What is ‘Care’?

Care.  It’s about wanting the best outcome for someone.  Working with them to make that happen.  Simple, right?

In practice, providing ‘care’ can be complex and far from straightforward, particularly within the NHS and the vast range of services it provides.  Recognising these conundrums, and against the backdrop of ‘The Francis Report’ into care standards which stemmed from malpractice within hospitals in Staffordshire, I was commissioned to make a series of short case studies looking at what patients, their families and health practitioners understand by the term ‘care’.  These films now form part of the training that all medical students at Birmingham City University undertake prior to their first placements.

It was an eye opening and frequently emotional experience, exploring the tough calls, tight relationships and massive dedication required on a daily basis to ensure that patients receive the care and treatment they need.  It was a real privilege to be invited into people’s homes and lives and have them speak so candidly about their experiences.

Here is one of the seven case studies – Madeleine and Liz.  Liz articulates so well how sometimes you have to be, if not cruel to be kind, certainly assertive.  More films in the series can be viewed through the Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Student Hub portal.

Patient Stories – Madeleine and Liz from BCHC COMMS on Vimeo.

Importing AVCHD MTS footage to Final Cut Pro

I’m NO expert when it comes to the technical side of film-making, but I do, when required spend a fair bit of time on Google, sifting through discussion forums to find a solution to whatever problem I’m faced with. Recently I bought a Canon XA-10 camera to replace my trusty and well-loved Canon XL2 (which I’m on the cusp of selling but I’m still thinking that it’s a fantastic camera and could be brilliant in some circumstances, despite being SD.  If you’re interested in buying then get in touch).

When I got it home and started playing I realised that the MTS format I wanted to film in wasn’t immediately compatible with Final Cut Pro 7.  Rather frustrated that I couldn’t scoot through the footage on Preview (much like a .mov file when imported), I started looking through forums.  No, I didn’t cave in and open a bottle of wine.  Yes, it was tempting.

So (and this is just my limited experience so far), you DON’T need to pay to download expensive software.  Just change the import settings to one of the Apple ProRes 422 settings (use Proxy or LT for small file sizes, the normal Apple ProRes 422 setting for quite large, or HQ for the best quality) and import the MTS files through the Log and Transfer window.  It allows you to view clips in real time and decide what to import.  I’ve been able to edit with no problems, my first edit has been sent in this morning and I’m really happy with it.  There’s more information on the workflow in the FCP 7 handbook.

Editing

The reason I put this up is because it looks as though two companies, PavTube and BroSoft have hijacked all of the discussion threads to sell their software.  I may be missing a trick here.  Maybe I imagined that I converted my footage without any other software or plugins.  Maybe the software creates a better workflow.  Maybe the conversion results in better looking or sounding footage.  Maybe these companies are ripping people off.

Anyhow, I hope that this is of some use.  As I say, I’m no tech-head so I’m not wanting to get into a prolonged debate.  This works for me at the moment, it may work for others.  This post may save you some money.  Read around, decide what works for you…

I’m back!

IMAG0056

It’s almost a year since I last updated the blog (If you read my last post then you will have some idea why.  Little Bean is now a big, crawling all over the place Big Bean who goes by the name of Adam – or Adamdamdamdam if you ask him).

I’m now working part time and I’m fortunate enough to be working on a really interesting and diverse range of projects.  Some of them are a continuation of work I was doing before Maternity Leave, most of them are completely new projects I’m working on.

I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the people that I’ve worked with that have been willing to be flexible as I juggle being a new Mum with my freelance work.  What I feared would be a really stressful period has been really enjoyable!

The future of Creative Partnerships

You’ve probably picked up on these pages that I’m incredibly enthusiastic about fresh, exciting and creative ways of learning. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with a broad range of youth groups and young people for all kinds of projects.

I have a particular soft spot for the Creative Partnerships scheme which involves so-called ‘Creative Practitioners’ (that’s shorthand for talented, creative people from a range of disciplines with a passion for learning!), going into schools and inspiring young people and staff through all manner of different workshops.  I do film workshops which can focus on literacy, IT, research and communication skills to name the most obvious ones, there are plenty more!  The bottom line is that attainment and engagement amongst pupils increases massively in places where these projects run.

