Teens' drug and drink film under fire

AN OUTRAGED deputy mayor last night criticised a film depicting school children drinking and taking drugs - claiming it promoted breaking the law.

Dave Gooderham

AN OUTRAGED deputy mayor last night criticised a film depicting school children drinking and taking drugs - claiming it promoted breaking the law.

Teenagers taking part in a filmmaking workshop were given a free rein on their subject choice and chose to have fellow youngsters act out scenes of drinking and drug taking as well as scenes of theft.

Project leaders defended the film, saying it was a way of highlighting serious issues affecting the young, but the graphic images left one councillor close to walking out of a recent screening.

Sudbury deputy mayor, John Sayers, said: “I thought the subject matter was terrible and it sent out the wrong message. It depicted things children shouldn't do - like pilfering from shops, taking drugs and drinking alcohol. It was all the things we are trying to get out of society and all the things police are trying to stamp out.

“I was taken aback to be honest as I don't think these things should be highlighted and I know others felt the same. Film making is an activity that should be promoted in schools. But the content was of a sensitive nature and the images left nothing to the imagination.”

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More than a dozen teenagers from Sudbury and Great Cornard upper schools took part in a six-week filmmaking workshop, run by Cornard-based Offshoot Films. Some of the scenes included youngsters acting out thefts from shops, taking drugs at home and drinking alcohol.

Paul Press, who runs the company, said he wanted to allow young participants to choose their own topics and encouraged them to pick issues that affected their lives.

He explained: “I don't believe this promotes any kind of behaviour and personally I don't think these issues should be hidden. The young people chose these topics and they wanted to show off their films to the public. I personally wouldn't have made a couple of the films but that is what the youngsters wanted to do and I wanted to give them free rein. I think the films raise awareness and tackle issues to a certain extent.”

Mr Press started the company three years ago and has since worked with schools across the county in a bid to give youngsters a chance to learn about film making.

He added: “We allow the youngsters to use professional equipment and film and edit everything themselves. We find they enjoy the work and it is very beneficial for them. We had heard concern that some of the films shouldn't have been made but we have also had mountains of positive feedback.”

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