This month's Public Library Improvement Fund blog is written by Yvonne Barclay from Aberdeen City Libraries, Project Manager of Reel Futures.

In 2017 Aberdeen City Libraries started Reel Futures – a film-making project funding by the Public Libraries Improvement Fund (PLIF). The project’s outcomes were clearly aligned with both local and national strategic objectives, including Ambition & Opportunity: A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020 and the then forthcoming Year of Young People.

Learning New Skills

Through PLIF funding, a group of young people aged between 16-25 was set up and film-making equipment acquired including a video camera, green screen and editing software.

The Project Coordinator guided the participants, helping them to research and then recommend the equipment required. This meant that even before the project started the young people involved gained a range of new skills to enhance their employability prospects - including negotiating skills and experience of financial planning within a set budget.

Project Coordinator Sessions

The next stage of the project saw the Project Coordinator lead sessions detailing the importance of planning, storyboarding, team working, negotiating with partners and organising props and venues. The professional input from the Coordinator was crucial in ensuring all views were heard and embedded into the final project ideas.

These discussions led to a set of detailed production notes for the first films. Furthermore, participants were introduced to further learning in the form of copyright and intellectual property sessions alongside advice and guidance surrounding the role of marketing.

Enhancing Employability

Obviously one of the main objectives of the project was to make films. However, these first stages fulfilled the other main objective which was to enhance the employability skills of the project cohort.

Once filming started the significance of the planning stages became obvious. The participants acknowledged the importance of taking the time to write story boards, to plan venues and to undertake the boring but necessary health and safety aspects of filming in public areas. The skills involved also moved to the more practical such as lighting, sound work, direction, production and editing. Other earlier skills, of course, remained important including teamwork and the theoretical background to the production and post production tasks.

The Next Stage

We are now getting ready to launch the first three films made by the group at the end of March. They will all be uploaded to the Aberdeen City Libraries’ YouTube Channel bringing the initial project to a close.

We have however already started work on the next stage of the project, with a new a new cohort of young volunteers co-designing and producing 360° panoramic videos. These will be used by libraries across the city as part of our Additional Support Needs offer around familiarisation visits.

Without the PLIF award this project would not have been possible and, as the sustainability of the project was always key, it has proved invaluable going forward.