05 June 2015

I dream

Last autumn I heard about a competition to make a short film on the topic of follow your dreams. I had the idea of making an animation about my wild dreams of swimming and flying in my wheelchair.

I go to Arrcc in Folkestone, a centre offering creative activities for disabled people. Last summer we made paper cut pictures inspired by the Matisse paper cut exhibition at Tate Modern. I looked at paper cuts of the circus and dancers, made with really simple shapes, and thought I could use that idea in a stop motion animation. That's a good style for me, because I can draw simple shapes with support. You can see how I designed the paper cuts on the wall display.

I've done cut-out animation before. The first time I tried animation was at a community project at the Tyneside cinema in Newcastle, to celebrate the Angel of the North's tenth birthday. I made a little paper cut sequence about passing the Angel every day in my school taxi, and that inspired me to look for more opportunities to do animation, on work experience and in other projects. In 2013 I went to a workshop at Canterbury Anifest, where Charlotte Firmin showed us how Small Films used cut-out animation to make children's programmes like Ivor the Engine. I bought some software and started trying to make little animations at home. When I started going to Arrcc last summer, I was really excited that I could do film making there, because I was looking for opportunities to do more film making.

The other exciting thing that happened in 2014 was getting Grid 2 software and my new computer. With Grid 2 I can access the computer with the switch I use for my communication aid. That's fantastic because I can do more things independently, and the thing I most wanted to do was film editing. When I've make films before I have directed someone to be my hands on the computer, but I really wanted to edit them myself. I shot I Dream and recorded the voice over at Arrcc, with help from Dom, the film maker who works at Arrcc, and my mum, but I edited it at home. I needed help with the sound and subtitles, because I'm deaf,  but I did all the video editing myself with my switch. I was so excited when it worked! It's very slow and hard work, but I'm really happy I can do that.

Now I want to make lots more films!

06 November 2014

Dr Who fan of the month

In October I did an application to Whovian.net to be Dr Who fan of the month. I worked really hard answering all the questions on my communication aid, but they didn’t choose me. This is what I wrote.

Why are you worthy?

I'm a big Dr Who fan! I don't just love the Doctor, have all the Dr Who, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures DVDs, and have posters and a row of little Tardises in my bedroom. I also choose Dr Who photos for my profile photos on Facebook and Twitter, and write cryptic Dr Who tweets on my communication aid every Saturday morning about that evening's episode. Then later I tweet what I think of it. Tweets take me a very long time because I access the computer with a switch and special software. That's because I have cerebral palsy, and I'm also deaf. I love tweeting about Dr Who because on social media I can connect with other Dr Who fans and communicate equally with everyone. I have also made a Dr Who page on my communication aid, where I've programmed lots of questions and comments to make it easier for me to discuss Dr Who with other people. I always watch Dr Who Extra on i-player and I used to love Confidential, because I'm very interested in how films and television programmes are made. I'm working on a short animation about Daleks arriving in my village, and I have just made some block prints of an Ood and a Dalek. I'm planning to do a series of prints of Dr Who monsters, and maybe a Tardis print. I've even decorated my wheelchair with Dr Who stickers.

Firstly, how and when did you become a Doctor Who fan?

 I remember seeing a Dr Who trailer on BBC1 in 2005, with the ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler in the Tardis. I didn't know about Dr Who at that time, but I thought that looked an exciting programme. My parents watched with me, because they thought that might be too scary for me! I loved it, and I've watched every episode since. I thought Rose was a great character.

We're approaching the end of this year's epic series. What have been your highlights of the Twelfth Doctor's adventures thus far? 

 I think series 8 is fantastic. My favourite episodes are Deep Breath, Robot of Sherwood and In the Forest of the Night. I think Peter Capaldi is a great actor, though I do miss Matt, and I really like Jenna Coleman who plays Clara.

A new series means a brand new story arc and there's been an interesting one developing around Michelle Gomez as the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere, otherwise known as 'Missy'. Have you concocted any of your own theories about who she might be?

I think Missy is someone in the Doctor's life, maybe from a future he has not yet experienced. She seems to be a bad character, I'm a bit anxious about her!

Clara's been juggling two worlds this series as she's been developing a romance with Danny Pink, played by Samuel Anderson. Do you think that Danny's a good match for the impossible girl?

Maybe Clara and Danny will stay together in future, maybe they will get married, maybe not... Danny is not a bad match for Clara, but I'm not sure if he's good enough. No boyfriend can be as exciting as the eleventh Doctor!

2013 was a fantastic year for Doctor Who as fans around the world celebrated half a century of adventures in space and time. What golden memories will you cherish from the show's momentous 50th anniversary year?

I loved seeing the tenth and eleventh doctors together in The Day of the Doctor, and I was really interested to see all the programmes about the history of Dr Who. I enjoyed watching the BBC docu-drama "An Adventure in Time and Space", about the early years of Dr Who, and that encouraged me to start watching the very first stories from 1963. Now I've started to explore more stories from the sixties, seventies and eighties, so the anniversary year opened up a whole new dimension of Dr Who for me.

The spooky season of Halloween is once again upon us. What would you say is the scariest episode of Doctor Who to date, and why?

I find the Weeping Angels really scary. I think the scariest episodes are Blink, because Sally Sparrow's friend Kathy is taken back in time by the Weeping Angels and can never return, and Angels Take Manhattan, because I love New York and I felt upset about the Angels taking over the city. Amy and Rory were taken back in time; it was such a sad ending!

