A theatre company, which made a hit film about bullying, is hoping to repeat the success with a sequel thanks to funding from the Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex.
The London Bus Theatre Company works with youngsters from across South of Essex involving them in drama clubs and film projects. The group aims to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve life skills amongst those youngsters potentially at risk by involving them in acting.
In 2014 The London Bus Theatre Company made the Angels vs Bullies feature film with 300 teenagers from South Essex. The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex (OPCC) provided £4,620 in funding to help both make the film and fund screenings at cinemas in the south of the county.
After a further successful bid to the OPCC, the London Bus Theatre Company has been given a further £7,290 to fund screenings of the film in North Essex and help the company film a sequel.
Filming for the sequel, which does not yet have a name, has already begun at the James Hornsby school in Laindon.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Being involved in drama is a fantastic way for these talented young people to learn not only acting skills, which could provide them with a future career, but also how to work with a team and build their confidence. It is very rewarding for me to be able to provide funding for such worthwhile community projects. Youngsters involved in this project may otherwise have found themselves engaging in anti-social behaviour or worse. However instead they have been involved in making a film about bullying, which is an issue that causes such distress and harm to their peers. Their efforts in raising awareness about bullying among young people through the film are thoroughly commendable.”
The London Bus Theatre Company was established around 15 years ago and is primarily funded by the Big Lottery fund. It has nine members of staff and around 30 volunteers. The group holds monthly drama workshops alongside ongoing film projects and youngsters who get involved are given the opportunity to receive a qualification counting towards UCAS points.
One teenager, a 17-year-old from Canvey who was involved with the London Bus Theatre Company, has already gone on to success and is now employed at ITN news.
Ella, 15 from Canvey, who recently joined the company is looking forward to being part of the sequel. She said: “It has made me gain a lot of confidence and I feel I can now go to auditions without being nervous. I have made new friendships which will last a very long time. We are all treated the same as the directors, producers and other youths.”
Peter May, a borough councillor in Castle Point who has been involved with the projects, said: “The projects offer more than just film skills but also skills in photography, directing, hair, fashion and make-up, offering opportunities to youths to help full fill their ambition.”
Kathy Austen, administrator and co-ordinator at the London Bus Theatre Company, said: “The last five years have been incredible and the company has expanded involving more youths than in previous years thanks to the PCC funding. The funding has not only added financial value to the projects but has added extra value to the expansion and progression of projects.”
The money was awarded to the London Bus Theatre Company under the PCC’s New Initiatives Fund (now known as the Community Safety Development Fund), which is money made available by the Police and Crime Commissioner to community safety, voluntary and community groups to fund projects to prevent and tackle crime and anti-social behaviour
To find out more about the PCC’s Community Safety Development Fund please visit http://www.essex.pfcc.police.uk/income-and-expenditure/new-initiatives-fund.
If your enquiry relates to operational policing or a crime please contact Essex Police here