UWE Animation students help promote HIV awareness

Issue date: 02 June 2009

Image from Uh-oh Jimmy Students from the School of Creative Arts at the University of the West of England (UWE, Bristol) have been working with local and national health organisations to promote safe sex to young people.

Second year Animation student, Peter Kimball-Evans, recently won the Terence Higgins Trust's (THT) Lets Get Tested video competition with his film, 'Uh-oh Jimmy'. The short animation is a tongue in cheek take on old fashioned public information films and highlights the importance of good sexual health, when Jimmy unwittingly passes on an STI to his girlfriend after a one-night stand with another girl.
The film will be used as part of an online campaign.

Peter was announced as the competition winner at a reception at the House of Commons where he received his £2000 prize. He will also have the opportunity to work with a leading British director or producer on developing his film.

Peter said “I wanted to create a film that was informative but also fun. I've always loved old black and white educational films, and thought it would be the perfect way to create a light hearted film about the importance of looking after your sexual health.”

Chief Executive of THT, Sir Nick Partridge, explained that the campaign aims to change the perception amongst young people that getting a sexual health check is difficult, when it is in fact quick and easy. He said “Peter's film does this brilliantly and its message is simple: get tested, look after yourself.”

In a separate project, Peter was also one of a team of 13 second year Animation students who worked with South Gloucestershire Council, NHS South Gloucestershire and THT to create an animated film to promote the use of condoms to help reduce the spread of HIV.

South Gloucestershire Council approached Animation tutors at UWE for help, as they felt that the students could deliver a professional film that appealed to a young audience.

The students worked with council staff, the NHS and THT on the script for the film called 'Safer Txt', which was voiced by actor Rik Mayall, and pitched ideas back and forth until the concept was finalised and production could begin.

Mark Turpin, one of the students involved and the project co-ordinator, said, “The whole process has been an invaluable experience as I've had the opportunity to work in a professional context. All the students involved now have real industry experience of creating a production to a brief with real clients. I think we've all learnt a huge amount from it and will apply it to our production in the third year. Personally I now feel far better equipped to tackle working in the industry after I graduate.”

It is hoped that Safer Txt will be seen by young people across the UK and even abroad. A free DVD of the film is available to all local authorities and organisations that can make use of it and has been sent to health promotion experts in Holland.

Gill Sandford, Associate Dean of Enterprise and the Head of the Bristol School of Animation said: “Collaboration with partners is very important to us and we are very pleased to be able to work with a whole range of commercial and community-orientated organisations. The students really responded well to the challenges of both of these projects bringing their creative flair to help to communicate serious messages. They were able to relate very well to the target audience of young people and also developed their professional skills by working to specific client briefs.”

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