So, whilst it’s been on the cards for a while, it’s devastating to hear that the planned cuts to arts funding may hit Creative Partnerships hard.  Have a read of this article in today’s Guardian for more on the background to it.  On the plus side, this report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows that there is a clear economic benefit to these projects.  Whilst measuring Creative Partnerships projects by their economic value kind of misses the point, it does hopefully provide a stronger case for the continuation of the scheme.

Just in case you’re in any doubt about the scheme, here is a video I worked on with young people from Baxter College in Kidderminster.  I can’t claim to have been the lead in the project – credit there goes to Hayley Pepler and Alison Grade – it was an inspiring project to be a part of and really highlights the benefits of CP projects.  Young people scripted the trailer for a series of programmes they have yet to produce, then quickly picked up the rudiments of filming, sound recording and directing, before going on to liaise with staff and pupils throughout the school to film everything in a day.  I’ve met professional film makers that would be unable to pull that off!  The buzz that you see in the video isn’t just all show, it’s a genuine excitement that passed around the school as the day wore on.  Magic.

Baxter TV Trailer from Rachel Gillies on Vimeo.

Birmingham’s Culture blogged

As I type the seconds are ticking down until midday on Saturday 24th April, the deadline for submitting your cultural shenanigans in Brum onto the Birmingham Big City Culture Blog.

The blog is part of Birmingham’s bid to become the ‘City of Culture’ in 2013. It’s hoped that through allowing people to add their ‘cultural activities’ over a 24 hour period that the website can get a snapshot of the broad range of exciting activities taking place across the city. Reading through the blog so far I’m really enthused by the variety of events, both in the city centre and in local neighbourhoods. It’s really lovely to see children’s events in community libraries next to contemporary art exhibitions at the IKON, next to research projects by students, next to lunchtime chamber music at the CBSO centre.

What really strikes me is that we seem to see culture as encompassing all kinds of different activities, many of which would never normally register on the radar of those who spend time hand-wringing over Birmingham’s lack of culture. The blog is incredibly refreshing, and really highlights the passion and pride we have about what happens in our city.

So, in the spirit of the blog, and not wanting to fall into the stereotype of the unassuming Brummie, here’s my contribution on what I got up to yesterday!

For more information on the bid you can go to the bid’s website or follow them on Twitter.

A good direction

In my last post I mentioned that I was going to be attending two events on 11th November.  Both were incredibly stimulating, and got me really enthused about developing my own creative practice to bring exciting new educational opportunities to young people, and crucially, to help them to be confident to voice their own thoughts and ideas.

I’m very pleased to share the news that I was accepted onto the Radiate Training Scheme which gives ‘creative practitioners’ (that’s me apparently!) the skills and support to develop their own creative practice in schools.  The scheme runs from December to next July, and in that time I’ll be attending a number of training days and will devising and implementing a project in a school, mentored by Radiate and school staff.

All in all last week gave me a renewed sense of why I think that film can be such a useful tool.  A good direction methinks.  As the quote on the Radiate frontpage says ”It’s a fantastic opportunity to see the working environment in which I want to be a part of…’

Back to School

It’s taken me months to get round to writing up a page about my work at Robin Hood JI School over the Summer Term.  Luckily some of the reason for this has been that I have busy with running around on several other project, including an extensive project with The Wildlife Trust (more on that later!) and another film project for Solihull Libraries!  However, the main reason is that it involved so many different and exciting strands that I wasn’t too sure where to begin!

You can now find a summary of the project on the Schools Page although it still feels as though I’ve not done it justice.  As a freelance film-maker it was such a fantastic experience to challenged to produce something fun and exciting which would leave staff and pupils with a lasting legacy.  Pupils not only had DVDs to take home, I genuinely believe that they grew in confidence and would now be able to produce their own films.  In fact, a browse round the school’s excellent website this morning revealed that Year 4 have been making their own Origami Videos! Great stuff!

