Create Studios achieved a major award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, to explore and celebrate a unique archive of letters from Swindon’s First World War POWs. Led by Gurch Singh the project enabled 60 young people from Dorcan Academy, the Oakfield Project and Create’s MassMedia group, to explore the archive of POW letters housed at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and then create a variety of media productions in response. The 100 Stories project culminated in a public touring exhibition, which reached over 25,000 people. A new 100Stories website was also launched.
Create's talent development group, MassMedia, created five short films inspired by the First World War. One of these films focused on the story of Mary Slade, who eventually received an MBE for her work mobilising the town’s community to respond to the POWs’ need. The young people wrote scripts, filmed and edited the films themselves, working with mentors Gurch Singh and Sherylee Houssein. The Oakfield Project visited Ypres, Belgium to visit the battlefields where the Create team supported them to film a documentary about their experiences.
Dorcan spent a week out of their school term working on this project with a focus on creative and documentary photography. The group ranged from photography novices to students who were already learning elements within their media course. The week was spent researching local history, looking through old paper cuttings and studying books that were full of WW1 photography. The group then learnt about photography theory which covered composition, mis-en scene, the subject matter, colour grading and looking at the work of past and present photographers. The students were then exposed to the 100 stories collection and chose a story that meant something personal to them; a story they could visually explore and capture with a single image. The prep then started for the shoot where the students were able to choose their models, costume and location. The students then worked with a professional photographer and art directed their own image. In post-production they were able to play with the colour tones and further create a deeper meaning in their work. Dorcan students have taken a moment in Swindon’s war history and created a sensitive and stimulating portrait of the people of this town.
The 100 Stories project culminated in a public touring exhibition around Swindon and Wiltshire, opening at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in November 2015. A dedicated new 100Stories website was also launched housing all the films created by MassMedia, the documentary by Oakfield Project and the images captured by Dorcan Academy as well as the 100 Stories blog, documenting the timeline of events that took place during the project.