Breaking the Frame: Interactive Film Drama

What would you do if you were among the poorest in 19th century England? What if you were being exploited and lacked the right to legally protest or vote? Would you steal? Would you join an unlawful gang? Would you engage in criminal damage? In this film you will face such dilemmas and make the choices which will ultimately dictate the fate of a young man.

Transforming 21st century Voyeurs into Active Participants

This unique interactive educational film was created primarily to enhance visits to the Framework Knitters Museum by transforming visitors from 21st century voyeurs into active participants in the historic drama of the period. The museum is the primary location used in the film. As a visitor attraction this unique heritage site uses a variety theatrical tools to bring the environment to life and this film is the final stage of the educational visitor tour. A visit to the museum will inform visitors about the hardship of the period and the reasons for this. Watching the film will then enable them to use this newly acquired knowledge to face historic dilemmas themselves. The aim is to use film to provide viewers with a greater degree of participation and engagement and to use our heritage to challenge the viewer’s preconceptions.

You Create the Story

The film’s storyline is constructed by the viewers themselves. At the end of each scene (each one lasting only a few minutes) the viewers are presented with a menu from which they must make a decision. This decision summons the chosen scene option, which shows the consequences of that decision. In this way the viewers determine the course of the story and the ultimate fate of the main character, Ben. The DVD version of the film uses a sub-menu to access the different scenes, whilst the online version utilises hidden hyperlinks embedded into the film itself which when clicked upon by the viewer selects the next clip from a library. Please note, the online version does not currently work with touch screen tablet devices as it requires a cursor to select the hyperlink.

Contemporary Relevance

An important element aspect of the story line is its contemporary relevance. The young Framework Knitters, Ben, must confront (with the assistance of the viewers) issues which may lead to him joining a gang, engaging in criminal damage, stealing or reporting his friends to the authorities. A key objective of this film was to use our historic story to confront contemporary issues. Our aim has been to create an entertaining device through which school groups can confront current issues within a non-judgmental framework. The process has also been influenced by the changes to the National Curriculum, specifically the History syllabus and a desire to broaden the appeal of the museum by incorporating Citizenship and the issues of social and moral awareness.

Debate and Democracy

In a group setting such as with a school the engagement process becomes one focused upon debate, in which pupils argue their point and try to sway opinion. Following the discussion there is a vote, from which a majority decision will dictate the direction the drama takes. In this instance the group engage in a democratic process which was denied to the characters in the film.

Crime Reduction

We are currently exploring the possibility of this film being used with young people who have been identified as being at risk of offending. Of particular relevance is the ending of the film; after which viewers are invited to reflect upon the consequence of their decisions and how, given the chance, they might wish they had made other choices. In this way we hope it will become a tool for charities working in crime reduction.

A FREE Resource Created in Partnership

The film was created with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nottinghamshire County Council and was filmed in partnership with pupils from a local school who contributed to the script writing process and as actors.  Given the unique educational opportunities this film offers the museum has made this available free of charge to all users via its website and You Tube Channel. In addition to this the museum is also offering a variety of free resources to support the film, which can be downloaded from the museum website.

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