Project Reel Life is hosting its Community Celebration tonight (Tuesday, Dec. 17) at Ladysmith Secondary School.
The event kicks off at 7 p.m., with doors opening half an hour prior, and it will showcase a wide variety of digital compilations, which were produced by local youths over the past year.
“On Tuesday night we’re having a community celebration where we’ll be highlighting all the hard work the youths have been doing over the past year since Project Reel Life started,” said mentor Joshua Raven.
The project has allowed youths the opportunity to use digital media to express stories from their life or the community, with Raven and company acting as knowledgeable aids along the way.
“It’s a digital media program but there’s no constraints,” said Raven. “There’s spoken word, interpretative dance and lots of video projects like documentaries, music videos and short films. It’s all filmed and composed by the youths.
“From a mentorship perspective, we are just removing any technical obstacles that might get in the way of their creativity, then all that remains is that creative flow. Sometimes it’s just which button to push.”
Project co-ordinator Bill Taylor, who teaches drama at Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS), believes the prospect of youths finding a voice to express themselves is vital in modern-day society.
“We’re encouraging them to take an active role in telling their own story,” said Taylor, who has also been involved extensively in the mentoring process. “It’s our job as mentors to connect them with resources to help them tell the stories. It’s about being able to have time to think about your story when you’re stuck, and get unstuck. However you access that, whether it’s through art or dance or video work, that’s what we’re here for.”
All the technology used in the lead up to the celebration and on the night has been provided by the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association (LRCA), a gesture for which Raven and Taylor are very grateful.
“Stories operate in multiple levels,” said Taylor. “The power in recording the stories and to tell them as media is a very powerful thing. These projects are making youth feel better about the world and suggest there’s better choices to work through the struggles they’re facing and not use drugs or alcohol. It’s about listening to youths’ voices and helping them find their power as human beings.”
Raven believes the variety of art forms that have been used and not limiting that has been key.
“Not limiting the art form was one of the most interesting and powerful parts of this project — otherwise you’re projecting on them,” he said. “We asked them what they wanted to do. It’s about engaging at-risk youth in a creative environment.
“It’s not about what the kids are doing in five years — it’s in the moment. The result is the process; it’s not about the finished product.”
Taylor is an advocate of creative platforms and agreed that being a mentor was more about advising, rather than actively teaching.
“We live in a consumer-driven society based on money,” he said. “Kids are given devices [such as cell phones] to consume and are taught to buy stuff. We’re encouraging them to turn that around and tell their stories about the community. It’s a transformative act.”
A similar showcase is also being presented tomorrow (Wednesday, Dec. 18) at the Stz’uminus Community Centre at 6 p.m.