Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Project Proposal

Project Proposal – Act for Change

Members of the Group

Jo-Anne Rowney

Neil Hallett

Olivia Leong

David Houssein

Charlotte Hussey

Ashlee Crabbe

Working Hypothesis and Interpretations

Act for Change is a charity that tries to change young people’s perceptions via interviews/meetings with Holocaust survivors and other victims of persecution and prejudice. To quote from the Act for Changes website;

“Act for Change works with secondary schools to inspire attitudes of personal responsibility in young people and enable them to be agents of positive change as part of the K3 Curriculum. We want to empower young people to act with empathy and compassion in their families, school and community. We want young people to have a space to explore their own social behaviour and tools that they can use in their future lives. We want to increase awareness of the difference every individual can make.”[1]

By survivors relating their experiences, Act for Change tries to help people realise their responsibility to themselves and to society. The outline from Act for Change was to produce some short promotional videos for broadcast via their website. It is anticipated that these videos will encourage interest in the organisation (e.g. schools to book sessions) and possibly donations.

After the start of the Second World War and the subsequent invasion of many European countries by Germany, various groups of people (e.g. ethnic, disabled and religious) were rounded up by the Nazis and sent to forced labour and death camps (concentration camps). While many young people may have heard of these events, they may not know the specifics; what it was like to try and escape from the authorities, to live in a camp and to be starving. Three promotional films will be produced; film one will be a video involving previous students from the course. This is aimed at encouraging teachers and youth workers to book interviews with survivors. The other two films will be more general films showing responses from those interviewed. Mainly it is thought that these films will be educational in orientation, showing what the organisation does to encourage interest.

Topic and Exposition

The approach for film one will include the questions that the students ask and their experiences of going on the course/s, showing the level of interaction that it produces from the young people concerned. This will also involve the Act for Change staff discussing the course. The questions may be asked off camera and not included in the final film, as it is the responses from the students that are of interest. It is expected that this will encourage interest from teachers and anyone working with young adults to book courses with the charity.

It is proposed that films two and three will be promotional films and include general responses from the Holocaust survivors interviewed. It is thought that poignant, powerful and emotive stories will encourage interest in the organisation. Via these three films it is hoped that the emotional or responsive elements of those interviewed will highlight the Act for Change message.

Action Sequences

Filming will take place at the De Havilland studios on the 26th March and will be focusing on interviews, with the students, staff of Act for Change and ourselves asking questions as previously mentioned.

Initial titles would introduce the film, Act for Change and any further relevant information. Minimal camera/zoom movement will be used, as this could be distracting or unnecessary due to the nature of the subject matter. The use of potentially three different camera positions/angles via the studio set up will be mixed together depending on which is thought the most appropriate. Generally these will be medium close-up shots with possibly an initial establishing shot of the group, if time and space permit.

In film one, the students will be asked about their experiences via Act for Change staff and ourselves. In film two and three, the interviewer will be off camera or the questions themselves may not be included within the final films. It has also been suggested that inter-titles may be used to help establish the interviewers and interviewees or for further specific information on the subject. This, possibly along with short exerts from archive footage or photographs, may also be included. However, these elements would be dependent on time and space within the films themselves. The final credits will include the contact details for Act for Change, details of interviewees and Act for Change staff and then our group’s names.

Main Characters

Film one will include the students from Act for Change relating their experiences, from participation in the programme to asking the Holocaust survivors questions. We and the Act for Change staff will also interview the students and asking about their experiences from the course. Films two (Alec Ward) and three (Anita Lasker-Wallfisch) will devote more space to their individual stories. Details of the students/interviewees are as follows:

Film One

Students: Samantha Bransby Jessica Redman

Rebecca Emmett Charlotte Tanner

Melissa Pewy Kerri Wilsher

Act for Change Staff: Lea Misan

Film Two

Alec Ward, born Abram in Warsaw, Poland in 1927. After the Nazis invaded, he rapidly saw his freedom evaporate until he and his family were segregated in the Magnuszew ghetto in 1941. Alec became the breadwinner, but was caught along with his brother and sent to one of three forced labour camps. He never saw his brother again, but survived the regimes of Buchenwald and Mauthausen. In 1945 he was liberated and sent to the UK with the help of the Central British Fund as one of a group of 732, whose friendship bonded them together for life.

Film Three

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, born in Breslau Germany in 1925. Her mother was a violinist and her father was a lawyer who had fought in the First World War, gaining the Iron Cross. They had suffered from discrimination since 1933, but felt they had some degree of immunity due to their father’s service in the previous conflict. However this was to prove not sufficient enough to save them, and Marianne, Anita’s eldest sister fled to England in 1941. In 1942 Anita’s parents were taken away and later that same year Anita and Renate also tried to escape to France using forged documents although unfortunately the Gestapo captured them. They arrived at Auschwitz on a prison train, and it was here that Anita’s talent with a cello saved her and she was forced into the camp orchestra. By 1944, the camp was in danger of being over run by the Red Army and so she was evacuated to Bergen-Belsen. She managed to survive here with virtually no food for six months until the liberation of this camp. In 1946 she and Renate immigrated to England with the help of Marianne, and Anita became a famous cellist with the English Chamber Orchestra.


