Day Three - Start of the OneMinutesJr workshop
The roads are blocked today in central Yerevan for the inauguration of the President. Nevertheless, 20 children have gathered at the Ani Plaza Hotel near the Opera Square at 9 o'clock in the morning to participate in a OneMinutesJr workshop. The OneMinutesJr have become "an institution" within UNICEF projects within the last five years. Since the first workshop in Budapest in early 2003, dozens of workshops have been held, training young people in video making and sharing their expectations, fears and wishes. While the first ever OneMinutesJr award winner also came from Armenia, this is the first time UNICEF organizes a OneMinutesJr workshop in Yerevan. The children aged 12 to 17 come from the capital city but also from the regions. Some are also experiences young filmmakers, others are taking their first steps in the multimedia world.
After a short welcoming session with introductions of trainers and participants, the lights are dimmed for a presentation of the best OneMinutesJr videos produced in recent years. This gives the children a flavour of what is possible in one minute, what kind of genres, special effects and sounds can used. And it puts them into the right mind-set for developing their own stories. The OneMinutesJr concept is all about active participation. Actually, it is more than that. The children are expected to take charge of everything they do and the trainers "sit back" and observe the process, giving advice and guidance whenever necessary. From the very beginning, the mission is clear: 20 children will produce 20 OneMinutesJr videos within five days. They choose the topics, they write the scripts, they film and edit their movies. Full ownership is therefore guaranteed and since the children also feel this from the start, they immediately open up and share their most personal ideas.
A first short brainstorming session is followed by individual discussions with the participants on their ideas for the workshop topic "Children in the 21st century". The trainers at this workshop are David Djinjikhashvili from Georgia (now living in the Netherlands), Gor Baghdasaryan from Armenia and Chris Schuepp from Germany. David is a veteran workshop trainer who was also at the very first workshop in 2003 and has trained children in more than 15 workshops around the world since then. He is a former student of the Sandberg Institute, a post-graduate arts school in Amsterdam and home of the One Minutes Foundation. Gor is 19 years old and from Yerevan and it was him who won the first ever OneMinutesJr award in 2003. He is a young adult now, ready to take responsibility and share his film-making experiencc. Chris Schuepp coordinates the Young People's Media Network in Europe & Central Asia for UNICEF and organized this workshop together with UNICEF Armenia and the Manana Youth Center.
David, Gor and Chris now welcome one participant after the other and listen to their ideas. Some ideas are still in the early stages, some others are already well developed and the filming could start right away.There are quite a few story ideas around the "clash of generations" in Armenia, especially when it comes to new technologies. Also, the overwhelming flood of information hitting children very early in their lives will be a topic of a film. Environmental issues and poverty are also mentioned by the participants. Tatevik, 15, presents here OneMinutesJr idea: "There is a boy in a toy store with his mother. He wants this toy, then that toy, then this toy, then that toy. His mother finally buys him the most expensive toy car and they leave the store. Another boy was looking at the scene through the shop window. When the rich boy comes out, he immediately tears off the box and throws it away. The poor boy picks up the box, takes it home, cuts out the image of the toy car and puts it up on the wall, next to tens of others."
Until the evening hours of this first OneMinutesJr workshop day in Armenia, the discussions continue and story-boards are being developed. Tomorrow morning, the first participants will go out with the trainers and shoot their films.
Yerevan - April 9, 2008 - Chris Schuepp