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The animated film was created by learners at HMP Humber.

The animated film was created by learners at HMP Humber.

HMP Humber prisoners learn digital skills for inspiring film festival showcase

13 June 2023

Manchester International Crime and Justice Film Festival partnership boosts prisoners’ employability.

An inspiring animated film created by learners at His Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Humber has been screened as part of Manchester Met’s annual Manchester International Crime and Justice Film Festival.

The ten-minute film responds to a brief from the Festival team, asking HMP Humber Prisoners to explore the theme of public and private space in prisons, and involved them learning brand new digital skills to write, produce and edit the specially commissioned work.

Time and Space incorporates elements of live action video plus 2D and 3D animation, telling the story of characters in prison, which are anonymously voiced by staff, prisoners and actors. Inspired by the experiences of real prison learners finding self-improvement through digital coding workshops, the film provides a glimpse into the lives of people who work and volunteer in prisons.

It is the brainchild of the learners of prison education provider Novus and prison coding workshop Code 4000, and was screened as part of the Manchester International Crime and Justice Film Festival, Manchester Met’s annual showcase of films which provoke debate and provide an alternative take on crime, justice and punishment in the 21st century.

In the film animated prisoner characters are seen learning at the HMP Humber coding workshop, developing digital content and explaining how the facility has helped their mental health and enabled them to learn new skills that will equip them for the future.

Reader in Community Justice at Manchester Met’s Policy and Evaluation Unit (PERU) and co-director of the Festival, Kevin Wong, said: “Our brief to the Novus learners at HMP Humber was to create a film on the topic of ‘a space of my own’, and they’ve certainly delivered.

“The film is as inspiring as it is impressive, especially given that many of the learners had never engaged with digital media before starting the coding workshops. The result is testament to their dedication and commitment, and shows how learning these skills can be a positive focus, creating future opportunities in the world of work.”

Speaking of his experience working on the film, one HMP Humber learner said: “This has given me an insight into how films and TV are created and inspired me to think about possible future employment opportunities within different sectors of the tech industry.”

Another learner added: “Over a period of around six weeks I’ve been improving my understanding every day. Each character animation I’ve created shows in the film how I’ve improved, having no previous knowledge of these techniques.”

As part of the free public Festival, which has been running throughout May and into June online and at 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, Novus learners at HMP and Young Offender Institute (YOI) Thorn Cross were invited to select a film to be screened.

As part of their Functional Skills English class, learners selected action film Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks, which prompted debate and discussion within the class on loss of freedom and control, with Novus staff attending the screening to explain how the learners made their selection.

Sarah Hartley, National Lead for Creative Strategies at Novus, added: “It has been brilliant to be part of Manchester Met’s film festival, and the opportunity has allowed us to enrich different curriculum areas, from the links to our literacy curriculum at HMP Thorn Cross to the opportunity for learners at HMP Humber to work on a live design brief and create a film.

“Both projects have enabled our learners to see different opportunities and perspectives, and the HMP Humber project in particular has given the learners direct skills that they could use in the workplace on release, which is vital to help reduce reoffending.”

Watch HMP Humber learners’ film Time and Space here.