Is there any Doctor Who companion - past or present - that you particularly relate to?

I relate most to Clara, I really like her. She is brave, enthusiastic, confident and fun, and I love her style. I call my communication aid Clara because it's my companion, and I have a check dress a bit like Clara's.

Describe what being part of the Doctor Who fandom means to you in 12 words or less.

Connecting with fans around the world, sharing tweets, opinions, photos and clips.

Finally, is there anything else you'd like to say before you go?

Geronimo! Don't be lasagne!


17 May 2014

Harry Potter Studio Tour

I went to Harry Potter studios on my birthday. It’s at Leavesdon where the films were made.

I saw lots of sets from the films. I liked seeing the great hall, Gryffindor common room and Dumbledore’s office. In the set for the Burrow we saw Molly Weasley’s magic knitting, pan cleaning and chopping carrots and saw how they worked. Out-side we took photos of Privet Drive and the knight bus. We went up Diagon Alley and looked in the shop windows, that’s really magical!

I was interested in all the props from the film. There are lots of costumes, I like the invisibility cloak and Hermione’s dress from Yule ball. The wands are all different, and we saw the mirror of Erised, Harry’s photo album, the horcruxes and letters the owl brings to Harry at Privet Drive. We saw wigs and masks for goblins, and animatronic animals like Buckbeak and Aragog the giant spider.

 I’m interested in film making, so I liked seeing how they used green screen to film flying broomsticks and Mr Weasley’s flying car. We went in the flying car, we were filmed with green screen and we saw the car flying through the countryside on the monitor. They also used green screen for Harry’s invisibility cloak. It had green lining which made Harry disappear on green screen. At the end of the tour we saw the huge model of Hogwarts castle used to film all the different shots, like Harry on his broomstick with the dragon in the Goblet of Fire. The model castle is really magical and impressive.

 I think that was a really, really great day out. I loved seeing everything and I think it was brilliant  that we could book a British Sign Language interpreter and guide who explained and showed us everything. The butter beer was fizzy, creamy, sweet and delicious! I can’t wait to go again.

14 January 2014

Inaccessible Unacceptable

This is film we made at college with living streets. I directed it. We want people to be aware of the streets in Jesmond and about the accessibility problems. We want people to know how bad it is parking on a dropped kerb. The Student council thought about what maybe happen if people park on dropped kerb and made a storyboard. We made a script and we think about where to film the different Scenes. Filming took a long time but it was fun. People were nervous in front of the video camera but they got used to it. I enjoyed saying Action! And Cut!. When we filmed in doors we had a problem with lighting, it was too dark. We needed to use a light from the disco lounge to light Tom when he was reading the news. The problem was that Tom could not see because the light was in his eyes. When we filmed outside we had to wait for good weather. Every time we made plans to film, it rained! We used a little H.D video camera with a tripod, I checked the scene through the cameras screen before we started filming each part. Some times I used a Gorillapod tripod and put it on top of my DynaVox. We also used the gorillapod on Jill's wheelchair so that people could see things from her view. I used Serif MoviePlus to put the film together. I think editing quite easy, I enjoyed it. The music for the film was made by our Students in the music technology group. We hope you enjoy the film.

03 January 2014

Unspoken: My Voice

In this little film, different people who use communication aids talk about their voice and why it’s important to them. Lots of people I know are in the film. I’m in it, but you only see my Dynavox scanning, not my face.

The video was made by Kate Caryer and her friends, for a fundraising event to support a drama project about AAC. I think that’s an interesting idea. Kate is a 1 Voice role model.

Learning Animation

Learning Animation I got a webcam for Christmas to use with my Zu3D animation software. My mum and I made a short animation with my little toy puppies to practise moving things just a little bit, adding sound and doing titles and credits. I think that’s good for first time, but we have lots more things to learn!

03 December 2013

Canterbury Anifest

I went to animation festival on 4th and 5th October, in the university in Canterbury. There was a programme of masterclasses, film screening and talks. I went to a masterclass on cut-out animation with Charlotte Firmin. Her dad Peter and Oliver Postgate started Small Films in Canterbury in the 1960s, they made Ivor the engine, Bagpuss, Pingu and lots more animations for children's television. It was really interesting. I made a cut-out animation Ginger cat and animated and walking in a garden. There wasn't time to do much, I want to do more at home. I bought a Zu3d animation programme, it's easy to use but it can do lots of things. Later I went to a screening of short animations from around the world, by Students and independent film makers. I thought that was interesting because the films were all different. Some were funny, some sweet, some a little bit strange. On Saturday I went to a talk by Jim Parkin from Aardman about animating Shaun the sheep. Jim makes the models. He explained lots of things about how the programmes are made, with photos and clips. He was funny and interesting. He brought models of Shaun, little Timmy and other sheep, and after the talk we could take photos with the sheep models. I think Anifest was really good. I want to go again next year and go to more talks, films and maybe masterclasses.

01 October 2013

Dover Dash

The Dover Dash is a sports afternoon for disabled people. It's in Dover leisure centre on Saturdays. I went twice. I played boccia and I tried to join in dancing. I was the only one with a wheelchair. They have other sports but I can't do them, maybe I can do kurling next time. I chatted to people with my DynaVox, some people didn't really wait for me but some were friendly. Kate organises that, she's nice and friendly.