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The Teens' Speech


On Christmas Day this year, teenage Britain delivered its own message to the nation. Find out more

The Teens' Speech

And here it is. The final film. Please watch it and if you like it, pass it on to friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, everybody.

Reading the comments that followed the publication of an article on The Teens' Speech in The Guardian, it appears that, as a society, we still have a long way to go in the way we treat our young.

The Teens' Speech was predicated on the belief that if we gave young people an avenue to express themselves, they would reward us with a genuine insight into a section of society that is, as one contributor in the film states, a 'taboo'.

And so they did.

Actually, they were already doing it - on YouTube, mainly. We just cut a rip in the curtain and had a peek inside.

This is the day

After 4 months of activity, featuring hundreds of interviews with teenagers from across the United Kingdom and a truly ground-breaking campaign of engagement with young people online, The Teens' Speech is finally ready.

Brooding, atmospheric and powerful, The Teens’ Speech is a documentary film that seeks give a voice to the most vulnerable members of society while providing the rest of us a glimpse of our country's future through their eyes.

It also features a unique collaboration with acclaimed spoken word artist, Kate Tempest, who has contributed a passionate, lyrical poem based on the interview transcripts of every young person involved in the making of the film.

The Teens' Speech will be broadcast today, at 3.15pm on the home page of MySpace and then later on YouTube, as part of an unprecedented partnership with both social networks. It's the culmination of The Teens' Speech project and hopefully the beginning of something else.

Making The Teens' Speech film (Part II)

Scott, aka Debaserxx

Last week, the team assembled on a clear, bright saturday morning in Clerkenwell, London, for our third day of shooting interviews for the Teens' Speech film.

Our filming team is made up of the director, Virginia, the cameraman, Will, sound engineer, Steven, studio manager, Candy (yes, Candy), project manager Claire, social outreach manager, Ollie and myself.

I feel like the film is in the very capable hands of our director, but at the same time I need to be sure that we're doing everything we can to deliver the film we promised.

A big part of this is ensuring our webcam contributors are included in the Teens' Speech documentary. Today we have some young people who, after uploading videos to our YouTube channel, were invited to appear in the film.

One of them, Scott (aka Debaserxx), is late. Public transport in London is in chaos as many tube lines are down for maintenance. It's been an endless kick in the teeth to weekend commuters in London and it doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon.

Anyway, our man is caught up in it. The clock is ticking, the bright sky has given way to a luminous rainswept twilight and with 5 or 6 interviews already in the bag, this is pushing our schedule back beyond our agreed wrap time of 7pm.

He finally turns up. Quiet, nervous, friendly. We usher him onto our 'set' - a small, extremely well lit black box, with a small flourescent green plastic chair positioned in the middle. I like the look of it there, illuminated by the professional lights. Its simplicity and mundanity has a kind of power to it and the muffled silence of the room lends it a confessional quality.

Our director, Viriginia, talks Scott through the process while Steven sorts out the sound; she'll ask some questions, he needs to look directly into the camera and maintain eye contact after every question to help us in the edit. He acknowledges this and nervously laughs to himself.

He's in a black box, looking directly at a camera, surrounded by three strangers and about to be asked some rather penetrating questions. Why wouldn't he be nervous? I'd be nervous.

And so the camera rolls and the questions start.

Obviously, I'll give nothing away here, but what I will tell you, what I'm happy to tell you is that something quite extraordinary and powerful happened during that interview. I felt like I was in the presence of the purest kind of unadulterated, heartfelt honesty. It was a humbling experience and I felt an enormous sense of privilege being in that room with Scott.

I guess on Christmas Day,when the film goes out on Myspace we all have the chance to be sit in that room and experience something quite special. I hope so.

Making The Teens' Speech film

Latifah, 15

Adelphi Studios, Sunday, November 15th, 2009. We're in Manchester, home of Morrissey, The Happy Mondays, New Order, numerous Greggs bakeries, two of the richest football clubs on the planet and 8 teenagers about to be interviewed for The Teens' Speech film.

To see all our production shots of the shoot in Manchester, visit The Teens' Speech Facebook page. If you want to be part of The Teens' Speech, then visit YouTube or MySpace and tell us what's on your mind.

Introducing Kate Tempest

As part of the Teens' Speech film which is premièring on MySpace On Christmas Day, we'll be collaborating with the young and gifted slam-poet, Kate Tempest.

This is what fellow spoken-word artist, Scroobius Pip, had to say about her:

“I had [Kate] Tempest in several times on my BBC radio one spoken word show and she has been the highlight of my listening this year. She has no right whatsoever to be as good as she is. It astounds me. Her writing is epic, her delivery piercing, and with the addition of her band Sound of Rum her potential is realised. Inspirational.”

Kate will be working with documentary director, Virginia Quinn, to create unique sequences of poetry in the film, using transcripts from interviews and webcam contributions as her source material.

Interviews with teenagers and audio montages of webcam contributions will be interspersed with Tempest's raw, honest and inspirational poetry.

We hope the end product will be something very special for everyone who has taken part in The Teens' Speech as well as being a unique document of teenagers' opinions, hopes and aspirations - both for themselves and for the U.K.