Create Not Hate was a personal passion project of Quiet Storm founder Trevor Robinson. Looking back at his own experiences growing up in Brixton, London, he had a vision to help inner-city kids who felt let down by society to see how their lives could have meaning beyond gang membership and the violence this brings.
In 2007 London was experiencing a wave of gun and knife deaths, including 16-year-old James Andre Smartt-Ford, 15-year-old Michael Dosunmu and 17-year-old Annaka Keniesha Pinto, all of whom died after being shot.
While the Government and police tried to tackle the issue, Robinson was thinking of what contribution could be made using his skills as a writer and director. At the heart of the problem is a lack of opportunity: communities where many young people weren’t being shown how much potential they have.
At the same time, a lot of the anti-violence communications were really out of touch and patronising. So Create Not Hate had a two-fold mission: to give young people creative opportunities at a professional standard, and to come up with messaging that resonated with the target audience – because it was made by that very audience.
Everyone has the potential to be creative – how can we give kids who don’t often get creative opportunities the chance to express themselves?
Avoiding the Big Brother feel of government campaigns, we went directly to schools with our own initiative: a short film competition called Create Not Hate, supported by mentoring from ad agency industry professionals and in-agency working sessions.
We teamed up with Lambeth Academy, a high school near where Trevor grew up in Brixton and close to where the teenager Billy Cox had been shot and killed in 2007.
Looking to unlock the inherent creativity of kids, we issued them a challenge and promise: show us how to get young people like you thinking differently about gang violence and we will get your idea made.
Initially, 100 pupils took part in a series of creative workshops, some of which took place at Lambeth Academy and others in offices. From these, the first script emerged: A Mother’s Tear, written by Jaron Williams and Alimur Rahman, two 15-year-olds with personal experience of the aftermath of gun crime – they had both known Billy Cox.
The young filmmaker Dennis Gyamfi took on co-directing duties with Trevor and students and pupils collaborated to shoot the script and edit the footage. The result was a powerful two-minute film devised by teenagers, created through collaboration and with incredible, professional production values.
As well as making the film available online, A Mother’s Tear was supported in cinemas by Pearl & Dean and on television by MTV.
Create Not Hate inspired numerous online conversations and saw a vast amount of interest from media, including the BBC and Sky News. Some of the students who’d been involved were interviewed and given the chance to tell their stories and talk about how positive the experience had been. In the end, we gained nearly £2m in earned media coverage.
That was all really nice, but the real success was the empowering effect on the hundreds of kids across London who became involved in the programme. For them, doors were opened into a world they might never otherwise have seen – and to the creative potential their lives have. Quiet Storm is still in touch with Dennis Gyamfi, and very pleased to see that Alimur Rahman, co-author of the script, has been awarded a degree with honours in broadcast media.