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About Us

Calling the Shots

CTS is all about widening participation and helping people express themselves through creative media.

Our story began in 1998 with Stray, a film about the trials and tribulations of homeless teenagers. The film, made in partnership with Bread Youth Project in St Paul’s, Bristol set the tone.

Since then we’ve worked with hundreds of organisations, from the smallest, like local family charity Together For Short Lives, to some of the biggest, like Channel 4 and Honda UK.

We have the same approach whoever we work with. We offer clear communication, a strong sense of collaboration and scale-able services to fit the brand and project. Our extensive network of partners from across all sectors really benefits organisations trying to reach new audiences.

Our Process

Sometimes it can be really hard to engage meaningfully with particular communities and ‘hard to reach’ demographics. Creative media such as film, photography and music can really help break down barriers and give people not only a voice but also skills they can develop over a lifetime.

We have recently helped the University of Bristol engage successfully with eight different community groups as varied as single parents and Afro-Caribbean musicians as part of a million pound AHRC funded project. We helped Channel 4 connect with over 1000 16-25 year olds through our 4Talent work-related learning days, and we’re currently up-skilling 16-25 year olds and commissioning 72 short films for Arts Council England and Channel 4 through their Random Acts TV arts strand.

We have developed skills and capacity in communities and organisations throughout the South-West and nationally.

Our Journey

Stray (1998)

One of our very first projects, and still one we are particularly proud of, ‘Stray’, shot on super 16, was made for Encounters Festival’s Film in the Community project. We worked with Bread Youth Project to create a powerful drama that explored some of the groups’ experiences of being homeless.

Curzon Film Crew (1999)

CTS worked with the Curzon Cinema and the Barn Youth Centre in Clevedon to support a team of young newsreel producers, producing a monthly newsreel for the cinema about young people’s concerns in the town. The team also produced short adverts for local businesses.

Romeo and Juliet at the Meriton (2000)

The Meriton, an off-site school support unit, helps young parents to continue their education. CTS delivered a week of drama workshops, set and prop-making and filming to enable the group to produce a modern re-working of Shakespeare’s classic love story.

First Light (2001)

Working in partnership with Somerset Film and Video, we produced eight short films in the inaugural round of the UK Film Council’s First Light scheme. First Light set out to partner groups of young people with professional filmmakers. Looking back at the films now, they represent an amazing insight into the lives of young people at the turn of the millennium.

First Byte (2002)

Two short dramas created by emerging filmmakers and one of our first forays into what we now think of as ‘Talent Development’. One of the films, ‘Red’, offers a modern take on the Red Riding Hood story in an impressively shot package.

Mini Masterpieces (2003)

Funded by the BBC, Mini Masterpieces 2003 established a long-standing partnership with Encounters Festival, setting out to offer new filmmaking talent a first experience of working with a professional producer. In various guises, it’s a model that led to the creation of over 40 short films, launching the careers of a significant cohort of filmmakers.

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Our Lives with Horses (2004)

Commissioned by Bristol Natural History Consortium, CTS supported a group of eight young Roma travelers to make a film that explores traveler culture and the community’s relationship with horses.

Streaming Stories (2005)

Working in partnership with Cre8 in Swindon, CTS devised this innovative online community of local people, supporting them to create short films and photograph and write about their lives. Over a hundred residents of Swindon, from groups that included the Caribbean Pensioners Lunch Club, young people in care and a mental health survivors group, shared their experiences of living in the city.

BBC3 New Film Maker Awards (2006)

This competitive scheme, run by BBC3 and with a first prize of £3000, attracted some of the best young directing and acting talent in the UK. One of the films, ‘Say Sorry’, directed by Camille Griffin, starred actress Heike Makatsch, who later that year appeared in Love Actually.

Severn Stories (2007)

CTS emphasised their ability to scale production and switch genre with this 7 x 30′ series for ITV West. Presented by One Show regular, Marty Jopson, the programmes took viewers on a Coast-like journey along the longest river in the UK. Think history, nature and people and you get the picture.

Digital Shorts, Hilary Flamingo (2008)

This colourful short film explored one young woman’s imaginary world, and was directed by (and starred) Harriet Fleuriot, who won the Audience Award at Encounters Festival.

Full House International Exchange Project (2009)

This youth exchange filmmaking project saw 15 young people from Bristol work alongside 15 from Hanover in Germany and 15 from Posnan in Poland over two years to devise, write and shoot a drama about youth migration.

Arnos Vale Heritage Centre (2010)

Initially commissioned to make three exhibition films, this project developed into being a further suite of ten films for web and DVD distribution. CTS delivered films that included a re-enactment of a Victorian funeral and aerial filming to showcase this remarkable Victorian monument.

Second Light (2011)

A two-year project that supported 11 young people from Bristol’s BME communities to develop a career in the media. Five trainees went on to work in the industry or entered full time education. Trainees worked as a team to create five short films and undertook a variety of industry work-placements.

The Future Cemetery (2012)

Building on the relationship developed with Arnos Vale in 2010 and now in partnership with the University of Bath’s Centre for Death and Dying, the Future Cemetery consortium has gone on develop a series of innovative mobile apps to help visitors explore the cemetery.

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Robert Hart (2013)

A 30 minute documentary for the University of Bristol exploring the forgotten history of Britain’s role in supporting the Imperial Court in Peking in the early 1900s at a time when most foreign interests were treated with great suspicion. Filmed in Shanghai and across the UK, this film explores this turbulent period.

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BFI Animation Camp (2014)

This national camp, for 30 young people aged 16-19, is part of the BFI’s Film Academy programme which gives young people a chance to develop skills for further study or for a career in film.

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Random Acts (2015)

In partnership with the Arts Council and Channel 4, CTS will produce 72 films directed by young people aged 16-24 over the next three years.

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New Creatives (2019)

A new training and development scheme in partnership with BBC Arts and Arts Council England; over two years we will be producing 60 audio works, 38 short films and 4 interactive works by young people aged 16-30 for BBC Platforms.

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