Tech Rehab, Ghost Visitors and Thieving: Stories from our film workshop with Diabetes Ireland

A group of young people plan their escape from tech rehab, a bully steals an insulin pen, a piano player sees something he shouldn’t at a party … Fourteen teenagers with diabetes let their imagination fly on a daylong film workshop with Diabetes Ireland last December, creating their own mini films and picking up lots of filmmaking skills along the way. We were delighted to partner with Diabetes Ireland for the first time on our community film project and to host the workshop in our home base of Westmeath, in the beautiful surrounds of Mount Druid.

It’s really nice to be able to say to other people,
‘I have a similar condition to you, let’s go make something.’
– Owen, 14


Ghostly Visitor: scene created during the morning film skills session

‘I could see the creativity really coming through’
The workshop was an opportunity for young people with diabetes aged 12 to 17 to experience a hands-on introduction to filmmaking, mentored by professional artists: operating equipment, developing story ideas, planning shots with storyboards, directing the action and improvising scenes. A lot of fun was had delving into the costumes and props box to create characters and dress sets.

The first thing that struck me was how they all worked well as a group, considering that many of them didn’t know each other beforehand. I thought it was fantastic. I could see the creativity really coming through. It was well constructed and well run, & I could see that they all benefited from it.
– Owen’s mum, a volunteer on the day


Camera operation with film mentor Ciaran O’Donnell 

‘I wanted to leave the ending ambiguous’  
Participants explored themes that related to their experiences as young people. Addiction to digital technologies took on a humorous tone in one of the shorts, with teenagers being packed off to Tech Rehab and stripped of their mobiles and tablets on the way in the door.


Filming ‘Tech Rehab’ with Vicky from Diabetes Ireland, lead artist Siobhan Clancy and film mentor Alan Williams 

Stealing and bullying were central to the plot of the other two shorts. Young people with Type 1 Diabetes usually require insulin injections on a daily basis and missing an injection can be extremely serious. In one of the film works, a girl has her insulin pen stolen by a local bully who thinks it’s a harmless joke.


Filming ‘EpiPen’ with film mentor Ciaran O’Donnell 

The final group’s film centred on a girl’s phone mysteriously vanishing at a party. The piano player knows who the culprit is but will he do the right thing? Owen, one of the participants in this group, said that he wanted to leave the ending ambiguous:  ‘I liked how much free reign we had. It was a great workshop and I would definitely do it again. It was great fun.


Filming ‘Paid to Play’

Who’s who in the crew
The film workshop was led by artist Siobhán Clancy with film mentors Róisín Loughrey, Ciaran O’Donnell and Alan Williams. The young people were supported by Vicky Doyle and Ashley Daly from Diabetes Ireland and volunteer Orlagh Petticrew. We gratefully acknowledge Gary McGivney Photography for his fantastic photos on the day.

Check out the short film works the young people made & all the action from the day here:

Funding Acknowledgements
The film workshop was produced by Helium Arts in partnership with Diabetes Ireland. The workshop was funded by Westmeath County Council Arts Office and the National Lottery through the HSE with support from Mount Druid Estate and Fagan’s Office Supplies. Many thanks to the following supporters: Frayne’s, Buckley’s SuperValu and Mullingar Cinema.

For information on Diabetes Ireland’s services visit www.diabetes.ie


That’s a wrap! Our fab young film crew 

About our community film project
Two Suitcases is Helium’s award-winning community film project for teenagers living with chronic and serious illnesses. Running since 2012, teenagers collaborate with professional filmmakers and artists to develop and make their own films. You can learn all about the project here: http://www.helium.ie/programmes/community-health-projec/two-suitcases-project/