Library films

Of all the projects I’ve worked on I think the filming I have done for Yardley Libraries has been one of the most enjoyable. I have fond memories of going along to my local community library with my Mum as a kid, and it’s wonderful to see kids getting as much enjoyment as I did when browsing the shelves.

Yardley Libraries are doing some really innovative stuff to ensure that families get the most from their visits. I’ve eventually got round to putting the films of these projects online so why not check them out?


The Birmingham Social Media Café has put me in touch with some lovely, lovely people, Karen Strunks being no exception.

Not only did Karen badger me to sign up to Twitter (@RachelGillies if you’re wondering!), but she’s the brains behind the inspired 4am Project. What began as Karen wandering the streets of Brum taking photos in the early hours has led to a global photography project with people posting up a whole host of images documenting the world at 4am.

As if dragging people from their slumber wasn’t ambitious enough Karen is asking people to rise early (or stay up for those with enough stamina!) to get some snaps of the world wherever you are at 4am on 04/04 – that’s 4am this coming Saturday. She’s asking people in Brum to converge at the Bull in the Bull Ring for some nocturnal adventures round the markets, followed by a cuppa.

Have a look at the 4am website for more details and to get some inspiration.  More photos are appearing by the day!

How RSS feeds work

The RSS symbol
The RSS symbol

For a while I’ve been badgering the students I teach to begin using RSS feeds to access a whole host of interesting and relevant information. Eventually I’ve found a (slightly cheesey) YouTube video which outlines what they are and how to set them up. I use my AppleMail programme to access my feeds, and prior to that I used my Firefox web browser. Go with whatever works for you… have a think about where you access the net and how you like your information to be organised.  Check out the video – RSS in plain English

Wonderful people

I’m working on a couple of projects at the moment that have got me quite excited. The kind of projects that make you want to shout from the rooftops about good people doing great things!

I’m currently completing an edit for Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust. I’ve been privileged to interview some great people who have spoken openly and frankly about the warmth, kindness, care and attention they have been given throughout their treatment. Whilst the media often portrays the NHS as a huge, unwieldy, impersonal organisation, it’s heartening, and absolutely vital, that these human stories illustrate just what a great service the NHS can provide. If you were one of the patients interviewed, thank you so much for sharing your story!

Another group of amazing, caring people are working away tirelessly at CATS, an organisation based in Balsall Heath which provides respite care for families of children with disabilities. It’s an absolutely vital service which the parents I met so eloquently described as making a world of difference, yet it currently operates on a shoestring, short-term budget. They provide a unique service, through one-to-one care, playscheme places for siblings and plenty of varied and exciting trips and activities!  I had a great time meeting parents and exploring the ThinkTank with the group!  The website, produced by the lovely people at Matrix Graphics is due to launch soon and the film will be added to the website soon after that – links to follow soon!

CiB wins!

I’m really thrilled to pass on the news that Created in Birmingham has been announced as the winner of the Best UK Blog at the 2008 Weblog Awards!  A huge thanks to everyone who voted, I’m chuffed to bits that Birmingham is setting the standard for innovative and constructive ways of using the internet!

What’s more, the campaign around the voting has been brilliant, with more and more people chatting, networking, tagging, twittering and commenting.  The beauty of CiB is that it is all about interacting, about dialogue, a social tool for constructing something positive and tangible in the real world.

Hopefully it signifies a shift away from this horrible adversarial blogging style, where ‘commentators’ post up their vitriolic opinions which are then followed by hundreds of comments from people who enjoy picking fights.  Yes, Melanie Phillips, I do mean you.

The thing that really excites me is that CiB will have a whole new community of readers and contributors so the hope is that it will go from strength to strength, and in turn, so will creative activities around Birmingham.  It makes such a huge difference to me to feel like I’m a part of something so exciting.  Like so many ventures, it’s really the sum of its parts, so the onus is now on us to get involved.  Yes, that means you as well.

To get you started, please have a read of this CiB blog post about how to use RSS feeds.  If you don’t already use them it is well worth having a look at, I use my Apple Mail program to access my feeds, and in the past I’ve used the Firefox Web Brower but there are many other methods, just choose one to suit you.  The CiB post also has links to a number of excellent Birmingham Blogs which you may find useful.  Oh, and don’t forget to add me too!

Created in Birmingham – vote now!!!


Brummies are notoriously bad at shouting about the things that we’re good at and when we do we generally end up reeling off names of bands that haven’t seen the inside of a recording studio for the past two decades.

That has changed in the past few years with a whole host of blogs springing up to draw attention to some of the great stuff happening (or not happening as the case may be!) across the city.  Just take a look at Up Yer Brum for an eclectic mix of photos and stories voted on by the public.  Or the ever entertaining Birmingham It’s Not Shit run by Jon Bounds who brought us Talk Like a Brummie Day and urged us to spend 11 hours on the 11 bus route!

Amongst the best blogs is Created in Birmingham which does pretty much what it says on the tin – a one-stop shop for finding out about the creative goings-on in Brum.  It’s been nominated for the 2008 weblog awards and stands an excellent chance of winning.

Not only would this be a huge boost to the creative community in Birmingham and the people who have put so much time into developing the website, it also heralds a new era where people can link up more easily than ever.  I’m currently teaching film-making at Matthew Boulton College and Created in Birmingham  is an excellent means of encouraging students to share their work with others and breaking down traditional barriers between the supposed ‘Creative Industry’ and those who are making their first tentative steps into their field of choice.

If I’ve not convinced you, have a read of this post from another nominee, Pete Ashton, urging you to vote for Created in Birmingham.  I’ll save my blood pressure and let him explain why the current leader, Melanie Phillips shouldn’t win!

You can vote every day until 13th January – VOTE NOW!

Them and Their Movie

The BBC ‘Me and My Movie’ workshop which I worked on last week turned out to be a really action packed day with lots of great ideas and enthusiasm from all of the young people who took part.  The finished two minute film will be put forward for a CBBC ‘Me and My Movie Award’ in association with BAFTA.

This article on the BBC Birmingham website gives  a flavour of some of the activities we got up to.  Huge thanks are due to Jenni, Tessa and Andrea at the BBC for all their hard work.  Well done to all the young people, keep on making movies!

Me and My Movie

Would you like to make a movie in a day and potentially win an award in association with BAFTA?

On 28th August I will be running a one day workshop at the BBC Public Space in The Mailbox, Birmingham to help young people between the ages of 6 and 14 to produce a film which will be entered into CBBC’s ‘Me and My Movie’ competition.

You will work with up to seven other young people to produce the two minute film, taking responsibility for scripting, filming, directing and editing the entire film. Winners get to go to a glitzy awards ceremony in London!

Read more about Me and My Movie and then check out the BBC Birmingham website for details on how to apply.

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