Although the films may be in a monologue/interview style, the dramatic angle will come from the stories of the interviewee’s themselves e.g. how they escaped or survived, what may have particularly struck them in a moment while they were in a dire situation. It is hoped that this angle of ‘survival against the odds’ will also show the interest/inspiration in the teenagers that will be asking the questions and used in film one. The experiences of the students and what benefited them from going on the course/s is also expected to be portrayed.

Possible problems could arise from the students’ questions. As we cannot control whether they engage with asking the questions and therefore providing the footage needed for the films. This will be particularly important for the Act for Change film as we cannot predict what the filming will produce making it hard to plan the film.

In film two and three it is hoped that the dramatic nature of these stories will help generate interest/donations to the Act for Change charity. There has to be a balance between their story and capturing the emotive nature of the tales while also informing the audience who may not know much about the holocaust.

Social Significance

The inspirational stories will encourage both personal responsibility and responsibility to society in a wider context, in line with Act for Change’s message. While these films differ in their stories all of them could be used together to engender discussion possibly within lessons (e.g. History, Religious Education).

Whilst the individual may know of the events in 1939-1945, they may not know the human side of the story which films two and three will show. Film one would also show the thoughts and feelings of those who have previously gone on the course/s and how it would relate to people in current contemporary society. Through these films it is hoped to show that the social freedoms and basic human rights that we take for granted could easily be taken away or undermined.

Audience, its Knowledge and Bias

As previously discussed, the audience may know of the Nazi’s policy of racial, medical and religious eugenics in World War Two, however, they may not know of the specifics or a person who has lived through it. With regards to the audience for film one, the teachers or youth workers may know more about the time period in question. This film would be aimed at showing the interest and response of the young interviewers rather than showing the topic in as much depth as films two and three. It is hoped that this would encourage the respective interested parties to book interview sessions rather than be as educational as film two or three.

Film two and three, could be aimed at the casual viewer; someone looking for more information on Act for Change or possibly someone researching the Holocaust. This audience’s knowledge could be based on age, education or speciality of interest. In other words, the viewer could know nothing, a little or a lot more than what the film could show. It is hoped that at the very least the memories of the survivors could add to the human side of these events. If anything, bias would be in favour of those being interviewed; however, care should be taken not to make any of these films overly sentimental. If allowed to go too far, this could discourage any of the types of viewers as previously outlined and therefore discourage subsequent interest.

To-Camera Interviews

We will interview World War II Holocaust survivors (Alec Ward and Anita Lasker-Wallfisch) and students from the Act for Change organisation.

  • Early history – how they got caught up in events, how it affected day to day life or family.
  • What happened as things gradually got worse – where/when they were caught, did they try to escape to another country, etc.
  • If/when caught – what were the conditions like/experiences of.
  • When they were finally liberated and whether or not any other members of their family survived?
  • Attitude to life/how there experience has affected them.

This is a general outline based on previous film files given to us by Act for Change; actual questions will be mainly generated by the teenagers themselves and may differ from this format.

Film one would largely include shots of the teenagers asking questions and being interviewed by Act for Change staff regarding their experiences of the course/s (possible voice over of answers from those interviewed). Film two and three would largely include the Holocaust survivors’ responses and any short stories or reminiscences, as space would be limited for these in film one.

Form and Style

Film One – Students from Act for Change Course/s

  • Documentary style
  • Introduction (title – possibly some information about subject and/or music).
  • Interview questions from teenagers, eye line slightly to left/right of camera (dependent on seating arrangements).
  • Questions from Act for Change staff to students regarding course/s.
  • Possible inter-titles where appropriate (explanations/information, etc.).
  • Voiceover of answers where appropriate.
  • End titles with information about Act for Change and credits (music).

Film Two (Alec Ward) and Three (Anita Lasker-Wallfisch)

  • Documentary style
  • Introduction (title – possibly some information about subject or music).
  • Responses from questions by interviewees, eye line slightly to left/right of camera (dependent on seating arrangements).
  • Possible inter-titles where appropriate (explanations/information/etc).
  • End titles with information about Act for Change and credits (music).

As previously mentioned, either film may include some archive footage or still images with voice over of answers from interviewees/students if time or space allows within each film. This would emphasis the stories of the survivor, but would be dependent on the available media and the stories the survivors tell.


