Film student Samuel Mansell tells us about narrative film The Blueprint Scrapbook documenting Oxford youth engagement project

22 Jun 2021

We caught up with SAE Oxford Film student Samuel Mansell to learn more about his documentary, The Blueprint Scrapbook, a narrative film that provides insight into the work of youth engagement project ‘The Blueprint Project’.

What is The Blueprint Project? 

The Blueprint Project is an Oxford-based youth project designed to engage young men aged between 12 and 16 at risk of exploitation from gang crime; with topics like criminality and race through the vessel of music production.

What is The Blueprint Scrapbook

The Blueprint Scrapbook is a documentary film commissioned by a number of Oxford-based organizations providing an insight into 'The Blueprint Project'; it features in-depth discussions about racism and racial identity to raw, talented performances during rehearsals. The film places the viewer in session with these disadvantaged young men and an array of experienced artists, musicians and youth workers to learn from... The Blueprint Scrapbook is a fragmented yet cohesive journey through an incredible story of youth work and music. 

How did the documentary come into being? 

Initially I came on board with the project to capture footage for social media use, but when I witnessed a constant stream of spontaneous strokes of genius and talent, I realised that people needed to see the whole picture of Blueprint. In liaison with Oxford (England) based community support groups Ark-T Centre, SAFE and Step Out as well as the Thames Valley Police Force and Oxford City Council, I was commissioned to produce a documentary about the groundbreaking youth work being carried out by 'The Blueprint Project'.

What roles did you have in the production of the documentary? 

The film was entirely produced, directed, filmed and edited by myself! 

How did the documentary draw on the skills that you’ve learned over the course of your time at SAE so far?  

Although I already had a vast amount of experience with the one camera I shot the film on, SAE lecturing and the knowledge I gained there helped me to really understand how to structure a film from start to finish, how to involve pre-production planning to ascertain exactly what order of events things are done in and how to look at the editing process in a time effective way. Without the SAE knowledge I wouldn't have been able to structure the film in such a coherent way which is what I think was one of its main successes!

Was there anyone else involved? 

As I shot, directed, and edited it I had most of the creative control over the film. With the help of community support project SAFE, Ark-T Centre, Step Out and Oxford City Councils Youth Ambition Team and funding from Thames Valley Police and Oxford City Council I was able to produce the film and really do the youth project justice. The team on The Blueprint Project were amazingly helpful and a solid group of lads! The work they were doing on that project was mad inspiring.

Can you tell us a bit about the different stages in the process – how long did it take to create the documentary? 

Wow… It was the longest creative process of my life. I would estimate with planning, filming and editing time I took around 250-300 hours on it. I loved every second of it but I definitely know how I can save time for future projects.

What reaction has the documentary had? 

We received national coverage on the BBC South Today News and various BBC Radio stations across the country. Generally in the youth work world it went down a treat too, and because of the young people's work during Black History Month we also found some of the Black Lives Matter organisations expressing their support so that was really rewarding for the young people too!

What’s next for The Blueprint Project? 

The Blueprint Project's second cohort is underway and the team and young people are going full steam ahead to produce some more amazing music and discuss some more important but difficult topics.

Are you working on any other projects that you’d like to tell us about? 

As an all round creative I haven't yet managed to pin myself down in any one medium as of yet. As a result of which, en route I have a string of other documentary films but also a few other bits and pieces including a children's picture book that I have written and illustrated that I am talking to publishers about, and a spoken word piece that has been commissioned by the BBC which will be out by the end of the year. 

What’s next for Sam after SAE - what are your longterm career goals and how do you plan to realise them? 

I really see myself keeping on the documentary front. The freedom of being creative while also letting my nerdy side come out and feature in my work is brilliant! I guess once I've finished at SAE I can really focus on distribution and funding to see my films in bigger places.

Where can people stay up-to-date with your work? 

The best place to find me is on the socials. My videography company is called @dawmedia which you can find on Facebook and Instagram or you can get at me on my personal page @sidemansell where you can find some of my other creative work as well as film bits and pieces.

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