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"What would happen if we shot a film in 3 weeks?": A PTC volunteer story.

Part 1 of Niamh's story: Niamh describes her volunteering experience with Pass the Crayon in which she helps host a film-making workshop for the kids at the Pankow refugee shelter.

Pass the Crayon brings together art lovers, experts, novices and curious minds from all over the world to share their enthusiasm for creativity with refugee children and teenagers who have recently arrived in Berlin.

Via the creative process, Pass The Crayon helps to nurture a sense of creative curiosity, emotional articulation and self-expression- all important and often undervalued forms of developmental learning.

Pass the Crayon currently hosts art workshops at three different refugee shelters in Berlin, providing their young audience with a creative outlet and a chance to learn new skills; from lino-cutting and cartoon storyboarding, to our latest venture… shooting a film!


It’s a crisp autumnal Saturday afternoon and the quiet streets of North Berlin are rustling with the movement of feet through chestnut leaves and the chatter of a motley crew of volunteers getting ready to get creative. It’s the weekly Pass the Crayon workshop in Pankow, and the second in a three part series on film making.

Last week the group plotted out their storyboards, with little narratives arising from the prompt: “Was wäre wenn..?” (What would happen if..?)

Responses ranged from, ‘what would happen if I could fly?’, ‘what would happen if the sun exploded?’ to, ‘what would happen if a ninja kidnapped me in Netto and then my friend tripped him up using the water from a mop bucket and the police came and for some reason there was also a cute puppy involved?’.

As is often the case with inquisitive and imaginative minds, the session produced some wonderful, albeit wacky ideas.


This week, it’s time to take the stories from paper and put them in front of the camera-no mean feat with a class of around 30, and 4 cameras! We split into groups, collecting our stories and delving into the costume box. Cue almost 30 little faces wearing tiny little stick-on moustaches of all shapes and colours- regardless of what role is being acted out, the moustaches are a solid hit.

In an unlikely yet welcome turn of events, a hurricane in the Azores blew unseasonably warm winds our way that day, so we leave the confines of the classroom and take our young film crew outdoors!

My little group is taking the Hanzel & Gretel story and giving it a positive twist. In this ten-minute tale, three siblings set out for a Spaziergang in the woods and end up losing their sister who goes off looking for better network signal on her mobile phone (an ingenious millennial twist) leaving her brothers to aimlessly search for her.

Cut to the next scene, one whole year later, and the two 11-year-olds switch from black fake moustaches to grey fake moustaches (attention to detail is everything). They stumble upon two other kids who seem to live in the woods, and have a lead on their sister’s whereabouts.

It turns out that their sister has been camping with the other two in a tree house full of sweets and other goodies the whole time! The boys are pretty delighted and celebrate the grand finale by dancing to Despacito, played from the same mobile phone that created all the issues in the first place. A typically chaotic and cheerful project at Pass the Crayon!

We watch and review the footage and then hand it over to our in-house director, who will spend the next week editing and turning our amateur productions into something pretty cool. Can’t wait to see the finished results at next week’s home grown kino session- stay tuned!

** For more photos and videos from our Pankow movie-making classes, check out our Instagram page :)

*** Nimah's article is also available on the Vostel blog platform- take a look!

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