We’ve been working with our wonderful client Little Inventors for a couple of years now and we’ve been privileged to be a part of their growth and a vast array of exciting projects.  

Little Inventors is a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously!  They ask children to come up with fresh invention ideas, which they help bring to life by contacting local inventors, scientists, creators, artists, animators (and more!) to explore these ideas and turn them into reality for various exhibitions around the world.  

With challenges delivered across the UK, Canada, Europe and China, they’ve helped a huge number of children from around the world embrace their imagination and creativity and have brought over 300  ideas to life to date!  

Project background

Over 3,000 children aged 8-12 years old took part in Pioneers Energy Challenge workshops across the region, in schools, libraries and cultural venues from Berwick and Alnwick libraries and Woodhorn Museum, Ashington in the north, to the Museum of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough libraries and Darlington Hippodrome in the south.

Over 2000 invention ideas were uploaded to the Pioneers Energy Challenge and 15 ideas by children from Northumberland, Sunderland and Tees Valley were chosen to be made real by professional makers, designers, engineers, animators and artists from across the North East. 

How has Turps Film helped?

Having created various pieces of video content for Little Inventors including project overviews, challenges and case studies, they approached us this year with a challenge that took an unexpected turn due to COVID-19.  

This year Little Inventors launched their Pioneers Energy Challenge, giving the organisation the tough job of picking just 15 ideas out of over 2000 to be made a reality!

The 15 children who came up with these incredible ideas were invited to Preston Park Museum in Stockton-on-Tees where they learnt from Chief Inventor, Dominic Wilcox, about how to develop their designs even further and put some thought into how their ideas could be brought to life.  The plan was to then follow the children on their journey as their ideas evolve and document their interactions with the makers who would be bringing their ideas to life.  

This would have featured visits to workshops, animation studios and design agencies.  Finally, we would film the grand unveiling at an exhibition at Preston Park, where all of their ideas would be shared with the world. 

What Happened?

For the first day of filming, our brief was to create an overview of the day and select a couple of key comments from a few of the children. We popped along to document the day and were lucky enough to interview all 15 children so that we had a huge bank of footage and comments to work with. 

We were scheduled to film an interactive session at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland where the Pioneers would meet with their grown-up, qualified counterparts to discuss how they would bring each idea to life. But, as we all know now, the pandemic had other plans, and before this could take place, unfortunately, things had to be scaled back to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

With 15 children halfway through their invention journey, Little Inventors had to adapt to the challenge of continuing the project through to the prototyping stage without being able to hold a physical workshop.

How can you teach a load of children how to prototype without being in the same room as them?  Well, as Little Inventors discovered: you find a talented local artist and your favourite video production company and create a series of 12 tutorials to keep the project alive! 

Working with Little Inventors and Lottie Smith (local cardboard wizard), we set up a safe, socially-distanced shoot in Lottie’s awe-inspiring workshop.  We dressed the set, quickly re-watched 42 episodes of Art Attack, and coached our wonderful presenter through the process of creating some bite-size edutainment.  

These videos were sent out to a huge range of newly-housebound children across the world to encourage them to create something inspiring from things lying around their house (just things like paper and cardboard, not their mum’s fancy new necklace!). This approach took care of the prototyping stage and all of the kids were up to date.  

What next? 

The next part of the project involved the children meeting the makers who would be bringing their ideas to life, but by this point, we were in full lockdown in the UK so we couldn’t do a face to face meeting.  Welcome, Zoom!  The team at Turps Film oversaw 15 zoom sessions where we interviewed the children involved and their new inventor pals to see how they were going to tackle their project.

Helping Little Inventors to deliver their projects even in a pandemic - Turps Film

We took away around 17 hours of interview footage and spent weeks meticulously crafting 15 self-contained pieces to form part of the now virtual Little Inventors Pioneers Exhibition.  We gave every single child an opportunity to share their story and give us an insight into their creative minds.  

The result?

This approach highlights the role video production can play in keeping projects alive. Whilst we can no longer get together in person because of the changing rules of COVID-19 safeguarding, we can utilise safe filming techniques and other visual technology to ensure amazing schemes like the Little Inventors Pioneers challenge can still go ahead. And sure, it’s a successful project delivered and a happy client, but above all, we were so chuffed to be part of an initiative that helped and inspired children during a time that was very unsettling for them. 

The project illustrates the power of video and online content, showing what can be done to face unforeseen challenges face on. The show must go on, after all…

To bring things up to date, the online exhibition had a soft-launch on 9th July 2020 and there were many smiles and tears to be had. The exhibition was the culmination of weeks of work for both the children and their dedicated grown-up inventors and it was fantastic to see these ideas come to fruition. 

The finished exhibition is now online and can be seen here.

What did the client say?

We love working with Little Inventors and this most recent project was no exception, and it seems that they feel the same way about us, which is always nice, isn’t it! 

Little Inventors’ Creative Producer, Jill Bennison, kindly said:     

“Turps Film has always gone the extra mile to ensure we have a quality and engaging final product. During the lockdown, Luke went above and beyond to make sure we could capture those unique moments like first meetings when each child met the maker who was making their idea real, and the child’s reaction to seeing their idea brought to life. 

Through their flexibility and creativity, Turps Film helped us to keep our project alive and on track, ensuring the Pioneers children, their teachers, parents and classmates all felt part of the initiative during such challenging times”  

And what about the Pioneers?

Amelia said; “It feels great because I wouldn’t think that I’d get far.  I didn’t think it’d get properly made! I’m really happy.”
Ethan said; “It’s made me feel more positive and I didn’t even know I could be more positive.  This type of thing – children doing things that only adults normally do – it’s a once in a lifetime thing.  I can’t put it into words how happy and astonished I feel about it, it’s just incredible!”
Rowan said; “It’s just amazing that out of so many people, I got picked.  It’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me and it’s just amazing.  It was just a little idea that I’d jotted down and now it’s came to be an actual invention that actually works, it’s amazing. I’m going to keep making inventions and keep jotting them down to make them even better!”
And if they don’t warm your heart, then nothing will! Big thanks to the team at Little Inventors, the pioneers and to all who played a part in this project, we are so proud to be part of a good news story in relation to COVID-19, which we know there are very few of.
If you’re thinking of starting a new video production project and would like to chat, we’d love to hear from you. Head to our contact page for further info and to start the ball rolling.
We’ve also made our processes for dealing with COVID-19 safety clear in this post, to give peace of mind.