Sharp Shotz was established in 2007 by IDEAL with a team of 5 young people from St Pauls (the Sharp Shotz Team) and a youth worker, George Francis — in partnership with the UWE’s Animation Department and Aardman Animations. The competition element of the project was focused on young people developing ideas for short animations which formed their entries to the competition. At the finals day, judged by experts in the field, two winning teams were chosen who would work with animation students at UWE on the production of the films. The campaigns culminate in an event at the Watershed with relevant guests being invited that can help the two winning teams bring about the change they are seeking.

In 2013 the competition was redeveloped to include documentary film as well as animation, bringing UWE’s Film Department and 3rd year students into the partnership. The idea behind this move was to increase the involvement of the winning teams in the production process of their film ideas — and to allow Film and Animation students to work together on the production of the short films. The combination of animation and documentary has created really powerful films and increased the learning opportunities for all involved.

In 2015, we have taken the development of Sharp Shotz to its next stage in partnership with UWE, BBC Bristol, our sponsor North Somerset Community Partnership, and two schools: Fairfield High School in Bristol and Broadoak College in Weston Super Mare. The 2015/16 competition has challenged young people to develop an idea for a campaign built around a film that increases awareness and brings change to an issue that is important to them.

Sharp Shotz provides UWE Animation and Film students with the opportunity to put into practice what they have been learning — in a manner which works to embed this learning — as they have to guide young people around 12-13 years old with little or no experience of filmmaking through the whole process of turning an idea into a film. Added to this is the fact they have to work as a unit so they can help create a film that blends the two disciplines to the greatest effect. In addition to this experience the project offers those UWE students who engage with it the opportunity of a 2 week work placement at BBC Bristol.

“My point of view with association and opportunities such as Sharp Shotz is that it is great to enhance the experience of our students. They can participate in collaboration, realising a project that performs a function beyond their studies. For all concerned this project provides some great learning through practice. The message is a good one”

John Parry, Senior Lecturer, University of the West of England