You take the cinema to them.
I had this problem the other day. I'd been volunteering at London's Kids Company, making music videos with some of the older kids at the Urban Academy. They were smart, bright, funny, full of ideas, excited. We shot a video in the derelict estate at Elephant and Castle. We called ourselves the Dead Rappers Society. We had a big meal at Nando's. It was a blast.
Then we wanted to make our own song - a version of London's Burning with young kids singing the round and older kids rapping over it, a bit like Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life. So, after lengthy permissions and all that, we went down to shoot some of the younger kids singing at the other Kid's Company centre in Camberwell.
Then boom - everything changed. Chatting to the kids and the amazing staff who work there, about what the filming we we were doing, we found out that some of them had never been to the cinema, a cinema, any cinema. We decided to change that. We needed to put them in front of a cinema screen.
Now, these kids are - rightly - very closely supervised, and the thought of organising an actual trip to a cinema seemed, well, impossible. So - together with the amazing people at Kid's Company - we built a temporary cinema in their centre. The kids had seen posters for All Stars, which was out at the time and it seemed like a good choice as lots of it was shot in South London.
Four of us got to work. To start with, we blacked out their gym with drapes. We gaffer taped a lighting reflector to the wall to work as a screen. We plugged a projector into a laptop and the laptop into a giant carnival style sound system. Man it was loud.
And then everything got even louder as the kids piled in after their day at school. The guys at the centre made some popcorn and it round in plastic cups from a water dispenser. As the lights dimmed, minds blew. My eardrums pretty much blew at the volume. Kids were staring up at the big, wonky screen, just transfixed, as the Rizzle Kicks boomed out and John Barrowman tap danced. Not - thankfully - at the same time. That would be a challenge even for Barrowman.
The kids loved it.
It was, in a way, pure cinema. Akai and Theo Stevenson came down afterwards and a mini riot ensued for autographs and crazy, crazy questions. Akai's dad Rico acted as crowd control.
It was so far removed from the industry of film yet it was also the complete essence of the industry of film - at the young end anyways - delivering absolute happiness. It really was amazing. I've got some shots of it on my twitter feed @bengregor.
Check it out. And if you know any kids - take them to a cinema. The cinema still rules. It's still special. And if you know of kids who can't get to the cinema, take the cinema to them.
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