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British Exchange Student Jonathan Green Produces Award-winning Children’s Drama

Jonathan Green with his BAFTA award
Jonathan Green with his BAFTA award

Back in 2006, Jonathan Green came to Keene State from one of our partner institutions, York St. John University in England, to study film production. Going the extra mile (or, in this case, thousands of miles) definitely paid off, because he recently produced a film, Refugee that was voted Best Children’s Drama 2016 by the British Academy Children’s Awards (BAFTA). Refugee won over three other nominees, all of which were produced by the BBC.

Jonathan works for TrueTube, a company that makes educational films and offers them on their online platform. With each short film, TrueTube offers teacher notes and a lesson plan for school children aged between 5–16. Last year, the company’s website had 3.5 million views from across the globe.

Refugee takes a moving look at a crisis that’s currently a hot topic across Europe and the U.S. The film explores the confusion, fear, and desperation of a family fleeing a violent homeland, and is especially effective for the questions it raises but leaves unanswered. “By making a short film about a white-middle class family caught in war zone, we hoped to help western children empathise with people caught in the immigration crisis,” Jonathan explained. “Newspaper headlines and some politicians have vilified and dehumanized migrants, making it easier to ignore the problem, thus exacerbating the predicament of many families caught in horrible situations.”

The film taps into the creative, engaging storytelling and filmmaking skills Jonathan developed here at KSC. “When I studied at Keene State College, I was in classes with a small group of people, which allowed for in-depth conversation,” he said. “It was an open environment where the teachers encouraged you to ask questions. Working with Film faculty such as David Gonthier was a pleasure—he had tremendous insights about screenwriting, and he encouraged individual expression as we wrote scripts and discussed each other’s work in class.

“Not only was Ted White one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, but he also created a very friendly environment where we could learn all the facets of filmmaking. In his class I made a short film on a Bolex camera and learned about various lighting techniques. The limitations of shooting on 16mm taught me to think about the specificity of the shot.

“In addition to working with two wonderful teachers, the setting of Keene State College was beautiful; it made for a very sublime experience. The College staff were incredibly accommodating, and the surrounding area was perfectly picturesque.”

And his enthusiasm and talent certainly left an impression on his teachers. “Jonathan Green was always insightful and passionate about film. I am proud of his great accomplishments,” recalled David Gonthier.

“When he first showed up in my class all the way from the UK, I saw Jonathan Green was a fun, energetic, and motivated student,” said Ted White. “His recent BAFTA award is a really high honor. The film itself is creatively structured in reverse-chronological order and tells a powerful story about war, forced immigration, and being a refugee. When our students go on to do work that is artistic, courageous, and socially relevant, like Jonathan has done, it is just incredibly gratifying. He is such a sincere and good-hearted person, so I am thrilled for his success.”

Watch Refugee.