Notoriously difficult to get right, ‘positive message’ films can be a challenge to make appealing without being worthy. Mediabox, a media agency geared towards young people, commissioned JUJU Films to run a film-making course for disadvantaged students in conjunction with a popular youth sports programme, mentoring them through making a short film.

Our first task was to catch and hold the attentions of fifteen sports students more interested in football than in filmmaking. After getting them onside and engaged with the filming process, we then started to identify strong central characters within the group who could literally and figuratively represent the voices of their peers onscreen. Once we’d found our presenters, it was their experiences and charisma which helped shape the film.

For the training workshops we hired in low end HD cameras, and took on a hands on approach to both teaching and filming – often guiding the trainees’ hands when holding the cameras. With only two short takes, and only JUJU’s existing archive material for cutaways, our skilful edit played a key role in bringing out the strengths of the narrative delivery with playful and judiciously timed cuts.

Our way of working brought out a moving and intimate portrayal of the young people on the course, and fully represented the ‘positive message’ requested in the brief while staying true to the people involved. We also made a direction-changing difference to their lives: as a direct impact of uTurn, one of our students is now very active in police youth work. It’s a piece of which we are very proud, particularly given the constraints of filming and workshopping during the process.

The film has been used for fundraising by both the youth project and the football company involved: currently showing on their website, it is the most popular of the twenty videos on the site.


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