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Creative VoicesTeenage Superhero Workshop

Artist Emma Eager facilitated a half-day film workshop with writer Ben Murnane for teenagers living with chronic illness at the Digital Hub in June. Building on the theme of the teenage superhero, the teenagers took part in a collaborative writing session, developed a short film script and filmed the results. The inspiration for the teenage superhero theme came from two sources: Ben, who has Fanconi anaemia, wrote in his memoir, Two in a Million, of how, when he was younger, he used to imagine himself as a superhero living inside the Sugarloaf Mountain to escape the realities of his illness. Emma was also inspired by the original Spiderman comic series in which high school student Peter Parker battles evil in New York City as his alter-ego Spiderman and also faces everyday trials that teenagers go through. Attendant themes of rebellion, transition, independence, responsibility, isolation, and dreams informed the development of the workshop.

The teenagers took part in an initial brainstorming detective game where they first took on the roles of witnesses at a crime scene and then played classmates of the superhero. Leading on from this brainstorming session, they developed a superhero story and a one-page script was typed up in screenplay format. The participants looked at examples of storyboards, including photo storyboards made with the ComicBook! app. They practiced framing and blocking shots, filming the scene on iPhones, experimenting with the Super8 film app, and interviewing each other with the iRig mic. Emma has made a film for the teenagers, turning the script and footage from the day into storyboards, a graphic novel sequence, and short film scenes. Sadie Carney composed witness sketches to complement the audio recording of the teenagers as they created the superhero story.

Emma has been funded by the Arts Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme 2012 managed by Create – the national development agency for collaborative arts. Creative Voices is produced by Helium in association with the Digital Hub Development Agency. This project is kindly supported by Children in Hospital Ireland and patient support groups. Emma and Ben would like to thank the teenagers who took part for the inspired ideas they brought to the day and their imaginative reworking of the superhero theme .