An independent film director who has travelled around the world documenting the refugee crisis is learning essential skills at the Google Digital Garage in Sheffield to help raise further awareness of the cause.
Sheffield-based Lucas Jedrzejak is well-known within the independent film industry. For the last 12 years, he has worked on projects covering a vast array of topics, from directing early music videos for the likes of Def Leppard to getting unprecedented access to boxer Ricky Hatton at the height of his fame.
A recent project has seen him travelling to over 30 countries, covering the refugee crisis and putting together a documentary where he is helping bring music and education to refugee children without access to schools.
Yet despite being an award-winning director with work regularly showcased on the film festival circuit, Polish-born Mr Jedrzejak still struggles to raise awareness of the projects to people outside the industry.
When a friend told him about the new Google Digital Garage opening in the centre of the city, he was keen to go along and find out how he could set up a new website and take control of the content he produces and actively promotes.
He attended a course on how to build a website and grow his presence online and intends to launch this to help promote the new documentary, Ketermaya, which tells the story of a group of Syrian children living in a refugee camp in Lebanon – and details how Lucas raised money to buy them a piano from Beirut.
He said: “In today’s day and age, getting a film funded and distributed is extremely difficult, not just because commissioning editors are notoriously particular but because the market is becoming increasingly competitive.
“To get noticed, filmmakers usually start with a festival circuit where the most prestigious festivals pick a handful of films and the other 80 per cent get rejected. A festival tour normally takes at least two years of promoting your film around the world, which is time-consuming and costs a lot of money.
“The only other option is to create a huge online presence that is backed up by social media. To do this efficiently you have to understand SEO [search engine optimisation] and analytics and it’s easy to get lost. For those reasons the Google Digital Garage in Sheffield is a wonderful place to start boosting your skills.”
Google’s Digital Garage initiative is part of a multi-million pound investment offering everyone in the UK five free hours of digital training and is part of the Government’s digital strategy, which aims to boost digital skills training in the UK by 2020.
May King Tsang, trainer at Digital Garage Sheffield, said: “Whether you’re a successful film director like Lucas, who is trying to get his work noticed by bigger audiences, or simply someone looking to find help in setting up an email address, the Digital Garage can help.
“We’ve helped those who have never switched a computer on to others looking to learn the basics in coding. It doesn’t matter your age, background or job, everyone should be able to make the most of the internet and we’re thrilled Lucas is learning how to get such important issues even more visible online.”