From Lebanon to South Africa, Freya Billington’s passion for film-making is inspiring young people in troubled communities around the world.

The Course Leader in Film Production at the University of Gloucestershire has led workshops in the refugee camps of Tyre, Lebanon, last November and in South Africa’s Finetown township this April.

Freya as been developing and running film workshops with The Creative Arts Schools Trust (CAST) since 2010. Founded by actor David Morrissey, the trust makes creativity accessible for all young people and teachers, particularly in conflict damaged or displaced communities.

Working with local education criteria it creates workshops that seek to find the gaps in both techniques and resources, helping to fill them with exciting and inspirational projects for young people. It also enables local teachers to integrate creative learning into their teaching practice without disrupting their timetables and can be adapted for both mainstream and special needs classes, with the aim that they then initiate their own creative projects.

Fundraising with Film Production students since she returned, has now raised enough money to buy and donate a camera for future CAST projects.

Freya said: “After working on a project for children at the Royal Opera House with the Designer/Director and CEO of CAST Emma Wee, she asked me to create a film making workshop to run alongside the drama, music and dance projects that had already been taken to Lebanon. Over five days the students make a range of films from self-portraits to more complex stories, are responsible for generating the ideas, then, film the projects themselves. While their work is screened to them during the week it is also shown to friends, family and members of their community as part of a show on the final day.”

Having worked with the Johannesburg-based cinematographer Dean Hibbert on the last project, Freya is planning to return to collaborate on a documentary about a township-based drama group they worked with.

Freya added: “Since Dean is also a part-time lecturer at AFDA, The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance, we are also looking at ways to extend connections between the Film Production course and the Cinematography department he teaches in, starting with shared Skype lectures and hopefully extending to student exchange projects at some point in the future.”

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Source: University of Gloucestershire