Using video clips

If a picture paints a thousand words, then a film says so much more...

Introduction
Making your own video clip
Professional film companies
Short film for Be My Parent online
Feedback from families and agencies on video clips
An example of a professionally made film clip

Introduction

Films and video clips are increasingly being used to help find permanent families for children in care and this highlights the potential of multimedia when family-finding. Seeing the child in a range of settings and activities, and interacting with carers can really communicate the essence of the child and bring him or her to life on screen, which can encourage enquiries from potential families. It can also be really valuable to hear the foster carer (usually as a voiceover) speak about the child, their development, and how they manage any specific medical needs such as physiotherapy or a nasogastric tube.

cover of Seeing the Difference reportResults from BAAF’s video research project, funded by BBC Children in Need, Marsh Ltd and The Dorus Trust, have found that 83 per cent of those who viewed video clips on the Be My Parent website – whether potential adopters and permanent foster carers or social workers – found them “very useful”. In addition, 96 per cent of social workers involved in the project said they would use film clips again in future. Read about the outcomes of the project.

Films can be particularly useful for children who are difficult to place or have complex health conditions, and can be used for a multitude of purposes, including on Be My Parent online, in profiling meetings, introductions, adoption exchange days and life story work.

Agencies can choose to produce films themselves, or they can use either of the two film companies mentioned below.

Making your own video clip

BAAF, in collaboration with Glocal Films Ltd, has produced a training DVD to help practictioners and foster carers feel more at ease behind a camera when filming children. This is available online. Watch the whole training film here (55 minutes), or watch the part that is relevant to you:

basic camera training
recording good sound
safety and confidentiality
engaging the children
interviewing the foster carer
dos and don'ts
what next: editing or not

You can also have a look at our guidelines.

Professional film companies

Many professional film companies now offer their services to local authorities with filming children specifically for the purpose of family-finding. Each film-maker brings its own individual style, as well as expertise, in making short films which can offer a lively, child-friendly and heartwarming introduction to a child.

It's worth checking who is available in your area, perhaps asking neighbouring local authorities who they use and would recommend.

Once the film has been commissioned, the film-makers will arrange to visit the child’s foster carer and social worker, usually at the foster carer’s home. They will talk about the child’s personality and characteristics, and brief the foster carer on the filming process.

They will film the children in various settings and doing various activities, engaging the children as much as possible. The foster carer will often also be interviewed about the child’s likes, dislikes, development, attachments and medical needs, so this can be included in the clip, either as part of the film with images, or as a voiceover only.

The film company will then edit the film footage and add an appropriate soundtrack, usually including music and voiceovers. Depending on your requirements, several version of the clip can be created: for instance a shorter version for Be My Parent, and a longer one that can be used for introductions.

Short film for Be My Parent online

For the purpose of our website, please note that we require the clips to be around 3 to 5 minutes for a single child, and up to 7 minutes for a sibling group. Please see our video clip guidelines (447 KB) for more information

Feedback from families and agencies on professionally made video clips

Families

“I think using the video clips is a very powerful tool as pictures can only say so much. It helps you imagine what it would be like to care for the child and the needs that they have. I think that using more video clips of the children would help them to be adopted quicker.”

“Video clips enable you to see a child in a normal day to day environment albeit a few minutes, which I think gives a better idea of a child’s general behaviour, rather than just the photos and written profile.”

“I was planning on enquiring anyway, but it made me think "Yes this is definitely a child that I want!" Very well made film.”

“Seeing these video clips was what confirmed for us we were looking at the right children. The concerns and thoughts we had after reading profiles were dispelled and confirmed, giving us a better and more realistic opinion of how we would cope with the children. We thought the prompting of the children to reveal more of themselves was excellent - words weren't put into their mouths; despite the presence of a camera we felt we saw the true side to [the] children. We have made many enquiries, through our social worker, based on solely the written profile but for these [children] being able to see them in action really made the difference…”

Agencies

“The film crew were friendly and professional and were great at engaging Charlotte in the filming. I definitely feel that it played a big part in securing a permanent family for her.”
Social worker of a ten-year-old girl

“I was delighted with the DVD and have used it to help potential carers to experience Harley without meeting him…. the film-makers worked brilliantly with Harley. Captured his view of the world and what it is like to be with Harley: sound of his voice, how he moves around and what he plays with.”
Social worker of a six-year-old boy with cerebral palsy

"I believe this is a service that must be allowed to develop and where possible the more people involved, including or especially the children, to share in the experience the better. If we can demonstrate to the children how positive the family finding process can be by allowing their involvement as much as possible, then maybe it will go some way to reassuring them life is not all bad and they are not bad".
Social worker of a two-year-old boy

All children’s names have been changed

An example of a professionally made film clip

Last updated: 17 September 14

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