PROJECT: Somewhere You Need To Know – High School Multimedia Storytelling Grade 7-12
LOCATION: Tumbler Ridge is a small town in northern British Columbia, Canada
GOAL: Produce a student-lead video that celebrates what makes their community so unique
PROCESS: Our multimedia storytelling sessions started with creating a vision for the project and brainstorming with all the classes searching for possible stories. This process helps students see their community with new eyes. We’re not obligated to include everything we come up with, at the beginning we want to create a swirl of energetic ideas that catch everyone up in the excitement.
Being a remote northern community located in the mountains is what makes life in Tumbler Ridge so unique. Bears walk through town, most people hunt and fish and take quads mudbogging (and apparently often get stuck and run over). On day one we’re just writing it all down and using our conversations as a way to discover the story we want to tell.
DAY TWO: There were a handful of students who played guitar and brought their instruments to the next session as we started writing music and lyrics for our song. The inspiration for the lyrics came from one moment as we talked about how people often refer to small towns like Tumbler as being, ‘in the middle of nowhere’ and that sparked a conversation…if Tumbler is the middle of nowhere…where is the center of somewhere? Vancouver? London? New York? And who gets to say?
recognizing the value of finding
our voice to tell our story
We created storyboards and shot lists, and students who wanted to be on camera, acting or speaking were able to volunteer. Part of learning to tell a story is recognizing the value of finding our voice to tell our story. It’s up to us…no one can do it for us.
FILMING & RECORDING: Multimedia projects like this really require a free-wheeling documentary-style approach. You always want to have a camera handy to capture a great moment. And my goal is to represent as many students as possible, in as many ways as possible, celebrating their diversity and unique talents and abilities.
Over the next few days, we filmed our scenes. One group invited me to their Outdoor Ed class where they learn to build shelters, survive in the wilderness and cook moose smokies over portable fire pits made out of washing machine drums welded to lawnmowers.
Another class took me on a hike where just 17 minutes from the front door we arrived at Flatbed Falls. We had multiple cans of bear spray with us because the wildlife is actually that close. (as indicated by the number of people who put up their hands when asked if they’d met a bear walking around town!)
Creativity provides its own invitation to participate. As we were talking about bears in the community one girl volunteered to put on the school bear mascot costume. Another girl jumped in and volunteered to put on a cheerleading outfit and cheer for the bear. When I actually came around the corner to fill our scene there were a handful of girls in cheerleading outfits.
everyone involved recognizes how their piece
is special and fits with those around them
Other students aren’t so comfortable with being in front of the camera, but they have equally important stories to contribute to the video, and the art is finding ways to include them that they are comfortable with. Like the three art students who didn’t want to say anything on camera but were happy to draw while the camera filmed them. Speeding up the footage in post-production was a fun and interesting way to include their stories, and combining those visuals while we listened to one student rap and another sing the school song in the student lounge made for some really interesting segments.
The same was true about including the guys at the skatepark, and the class that spent every recess playing a game called, Ga-Ga Ball, the girl with a horse, the students pretending their school had a Camo Crew and the group from Career Education who made their own go-carts and the community that came out to support them on race day.
END RESULT: This project was created over the course of one week. It’s a celebration of a very creative and talented community of visual artists, musicians, rappers, Career Ed welders and Go Cart racers, actors, skaters that all make Tumbler Ridge somewhere you need to know about.
Working on a project like this lets everyone involved recognize how their piece is special and fits with all those around them who are gifted differently. Sharing the finished video online lets the rest of the community share in the celebration. This video from a small northern community has been viewed over 8K times!
Somewhere You Need To Know
So much to see
So much to do
I want to show you
The middle of nowhere
Is actually somewhere
You need to know about
What you don’t know
About our world
You need to now
Cause it’s beautiful
If your school or community would like this opportunity, CLICK HERE.
(And if you’ve never been to Tumbler Ridge…GO THERE NOW! 🙂