As outlined above, each film would end with thanks to Act for Change, participants and the end credits. Audio could overlay the credits to end with a poignant comment from the interviews. This could reflect Act for Change’s intended beneficial effect on society; how the interviewees’ experiences have affected them or how they wish these experiences to be viewed. This would encourage the viewer of any of the films to have a more positive response and generate further interest.


Film One – Students





Introduction - title – possibly some information about subject or Act for Change.

Possibly Music – instrumental,


Questions from teenagers to interviewees.

Act for Change staff interviewing students.

Interview with Lea Misan.

Inter-titles where appropriate (explanations /information/images, etc).


End titles including information about Act for Change and credits.

Music – instrumental,

Film Two – Alec Ward





Introduction - title – possibly some information about subject or Act for Change.

Music – instrumental,


Responses from questions from interviewees.

Inter-titles where appropriate (explanations /information/images, etc).

Voice over of answers where appropriate.


End titles including information about Act for Change and credits.

Music – instrumental,

Film Three – Anita Lasker-Wallfisch





Introduction - title – possibly some information about subject or Act for Change.

Music – instrumental


Responses from questions from interviewees.

Inter-titles where appropriate (explanations /information/images etc).

Voice over of answers where appropriate.


End titles including information about Act for Change and credits.

Music – instrumental


The questions are split into three types; one for the Holocaust survivors and one for the students and one for the Act for Change staff. As previously mentioned, the students and Act for Change staff will also have questions of their own. The Act for Change staff or ourselves may also help the students with their delivery of their questions should the need arise.

General research and background information allows a flexible approach to the interview style, as laid out in the ‘to Camera’ interviews section. The interviewers will allow or encourage the interviewees to relate their story with questions prompting further responses as the interview progresses or based on the story the interviewees are relating at the time. A general outline of our group’s questions to the Holocaust survivors is given below; however this is by no means exhaustive or complete, as questions are largely to be based on the interview itself.

Holocaust Survivors (films 2 and 3)

  1. Introduction, Name, where born, etc.
  2. What was your first experience of anti-Semitism?
  3. What was it like being separated from your family?
  4. Was there any difference between the camps that you were in?
  5. Did you think when you said goodbye to members of your family that you'd see them again?
  6. How did you feel when you were liberated?
  7. How did you feel when you left your country to come to Britain?

The student questions asked by us are given below, however Act for Change staff will also ask questions to help with the promotional aspects of film one. These questions are given as an example and are by no means complete; the experiences of the students themselves will to a large extent govern the types of questions asked.

  1. Introduction, Name, School, Age etc
  2. Did you enjoy the seminar?
  3. Did you find talking to the survivors an eye opening experience?
  4. How do you feel this will affect you personally?
  5. Do you appreciate the freedom you have got now you have attended the seminar?
  6. Having attended the seminar, has it influence the way you think now?

Lea Misan, Director of Development for Act for Change, will also be asked questions these will largely relate to the nature and outlook of the charity. This will also to help introduce film one and propose the charity’s desired effect on society in general.

  1. Introduction, who are you, etc.
  2. What does Act for Change do?
  3. What do you hope the students who go on your courses obtain from the experience?
  4. Do you think the Holocaust survivors also acquire something from this interaction?
  5. Do you think that society can be changed from these courses that you offer?
  6. What is Act for Changes’ plans for the future?


Alec Ward

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch

A. Lasker-Wallfisch, ‘Inherit the Truth 1939-1945: The Documented Experiences of a Survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen’, (London, Giles de la Mare, 2005).


Thursday, 2 April 2009

Editing so far

Wow, what a tiring process editing is, but it's good all the same. We've started to bond and work really well as a group so that's a bonus.

We've done a lot so far:

Anita Film:
  • Watched footage through
  • Cut interviewer's voice out
  • Split into chunks
  • Named chucks so we could find them later
  • Put the chunks of film into a rough order
  • Made the transitions
  • Added pictures [pictures of Anita before being imprisoned and act for change logo]
  • Added some more transitions to fade in the images
  • Extracted the audio so we could add Anita's commentry over the photographs
  • Tidied up clip order
  • adjusted fade speeds to ensure smoothe transitions
  • Made credits
This film is finished

Alec Film:
  • Watched footage through
  • Cut interviewer's voice out
  • Split into chunks
  • Named chucks so we could find them later
  • Put the chunks of film into a rough order
  • Made the transitions
  • Added pictures of Buchenwald
  • Added some more transitions to fade in the images
  • Tidied up clip order
  • adjusted fade speeds to ensure smoothe transitions
  • Made credits
Almost done on this.

