I’d been teaching media studies at the University of Brighton for about 10 years when I came across Digital Storytelling through the ‘Silver Stories’ project which Mark Dunford and Isobel Creed were running. Digital Stories are short engaging films made by everyday people in collaborative workshops where they are given the support and tools necessary to produce their own compelling stories. Visually, digital stories consist of photographs and drawings, with the occasional short piece of video. Edited together with an audio recorded script, sound effects and music, digital stories can be surprisingly moving for a short film form. The script writing process is fundamental to the form and whatever the inspiration, be it an object, a personal or shared experience, a conversation, or a long lost photograph, the key is an engaging story that connects emotionally both for the story creator and the audience.
On a bright March afternoon back in 2013 at the Silver Stories symposium, the contributors spoke of working with elderly people across Europe and the different ways that the project was working with DST, from identity work to oral history. For example, one of the partners, Patient Voices, use DST with medical staff and patients to promote empathy in hospitals. I became inspired to use DST with my undergraduates because I wanted to give my students a chance not only to study amateur media but to have a go themselves. It was also an opportunity to explore DST as a kind of transition tool for students, an opportunity for them to reflect on their own identity work as they stepped into HE. I’ve been running DST modules with my students now for three years and have just started another variant, ‘Storying the Self’, for our creative writing students.
Digital Storytelling is not only film form and a workshop process. It is also a movement. There are opportunities to collaborate with many others who have a shared interest in promoting storytelling. So since those early days I’ve had the chance to work with a range of people and organisations both locally and internationally: ‘Moving Stories’, a collaboration with a local secondary school working with migrant children; ‘Story Abroad’, an international project which employed DST as a way for young people to reflect on their experiences travelling abroad. More recently I’ve been involved in ‘Hidden Voices’, a collaboration with Zap Art and Sussex Prisoners Families. We are exhibiting stories from that project on May 13th in this year’s Brighton Fringe. Stories from all these projects are available to view on their websites.
Now with ‘Reading on Screen’ I have the opportunity to be involved in stories of reading and to see what new inspirations will come about through working with others on DST.