A TEENAGER who found herself at a loss when her A level exams were cancelled has made a documentary exploring what it is like to live during the Covid-19 global pandemic.

The day Emma Gray found out schools were closing and exams were off, due to coronavirus, she asked teachers at Hermitage Academy, in Chester-le-Street, if she could borrow a video camera to record how life in lockdown would unfold.

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The 17-year-old, from Chester-le-Street, said: “I have always wanted to make a documentary and with everything going on this felt like a good time, I wanted to record these unprecedented times and reflect how people are feeling.

“I made sure I grabbed a camera from school on the last day and fortunately I have supportive parents, friends and family who have agreed to be interviewed on Skype or zoom.

“It has been really interesting to see how it is affecting people in lots of different ways, from my dad working at home to friends who had exams cancelled.

“People’s lives are affected differently but they all express different aspects of what I’m feeling.”

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The film – Coronavirus: Life in Lockdown – shows how interviewees have faced different challenges from home working and cancelled exams, musical live streams and homemade gyms.

She filmed and edited the documentary within the restrictions of lockdown, interviewing people in her household and on video calls.

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It ends with a reading of a letter from a teacher in China, who shares a message of hope.

Emma, who hopes to study art and design at college in September and to go on to a career in graphic design, hopes to have shown the atmosphere and human spirit seen during the pandemic.

“I think that art and creativity is a great way to express how you’re feeling and to help you cope with what’s going on, so the film allowed me to do that as well as connecting with people,” she added.

“I’m really interested in how being creative, art, media can help people. It has really helped me, watching through and seeing all these different faces, to come to terms with having exams cancelled.

“It helps me to process this situation and I hope it does the same for other people.”

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She began making the film on March 20 and at 7pm on Friday, May 15 it will premiere on her YouTube channel EJG Arts.

She launched the channel to share other arts and film projects she has worked on, including a community music video she recorded with performer Sam Slatcher who also took part in this film.

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He is involved in various creative projects in the region including an Arts Council-funded project called Stories of Sanctuary, which brings together people from refugee and other backgrounds by creating songs about seeking peace and sanctuary for war and conflict.

Musician and interviewee Sam said: "Emma's imaginative documentary really captures the spirit of creativity at unprecedented times.

“It was such a pleasure to be included in this, when she just happened to log in to a livestream gig I did."

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