Student Film:
  • Watched footage through
  • Cut interviewer's voice out
  • Split into chunks
  • Seperated Student clips from Act for Change staff clips
  • Named chucks so we could find them later
  • Put the chunks of film into a rough order
  • Made the transitions
Still a little way to go on this, but if we put in a couple of decent editing sessions it shouldn't be a probem.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Filming report

The filming went really well I think. In total we got loads and loads of footage, so we wont be stuck for material.

The sound came out really well, though Alec was a little quiet, but it's no problem. The image is nice and crisp too, so thumbs up on that.

It was really interesting meeting our guests. I was fortunate enough to be able to get to know Alec a bit before he went on film. His story was really sad and I felt really honored to meet him. There were a few tears too, which isn't much of a suprise. After hearing what he went through, I will never complain about anything again! It really brings home how fortunate we are but so many people take it for granted.

It was fun having the kids around from the school too. It made a change having people much younger around. It kind of gave the studio a youthful vibe, even with Alec and Anita around.

Overall, the filming was a sucess and I feel the day was a very positive experience.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Post initial meeting / Pre tutorial

We met this time last week to discuss our project so far and to make the next steps.

What we discussed:

  • Time management
  • Our questions
  • Filming style
  • Our interviewees

Time management: This is going to be very difficult for us because we can't even film until Thursday 26th March, which essentially leaves us with very little time for editing and finishing off the paper work. A few of us will be on holiday at some point over the easter break, so we'll be losing more time there. But, this isn't impossible. We have a large group and can share the work load, and a couple of us have said that we're willing to come in and work on it at weekends and late nights.

Our Questions: We've learnt from some of the previous videos not to ask obvious and badly structured questions. We'll get much better footage if we ask the right questions and try to steer our interview in the direction that we want them to go.

Filming Style: We've decided that only the interviewee will be in the film. We're undecided whether the interviewer's voice will be cut, but s/he definately wont be in the shot. We've got the film studio for the whole day, so we have plenty of time to get enough footage. Some of us have other seminars to attend, but at least two people have the whole day free.

Our Interviewees: So far we only know who one of our interviewees is; Alec Ward, a Polish man who survived the slave camps after the Nazis invaded Poland. We're currently preparing some questions for him.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


The latest is that I've settled on the 'Survivors of War' project.

This promises to be really interesting. I've always had an interest in history, so it's going to be an honour to meet people who are a bit part of it.

Last week we watched some previous groups' films, and some of the filming was really poor! On the plus side, my group can learn from their mistake and hopefully make a good film.


  • Inconsistent camera work - in one of the films, the shot was zooming in and out too much and the camera person was too eagar to follow the every move of the interviewee.
  • Poor sound - some of them were just too quiet.
  • Bad interviewing technique - I understand that it can be difficult to interview a stranger if you're not confident, but I felt it was really poor in some of the films. One of the interviews used a lot of poor and colloquial English, which isn't acceptable when interviewing an adult.

There were some good points though, and my group need to take them board.


  • Good sound - one of the films had very crisp sound. It really displays how important good sound in, especially in comparison to the film which had poor sound.
  • Good interview skills - one of the films had some good interviewing. It's important to ask the right questions to allow the interviewee to something interesting.

Friday, 13 February 2009

My thoughts on some Cinema Verite films

Don't look back by Pennybaker

Short and sweet. Doesn't really have a point, but I appreciate the raw footage and Pennybaker was lucky enough to catch Dylan in a humourous mood.

Salesmen by Maysles brothers

It's a short documentary, but so much information is conveyed through through excellent editing. It's ahead of its time; I view this as a prelude to the dark side of capitalism that we're experiencing today - the pushiness of those who are desperate for a single dollar and the cut-throat engine that powers the culture. I think it's the music and the way the shots are cut that really makes this stand out; the sarcastic use of the image of jesus and the jolting zoom is brilliant.

JFK film

I love this. With the benefit of hindsight, it's very chilling; there are some similarities between his and Obama's election. It really brings home what happened and what could happen again. But of course, this was filmed 3 years before his assasination, and when distancing oneself from the events that followed, the one thing that's striking about this film is how convincing it is. It really shows the power and influence the media has. Further to that, anything on real black & white film looks excellent.

Twenty-Seven short stories

Like the idea a lot. It's unique and creative, but it's nowhere as interesting as it should be and looks like it's heading towards desperate 'X-Factor' style enterainment.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Idea fest

It sounds like I lack ideas, but I dont. I'm open to almost anything. In fact, I'm getting bored of my comfort zone. I'd happily make a film about something that's completely alien.

A few people have posted up ideas on Studynet. I like the idea of a public service announcement and the mockumentary staging the assination of Gordon Brown - could be tricky though! I'm up for a challenge, but I don't want to get involved in something that's beyond me at this stage.

My biggest interests are music, politics, film and culture. That leaves me open to a lot! Hopefully in the next seminar we'll be in groups and can get the ball rolling.