Lessons in life skills from youngsters’ murder film

Chance 4 Change Film Club filming at The Haining, Selkirk. Jacob Martin of Les Ammis d' Onno dressed as a highwayman for the film.
Chance 4 Change Film Club filming at The Haining, Selkirk. Jacob Martin of Les Ammis d' Onno dressed as a highwayman for the film.

JEDBURGH will be the scene of a mass murder today and tomorrow.

For local teenagers will be hard at work creating a movie at the Spread Eagle Hotel in the town’s High Street.

The seven youngsters are in a film club created by Borders befriending charity Chance 4 Change to offer those about to leave school a chance to learn additional life skills.

Club members in Selkirk filmed a ghost drama at The Haining at the end of last month and the Hawick group filmed an armed robbery last Thursday and Friday.

Club co-ordinator Lisa Cowan said: “We’ve been on the go since August. The young people have come up with the ideas themselves and we have helped them to develop them.

“They’ve been learning about this, about film and film-making with the aim that they learn transferable life skills: they’ve had to come together as a team, build relationships and resolve conflict which helps raise aspirations and build a ‘can do’ attitude.”

Local businesses, the police and film-making youth project, Voice of My Own (VOMO) are supporting the work.

Ms Cowan continued: “VOMO have been a significant partner in all of this. It’s a real team of film making, professional youth workers and others. It’s a culmination of skills that has enabled this to happen. It’s an important piece of work.”

The Jedburgh group of Aimee Ferguson, Katie Marley, Melissa Chippendale, Ashleigh Watson, Sophie Hutchison, Ryan Crooks and Ross Oliver are shooting in the historic hotel, its outhouses and alley.

Ms Cowan said: “The group have shown real commitment to the project and have come up with some great ideas. They have worked as a team to come up with a cracking story.

“And The Spread Eagle Hotel have bent over backwards to accommodate the young people’s film shoot.”

Hawick’s group of Jordan Simpson, Ryan Stockman, Markale Hall, Rhys Thomas, Callum Cassidy and Jason Riach devised a gangster comedy which included a local police officer who volunteered to act in the piece.

Ms Cowan said: “Film Club has offered this group the chance to use their visualisation skills to great effect.”

The Palladian mansion of The Haining proved an ideal movie set for the Selkirk High School pupils Ashleigh Macrae, Sophie Grieve, Macaulley Hislop, Justin Deans, Emily Forbes and Liam Ramsay.

The youngsters worked with the Haining Trust, Scott’s Selkirk organisers and Jedburgh-based equestrian stunt group Les Amis d’Onno, which donated costumes to help set the scene for the action both in and outside the house during the two-day shoot.

Ms Cowan said: “The youngsters worked like true professional film-makers, despite the lashing rain and bitter cold.”

As to the success of the work overall, she said: “We have had young people who’ve said they don’t want it to end because they feel valued. Another said ‘I would never have stood up in front of people and done this before’.

“We have asked them whether they think they can transfer these skills and one said ‘I could use them at an interview’. We have helped them face fears.”

The Chance 4 Change charity is a Big Lottery-funded project and part of GYP Borders.