Lily Stevens and Johanna Wiklund are current Central Saint Martins (CSM), UAL students who have been actively involved in the creation of the new ‘Climate Emergency Interactive - an Introductory Video from UAL’, part of UAL's response to the climate emergency. The film has been live since the end of September and it’s already been shown multiple times to new and returning students as part of the Big Welcome, as well as by some course leaders in their start of term curriculum. It will also be shown at online screenings throughout the academic year.
Lily is studying BA (Hons) Fine Art, and is currently taking her Diploma in Professional Studies (DPS) year. Johanna has just started her third and final year on BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation.
Here Lily and Johanna look back at the filmmaking process and how they turned an idea into reality.
How it began
Since October 2019, we’ve been part of a staff and student team researching, writing and producing ‘Climate Emergency Interactive - an Introductory Video from UAL’. We wanted to create an interactive introductory video, a tool that would prompt students to reframe their creative practices within the context of the climate emergency and address the question; ‘How does UAL’s curriculum need to change in response to the climate emergency’?
Having secured some funding from UAL, we entered the production phase of the project. We wrote the script, filmed the speakers and produced the video, all within the context of lockdown. The process of scriptwriting was entirely collaborative, as we fleshed out a 4-part skeleton structure; editing, iterating and re-forming the text countless times. It was a crucial and difficult task of trying to find the right tone, a process of trying to retain complexity yet make sure that the content was accessible.
From those very first group meetings, we’d identified the need to design a flexible teaching tool, something that staff could insert into existing course modules. This is where the interactivity comes in. The video is not linear, instead, we ask questions throughout and pause for discussion and reflection. We hope that this format will allow for nuance between the various courses to organically emerge. UAL is multi-faceted and incredibly diverse, so to accommodate this we wanted to create something that carves space for others to speak and bring their own opinions and viewpoints throughout the experience.
Something else that was also important to us throughout the process was trying to make a video that was informative yet empowering. It felt crucial that the content was tailored towards UAL’s creative context. In the first half of the video, we unpack the basic facts around the climate and ecological emergency and take look at what climate justice looks like and means. In the second half, we move on to look at different forms of political action; it ends with a montage of creative work from UAL students, staff and alumni that represents a broad range of disciplines. We hope that through this, students can connect the climate emergency to their own creative agency.
For us, this project is important because it represents a small piece of the action. It embodies a collaborative, grassroots approach to making change. This of course must be given positive recognition; however, it also needs to be said that there is a lot more the university could and should be doing. This climate video offers a concrete example of how bottom-up initiatives can be realised in collaboration with the university. It is a model for action that we think should be replicated across colleges, a model for how staff and students can be supported to lead and realise ideas for change.
For that reason, we don’t see this project as finished. It is a pilot, that is being trialled and tested, and we are eager for feedback. It is the best we as a team could do within the limitations of COVID, and it is not perfect. In order to keep relevant, and the useful educational tool we always intended it to be, it will need to be ongoing, and open to future changes.
So, if your curious do look out for our monthly screenings throughout this academic year and please give us your feedback!
- Find out more about what UAL is doing in response to the climate emergency
- Sustainability at UAL
- Join the UAL Sustainability Alumni Network by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to hear more about UAL graduates creating and working in sustainable ways