Exciting news – we have successfully completed our digital project, #DontStopTheFlames! #DontStopTheFlames took place virtually and, where possible, in person. Featuring Flames from Scotland, Japan and New Zealand, Tricky Hat and The Flames were able to create a series of eight films, which have collectively been viewed over 3,000 times. Through #DontStopTheFlames, The Flames were able to share their real, raw experiences of life at the present moment.
Creating this series has been a totally new experience for Tricky Hat and The Flames. Not being able to perform to a live audience and, instead, moving into a digital space has been an exciting challenge for us.
In addition to learning lots of new lingo (we’ve all heard “R-number”, “social distancing” and “unprecedented times” more than enough times now though, haven’t we?), The Flames also used technology more than ever before for the creation of #DontStopTheFlames. Keep scrolling to find out how The Flames boosted their digital skills over lockdown, and the benefits this project has had on their wellbeing and confidence.
Many of The Flames raged against the digital world pre-Covid, but they have embraced the challenge and got stuck in. To keep The Flames connected, we set up a Facebook group for them. This provided a safe digital space for them to share ideas, chat about life and get to know one another better. Some Flames didn’t use Facebook until then, and this encouraged them to set up a profile. During the early stages of the pandemic, Facebook’s active users increased by a whopping 10%. It’s easy to understand why there has been such a surge. With many countries across the world banning in-person meetings, Facebook and other social media apps enable us to keep up-to-date with our loved ones.
Most of our workshops were held online via Zoom, which is another platform our Flames have become absolute pros at using. Zoom has fast become a household name. Work meetings, Friday night quizzes, job interviews… whatever your pandemic plans are, there’s a good chance Zoom is involved. The Flames have been taking part in group Zoom workshops, where they work together on tasks, catch-up with each other and learn new things.
A key part of #DontStopTheFlames also involved The Flames gathering footage for the films. This meant filming themselves! Many were used to being filmed but were not used to having to do it themselves. This has been totally new experience and a learning curve, but one that most have enjoyed.
“I loved learning more about filming, lighting, composition – all of that. I love self-filming, I’ve learned that I don’t need an audience.”
“I’ve pushed through some of my natural inclinations to hide away from cameras.”
Many Flames also had some reservations about performing to a digital audience – especially at first – as getting to grips with new technology can be quite overwhelming. Now, the vast majority of Flames feel much more confident with using technology, and two-thirds said it made them more confident about approaching new technologies.
“I learned how to present the reality of my past and my stories in a much more real way, a true way, rather than as a performance.”
“I learned to enjoy my computer more and got more relaxed about filming stuff.”
“It has taken away my fears of technical skills.”
Following on from sessions with Kim, some Flames started to make their own short films as practice. The work they have produced is to such a high standard that Tricky Hat plans to release them on their own as ‘Sparks.’ This is a testament to how much The Flames have grown and improved their digital skills over the past year.
In addition to boosting The Flames’ confidence with technology and their digital skills, #DontStopTheFlames has also helped to boost The Flames’ wellbeing. The regular Zoom workshops, being able to catch-up with Flames in Scotland and beyond, and having a creative outlet have all helped Flames to feel supported during such challenging times. 95% said that being a part of The Flames has improved their health and wellbeing.
“In a world of isolation, it’s great to see familiar faces.”
“The best thing about the project was meeting new Flames and re-meeting old Flames.”
“At the moment, it takes your mind off of this bloody virus.”
Taking Creative Risks
Tricky Hat worked hard to give Flames a focus by assigning several tasks for them to work on throughout the project. Some of these tasks were done as part of a group, and others were individual efforts. The Flames were also taught new creative skills that they can implement in their films and in future live performances by some brilliant guest artists over Zoom. In addition, The Flames felt empowered to take creative risks and try new things in their films.
“It’s a safe forum of creativity.”
“My favourite thing was the camaraderie and the inclusiveness.”
“When life at the moment is pretty predictable, safe and grey, it was great to take some risks and learn to be a bit braver.”
Lessons Learned from #DontStopTheFlames
We had an amazing time working on this digital collaboration with The Flames. Yes, there were challenges along the way (as you would expect when collaborating on a film series during a pandemic), but there were also many moments of innovation and joy. The Flames never fail to amaze us with their endless bounds of creativity and courage, and #DontStopTheFlames highlights just how brave and imaginative they are.
Working on #DontStopTheFlames throughout the Covid-19 outbreak has been a massive learning curve for us all. We’re delighted that The Flames feel more confident around new technology and that this project has been beneficial to their overall wellbeing. Working in new ways has also encouraged us to be more innovative and shown us how adaptable we can be. We are positive that, when we re-emerge into a world with no restrictions or distancing, we will have more strings added to our bow and will be prepared for any challenges thrown our way!
Huge thank you to PLAY ART! SENDAI for their involvement with this collaboration and for managing the project on the Japanese side. Without them, #DontStopTheFlames would not have been possible.
#DontStopTheFlames was supported by Creative Scotland and British Council, facilitated by the Scottish Government. #DontStopTheFlames was implemented by PLAY ART! SENDAI for the Sendai Cultural Programme 2020 and was co-sponsored by Sendai Cultural Foundation and Sendai City.