Rachael took part in our City as Studio online film-making residency for ages 16-19 in February 2021. The young artists were encouraged to work with DIY film-making and music-making techniques as ways to explore the issues that matter most to them.
Rachael shares her experience of the residency, and how she used film-making and music to create a film sharing her message about the pressures of gender stereotypes.
Words and film by Rachael
Over lockdown, I took part in the City as Studio Online Residency run by Modern Art Oxford. This involved a week long course in which each day, I and a group of other people around my age group attended a Zoom session, led by lead artist Kate, assistant artist James, and MAO staff members Holly and Sara.
Over the week, our aim was to produce a final film, aided by the different activities from each day, including meeting a music artist to create soundtracks, experimenting with different filming techniques, and sharing and discussing our ideas with the group.
Originally I had thought that working over Zoom might prove difficult, but I found that it was a very lovely atmosphere and very easy to reach out if needed. Our videos could be shown and discussed afterwards, and everybody had a chance to share their ideas and thoughts at the end of each day.
Talking through Zoom meant that we could partake in group tasks, as well as on our own. The group tasks meant that we experienced working as a team with people that we were perhaps not particularly acquainted with, which will help us in later life as we have gained experience in collaborating with others.
As well as this, hearing a wide range of people’s feedback really helped me to consider many different viewpoints and ideas, and therefore alter my work in order to be the most relatable and therefore resonant.
The course encouraged us to look at topical issues that perhaps have recently been in the news, or generally called for being further explored.
I chose the theme of gender stereotypes and how they can affect a person, especially when being pressed upon us at a young age.
Early on in the week, I took many shots of children’s toys from interesting angles. This helped to add to the general commercial aesthetic of my film, which I wanted to appear as a purposely bad quality, twee, ironic and uncomfortable piece.
I created a soundtrack as inspired by the artist we met, using sound effects of old children’s toys, to represent the oppression caused by ‘gender-based’ toys and general influences. By overlaying the clips, the sound became more and more layered and manic. At that point I introduced ambulance sounds and a slow heartbeat to add a very deep feeling of how serious this issues is, whilst on the screen showing text of statistics of suicide and self harm rates caused by this issue.
I used a range of editing and video softwares, which gave me an understanding of the process of amateur filmmaking.
I planned from the start to make a faux bad quality film that included satire and dark humour, and felt that I delivered this, with a dark comedic twist at the end that I hope left people more uncomfortable than amused.
I was very happy with my piece as I felt that it was very hard hitting and pushed the message that I was aiming to vocalise. My film definitely improved with every group feedback session, as the positive feedback encouraged me to not hold back on my ideas and to fully express myself and my themes.
Through taking part in this course, I have gained an insight into how to produce amateur films, including elements such as soundtracks, visuals, and how these can work together to deliver my aims for the film.
I will definitely be making more films as it is a good pathway of activism on any topic, as well as being enjoyable and creative.
Find out more about City as Studio, here.