Our journey back to the First World War has been unexpectedly eventful. When we embarked on this project, we had no idea we’d run into a pandemic and lockdown. All our face-to-face workshops were abruptly stopped and planned trips to museums and archives had to be shelved.
The parallels with the war, not to mention the 1918 flu pandemic, weren’t lost on us. The mental health of young people has been of great concern, with their education and exams up in the air. Friendships and families were under great strain, with young people trying to cope with not seeing enough of one group, and perhaps seeing too much of the other.
Our whole project switched to one that would be developed and delivered online. We met for workshops on Video conference calls, used WhatsApp and email to catch up and organise events and recorded interviews using our experience of making our lockdown radio series, Raising Teens.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of the students who have been involved in this project, of their enthusiasm, intelligence and ability to get involved and have a go. They’ve got involved with interviewing, recording, writing and presenting pieces for the podcast – all done remotely. Their work has been outstanding.
And a huge thank you has to go to the team at the Heritage Fund – firstly for funding our project – but also for their ongoing encouragement and helping us get to the finish line by moving our deadlines owing to Covid-19-related delays.
That thanks also extends to everyone who contributes to the National Lottery.
Our final task for We Are Poppy was to create images for this website and for publicity on social media. We mustered our Make (Good) Trouble team, headed up by Lola, 19, taking on the role of Production Assistant and Stylist, and Lotti, 19, our Photographer.
We wanted to illustrate the conversation between the eras in photographs and chose an outdoor location (adding umbrellas to the kit list!). Stanmer Park in Brighton has a beautiful old church and graveyard and provided the perfect backdrop. Lola had two of our models, Amelie and Evie, in First World War costume, and three 21st Century models, Grace, Tiana and Lola, in bright colours – jumpers, jackets, trainers, nail varnish – that give a real pop to the images.
Lotti said, “In the photographs, I wanted to challenge the viewer’s response by intertwining the two eras, creating images that make you question when they were taken and making sure we captured the personalities of the girls and the relationship between the 21st Century girl and her First World War counterpart.”
The images are to be used here on this website and on social media posts to promote the project. We took into account the fact that may want to use copy on the images, or captions if they were used on audio posts like the one below.
Video and sound editor, Alvy Vincent, writes about helping to create the sounds of the 21st Century and the First World War to give us an immersive, rich listening experience for our Dear Poppy podcast.
I am a 22 year old freelance film maker who usually edits with visuals. One of the things I have learnt over the years is that SFX can really glue a video together and they are so important when setting a scene. When working on the ‘Poppy Project’ I absolutely loved making the audio soundscapes.
I loved the creativeness of listening to someone speak, imagining the settings that they would be in and then layering lots of SFX (sound effects) to create a world that the person speaking could sit in. This project was especially interesting as it focused around a specific time period. This meant that I was forced to think about what noises you might hear at that time. I used a lot of old aircraft soaring overhead and air raid sirens screeching but I also liked the SFX that are more generic but still created a soundscape that felt old fashioned, so I used things like church bells ringing in the distance, horses hooves on cobbled streets, dogs barking, wind blowing in the trees.
For the hospital scene [listen to the audio below], I was looking for the hospital sounds but my sound effects library was all modern-day sounds with phones going off and stuff.
I searched for the sound of a trolley in a hospital, a trolley passing, and that worked quite well. It wasn’t completely clear what it was, but it made you realise that it was inside a hospital. When the nurse starts speaking about the hospital ward, I wanted to have a sound for the injured men, so I recorded myself making groaning sounds and put it in the background. It seems ridiculous but it actually works really well, you hear the faint, quite subtle, not too obvious, sound in the background.
I look forward to working on more projects like this in the future.