second.


We also watched a film produced for Kyra a few years ago, which combined interviews of women using Kyra’s services with a piece of video poetry based on a poem written by an anonymous author from Kyra. We compared the two styles, and in the evening group, we explored a piece of video poetry on mental health. While the video poetry style is very creative, some group members found it a bit too abstract and flagged the risk that meaning can be lost by the audience if not done very carefully.

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You can watch all these short films here:

In My Mind’s Eye – Adam

In My Mind’s Eye – Pat

What is Krya

Stepping Through

Follow the project @youthgeography