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At Casual Academy, Hands-On Experience for Teens Yields Meaningful Results for Charities

Casual Academy provides professional, hands-on training for young filmmakers, illuminating the potential of brands big and small to make a measurable social impact within their industries.

The Casual Academy’s Mission

Breaking into the hyper-competitive media industry is difficult regardless of one’s circumstances, but young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have an especially challenging road ahead of them. We’re doing our part to level the playing field with The Casual Academy.

Since 2012, the Academy has given 18-25 year olds from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of professional media through hands-on training from experienced filmmakers. These mentors walk their students through each step of the process: creative, production, direction, and post-production. Casual Films has designed the program to provide the sort of real industry experience that even high-profile, elite internships in New York or London seldom match. That means using real briefs from real clients to develop an understanding of how a project goes from inception to the screen.

An active participant in Responsible Business Week, Casual Films is committed to community-building work. In keeping with that tradition, the Casual Academy’s program centers on promotional work for local charities. At the end of each cycle, the charities receive the students’ films free of charge.

Over the past year, Casual Academy students have been busy working on two notable video campaigns: one in the US, and one in the UK. Read on for the highlights (and to view the final product) of each of these unique projects.

Back on My Feet

In the US, Casual Academy partnered with Back on My Feet — a national nonprofit that serves individuals currently experiencing homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless.

This video introduces us to members of Back on My Feet: Team Times Square. By committing to running three mornings a week, volunteers and participants alike help to create a supportive team atmosphere that is often critically lacking for those affected by homelessness, incarceration or drug abuse.

Back on My Feet also offers job training with the Next Steps program. After 30 days of Back on My Feet participation, team members who achieve 90% attendance are eligible for educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals and housing resources.

With team members like 64-year-old Alexander — who went from walking with a cane to becoming a first time (but not last time!) marathoner — Back on My Feet participants, in the words of Team Times Square’s Kenley, are clearly “on the path to something positive.”

The same spirit exists for the Casual Academy students featured here — despite a little freezing rain…

Beating Bowel Cancer

While Back on My Feet’s Casual Academy film tugged at our heartstrings from the back of a bicycle rig, students went for the funny bone when introducing Beating Bowel Cancer, a UK support and campaigning charity dedicated to those affected by the disease.

Beating Bowel Cancer strives to “bring people with bowel cancer together to share experiences and create a powerful voice for change” — so Elspeth Massey, the organisation’s Head of Communications, was thrilled when Casual Academy got involved. “Video is a really great way to beat the taboo,” she said.

Casual Films’ staff members were likewise impressed with their students’ take on the subject. Their efforts resulted in a video entitled “Listen to Your Gut,” featuring “talking tummies and tackling a difficult subject in a really human way,” as Casual Films Creative Ella Tomlin-Kedge puts it.

The students, for their part, relished the opportunity to learn more about filmmaking and production firsthand. They also gained a value lesson in the potential for film to impact lives, and the part that film companies can play in making a positive impact on their communities.

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