Making Conversations Easier – The Film

Ceri has been working alongside staff at Barnwood Trust on a number of projects and we recently had the opportunity to see her latest animation on the big screen projector at the office.

For this animation, Ceri worked with her friend Mel, whose relationship developed out of the ‘Conversations that Include Everyone’ workshops. It was created at the request of Barnwood Trust in order to support the communication trainers in delivering their workshops. Mel took responsibility for the script and Ceri the animation. Here Ceri explains why the project is so important, how animation lends itself and what she hopes people can learn from it. Mel shares some insights into the process of working together to create a film like this.

Ceri: Communication difficulties can lead to a person being misunderstood and isolated and having a loss of control in certain situations in society. It doesn’t have to be this way. I would like to introduce two short animated films suggesting ways of how to make conversations easier when talking to someone with a communication difficulty.  The films were written by Mel Adams, Speech and Language Therapist and animated and produced by myself, Ceri Longville.

Communication difficulties can be caused by many things. It may be because a person has trouble understanding what other people say, or finding the words for the things they want to say, or they may have difficulty with speech itself. The reasons for this can vary and include having a stroke, being born with a disability or having a speech impairment such as a stammer.

People learn best when they are involved and engaged, so in the context of the Barnwood workshop “Conversations that include everyone” the opportunity to hear stories from trainers with communication difficulties who are willing to share their experiences is invaluable and irreplaceable.

The aim of the animations is to give additional insights by using some invented scenarios that may arise in everyday life.

Animations, or ‘cartoons’, can be a great vehicle for training for a number of reasons and ​I really enjoy creating them​. Cartoons have less detail than real life and are designed to entertain. They may take the viewer back to their childhood Cartoon TV leisure time. This can thus induce a relaxed state of learning which helps the information to be absorbed and stored more effectively than, for example, reading an information sheet.

Animation can also make use of attention-grabbing elements.  In these animations, the element which I think gives a whole new dimension has been the use of thought bubbles, giving an empathetic insight into how it feels when you cannot express your thoughts verbally or understand others very easily.

The animations illustrate issues from the point of view of the person themselves and give tips on how you can make conversations easier.

Please wa​tch, learn, and enjoy!

Mel, who also worked on the project, has been working with Barnwood Trust for some time, had been commissioned to get this training project off the ground. Mel has also offered her insight on the process of working together to create a film like this.

Mel: Ceri and I have been friends for a few years now, and I was looking forward to doing a project together…. The project turned out to be quite a voyage of discovery in ways I hadn’t predicted. It was hard with me never having been involved in animation work before and therefore not understanding the process, and Ceri and I hit a bit of a brick wall with it quite early on.

We had to work really hard on our own communication skills (both in terms of expressing ourselves and also listening carefully) before we were able to move forwards in creating something that would help illustrate communication difficulties to other people. It also helped to deepen my understanding of the issues, thanks to Ceri’s inputs to the dialogue, for which I am very grateful. I can’t wait to do the next one!

Communication between Ceri and myself works best if it is to face-to-face, but due to the geographical distance between us we had to rely on written communication (phone calls are not an effective means of communication for us). It soon became apparent that if we didn’t read each other’s emails really carefully, and express ourselves very precisely in our own, we often didn’t pay full attention to what the other was saying or misunderstood what was written, which created frustration, with the need for rewording and resending messages until we realised that we both had to be more mindful of this.

I also remember that we came at the project from different angles – me from the perspective of a ‘clinician’, wanting to explain about the mechanisms of communication and how to avoid/repair communication breakdown, and Ceri from the perspective of wanting to raise people’s awareness of the issues for the person themselves and maybe not wanting to be too explicit about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of communication difficulties, out of respect. It took a wee while to meet somewhere in the middle and acknowledge that it would be OK to try and encompass it all.

Learning is at the heart of what we do at Barnwood. As we discover new and effective ways of bringing people closer together we believe it’s really important that we share that learning with you. Take a look at our learning pages for more information.