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Viewfinder report

Beacon films skills tap crew

EVALUATING: Viewfinder

Spirit of 2012 awarded £120,000 for the three-year Viewfinder programme, a talent development initiative supporting filmmakers with disabilities, autism and additional needs.

Delivered by the award-winning Beacon Films CIC (formerly Beacon Hill Arts) in Tyneside, Viewfinder was the first BFI Film Academy in the UK to focus on supporting filmmakers with a disability. 

Viewfinder participants attended a regular programme of Filmmaking Surgeries to develop their talents in specific production areas, and showcase their abilities by making short films.  

The sessions also allowed budding filmmakers to improve their skills in masterclasses from industry professionals, and to include families and friends in their films.

Viewfinder artists have received over 70 international festival selections, won 11 nominations and 14 awards. The project was also supported by £4,900 of match funding from Sir James Knott Trust.

To read more about the Viewfinder programme, click here.


We asked Beacon Films' Development Director Will Sadler to introduce the final Viewfinder report. He tells us:

1. This evaluation shows that…

Viewfinder supported 47 people – of whom 45 considered themselves to have a disability – to develop their filmmaking skills and confidence. It enabled them to develop these talents through 72 creative workshops and then offer their skills to their local community through vocational filmmaking projects in partnership with external organisations. Through this, participants provided 1562 hours of 'professional-grade' volunteering time to produce 11 films that were seen by a minimum of 15,543 people. 94 per-cent of audiences 'strongly agreed' with the statement that 'films made by Beacon Films increase awareness in communities of the potential of disabled people'. Through baseline questionnaires and case studies, the report found that the project improved the wellbeing of over three-quarters of participants and that between 68 and 91 per-cent of participants believed the project developed identified volunteering skills. 

2. The thing I’m proudest about in this evaluation is…

Our willingness to learn and find ways for the evaluation processes developed to benefit all our work – not just our work funded by Spirit of 2012. As a result, we developed a 'logic chain' for the whole organisation, to provide clarity about where each project sat – and what role it played towards – our mission, as well as to identify 'gaps' to guide further bids and funding applications. 

3. The thing I would do differently if we did this project again is…

I feel there is an irony that the more independent a participant becomes, the harder it is to record any impact! Therefore it'd be good to establish ways to more easily identify and chart 'life-changing' effects of the project, both so that this impact can be recorded but also so we can learn of ways to improve long-term effects for participants.

4. An interesting fact in this evaluation is...

68% of filmmakers who took part in the workshops to develop creative skills opted to progress onto a vocational film volunteering placement. That's a 'conversion rate' we are proud of!

5. The thing I still wish we could understand more is…  whether people 'feeling' closer to the labour market or self-assessing that their creative and vocational skills have improved is the same as actually being closer to the labour market and independent evidence proving the improvement of those skills.

Further information

Spirit of 2012 extended its funding at the start of 2019, awarding a further £99,000 for a 'Viewfinder Plus' programme. You can read more about this here