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First Light

Short films made by young people aged 5-19

Main image of First Light

First Light was established in 2001 with the aim of giving young people, between the ages of five and 19, opportunities to write, act, shoot, produce and edit their own short films, both fiction and non-fiction.

Since its inception, the Birmingham-based charity has helped to fund around 20,000 young people in collaborating on over 1000 film projects, ranging from short horror movies to animated documentary. The charity also hosts the annual First Light Awards, with categories for different age groups and genres.

Established in the early days of the 'digital revolution', First Light arrived as filmmaking became a genuinely more accessible process and has grown over a decade when the amount of video content being created and distributed online has exponentially increased. However, the charity was also formed at a time when there was a growing awareness of the importance of media literacy and the need to provide young people with support in not only creating their own films, but appreciating moving image culture in general. By partnering young people with professional filmmakers, the movies made with First Light underpin genuinely fresh ideas with high production values.

The films themselves offer an insight into the diverse ideas and preoccupations of young people today. There have been 'campaigning' documentaries, such as the lively Living Statistic (2006) which charts, over five years, a local community's campaign to keep a popular Weymouth based family from being deported as well as Darkness Visible (2007), which offers a rare glimpse into the lives of young people dealing with mental illness.

Other films focus more on technical innovation and First Light funding has contributed to producing a particularly strong collection of animated shorts. Dangerous Relations (2003), which mixes animation, green-screening and live-action, is just one example of how common narratives - in this case a tale of a feuding brother and sister - can be re-imagined in new and creative ways. Meanwhile films such as the The Princess and the Pendant (2006), Light's Out (2007) and The Island (2009) demonstrate how varied animated techniques, from stop-frame to silhouette animation, can be used effectively with children as young as five.

With backing from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the UK Film Council, First Light is, along with the BFI, part of a wider partnership to promote media literacy in the UK through the strategy: Film: 21st Century Literacy .

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Dangerous Relations (2003)Dangerous Relations (2003)

A teenage girl's love life is ruined by her younger brother.

Thumbnail image of Darkness Visible (2006)Darkness Visible (2006)

The personal worlds of young people and their mental health issues

Thumbnail image of Living Statistic (2006)Living Statistic (2006)

A community campaigns to prevent a local family's deportation from the UK.

Thumbnail image of Not Cricket (2007)Not Cricket (2007)

A father teaches the subtle art of cricket, and learns something in return.

Thumbnail image of This Was Forever (2007)This Was Forever (2007)

An snapshot of life on Manor Garden allotments in East London.

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