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(Jazz Hands, 2014)

Tariq and Kamarl

(Jazz Hands 2014)

tariq int

"This project has wonderful benefits for students and is a great outlet for them to express their ideas and feelings towards the world around them. "

Carolanne Acheson, English Teacher, Chelsea Academy

“Excellent! We need more of this kind of thing in dealing

with alienated and excluded young people, not more


William Van Klaveren JP

"Writing dialogue like that is hard, even for professional writers."

Charles Steel, producer of 'Top Boy"

"I hope that those responsible for youth justice policy will take note of Shootstraight’s work, because it provides the clearest possible evidence that giving, even the most apparently bad, an opportunity to express themselves, and treating them as fellow human beings, can turn their lives around."

Lord Ramsbotham, former Inspector of Prisons

"I can say without exaggeration that the results have been astonishing.

The children become fascinated by and involved in the activity. The exclusion of such children is idiotic because they are the kind of people who go into the film industry." 

Lord Falkland, Parliamentary Hansard HL 2 April 2014 col 998


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(New Cross Gate, 2015)


(New Cross Gate, 2015)



(Quinalbarbitone, 2015)

Another collaboration with a Goldsmiths project called Open Book aimed at widening the participation in education. Eight young people progressed through a three-month improvisation and film workshop run by non-profit community interest company Shootstraight. Their lives in deprived, crime-ridden areas of London were appallingly complicated, dangerous and grinding – and yet through the creative process, they showed immense reserves of inventiveness and resilience.

The project used improvisation workshops to develop young people’s belief that, as the workshop leader, Lucinda Cary put it: “everything they need is in their imaginations”. In one activity, Cary asked the actors to draw a card from a pack and then exude the status denoted by the card – improvising a scene, walking across a room, or even just sitting silently on a chair.

In the middle of a life controlled by JobCentre and probation service appointments, police stop-and-search, and exclusion from mainstream education, they were able to experience feelings of confidence, entitlement, and control. At the same time, the young people were able to tell their stories – to voice their troubles and identify the sticking points in their lives.

After a few weeks of improvisation exercises, Cary and her cameraman brought in a camera and focused it on the young actors. Its gaze served to value them and their stories. The Shootstraight workshops led to the creation of a film, New Cross Gate, which follows a few days in the lives of a diverse group of friends in South East London. The script emerged from the stories and scenarios the young people drew on during their improvisation workshops, and addresses personal relationships, violence, homophobia, poverty, and the dignity-sapping benefits system.

Building on their newfound confidence, some of the participants are now in full-time work and a few are employed as part-time film technicians and actors. The film was launched at the House of Lords on March 25. Through the creative process, their improvised status has been made real.

Anna Carlile, Senior Lecturer in Inclusive Education, Goldsmiths

From 'How space for creativity opens up young people’s minds' in 'The Conversation'