I’m hoping to build on this schools work through taking part in further training.  I’m thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Radiate Training Scheme (fingers crossed for that!) and next week I’ll also be attending the ‘Youth Voice’ seminar at Queensbridge School which looks excellent!

Daimohk!

Daimohk Poster 2009

Since 2005 I have been a Trustee of Peacebuilding UK (full name Centre for Peacebuilding and Community Development) which supports and builds local capacities for peace in the North Caucasus.  I have recently been appointed as the Chair.  So, it’s a huge honour to spread the news about one of PBUK’s most exciting and ambitious projects.

Daimohk is a Chechen Children’s Dance Ensemble, formed by celebrated Chechen Dancer Ramzan Akhmadov and his wife, Aiza in 1998, to give children surrounded by violence and aggression a positive creative focus and room for emotional self-expression.  Their achievements over the past decade are truly phenomenal.  Coupled with the breathtaking talent and energy of the dances, each performance is a truly uplifting, emotional experience.

They will be visiting the UK this month for several performances.  Information on dates, venues and booking is all on the PBUK website. To whet your appetite I have added some links to past performances and reviews.

We are just awaiting confirmation of their visas, but all being well the group should arrive early next week, ready to wow new crowds at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and at several venues in London.

You can help to promote this event to others and get involved by RSVPing to our Facebook event page, adding your own photos to our Daimohk Flickr Group and if you use Twitter you can also follow us and spread the word, we’re at http://twitter.com/PeacebuildingUK

Get your tickets now to avoid disappointment, this is their first visit in three years and we anticipate sell-out shows!

Jelly

I’m off to the Birmingham Social Media Café again this Friday (last Friday of every month in the Coffee Lounge, Navigation Street). This month I’m planning on sticking around for a while afterwards to see how I get on with a spot of ‘Jelly’ type activity.


What is Jelly? from Amit Gupta on Vimeo.

Jelly is the name of a co-working scheme that started in the States.  Everyone brings along their shiny laptop (many of the attendees are freelancers or run small businesses ) and gather somewhere with free wi-fi, comfy seating and refreshments to get some work done.  The cost?  A cup of coffee.  And maybe some cake if you feel you’ve done enough work to treat yourself!

The idea is simple, but if, like myself, you spend most of the working week working from a home office, the idea of having a bit of company, even if it’s just a handful of people in the same room for an hour or two a month, is a welcome relief.

I’m convinced that so many projects and businesses fail because people feel trapped and isolated without the support networks and sociability that come with the work environment.  ‘Working from Home’ seems to be the magic wand for saving us from recession, being better parents or lowering our carbon footprint.  However, I’ve yet to see anything really address the emotional aspect of making this transition.

Silly name, potentially fantastic idea. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Social Media Surgeries

Here’s a plug for a really useful event happening this Wednesday. These guys know their stuff and I know people who have been to previous surgeries have really benefited….

If you belong to a Birmingham based community or neighbourhood group of charity please come and join us for the April 22nd 2009 Surgery.

When & Where

Drop in anytime between 5.30pm to 7.00pm at Fazeley Studios, 191 Fazeley Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR. It’s opposite the Bond and a go kart track. Push the large pale blue door with the silver door knob.

Lots to learn, little to lose. We promise you friendly advice.

These surgeries are organised by volunteer members of the informal Birmingham Bloggers group. Non of them are getting paid to provide the help.

What happens at these surgeries?

Volunteers from the Birmingham bloggers group are offering to show voluntary and community groups in the city how you can make best use of social media. It doesn’t matter if you are the head of communications at a major charity or an active citizen in your neighbourhood, if you’re at all curious come along.

No boring speeches, no jargon.

Tools like blogs, podcasts, video and social networks can give a real boost to campaigning organisations, often for no or little cost. So these experts are offering you approachable one to one help and support because they believe it can help. You may just want to see what is possible and go away and think about it. You might be itching to set up a blog and start using it.

Perhaps you think video might help you tell your story but don’t know where to start? All is possible. There’ll be no lectures, just people with knowledge, ideas and a passion to help you make best use of the internet for your organisation.

For more information and to sign up in advance go to www.paradisecircus.co.uk or contact Nick Booth on 0777 909 5692