Associated with Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, Freie Universität Berlin

Stop-motion workshops at the International Garden Exhibition Berlin (IGA)

Throw away or eat? This is the question raised by the participants in stop-motion workshops, in the context of the approximate 20 million tonnes of foodstuffs per year which are currently being disposed of in the garbage or in biogas plants in Germany. Since June 2017, the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, Freie Universität Berlin (BGBM) has been conducting these 3-hour workshops with school classes. The participants produce a plot for a film, creatively discussing their own way of dealing with food, or formulate a message to political decision-makers.

The group of educators shoots a stop-motion film at the IGAPhoto credit: Matthias Fritsch

The idea for the stop-motion workshop was developed by the BGBM co-creation team, which met every two weeks from January to July. The task was to find an attractive workshop format for the IGA in which young people would get to grips with food waste. The co-creation team did not just test the idea, but one or two team members regularly joined the IGA workshops.

By now, four workshops have been held, involving a group of adult educators and three school classes with students aged between 13 and 18 years. Four more IGA-workshops will follow in September and one more in August at the Berlin Food-sharing Festival.

In the workshops, the participants are introduced first to the subject of food waste by unpacking a basket full of foodstuffs most of which has gone past its best-before date and fruit and vegetables that, according to the criteria of the trade, are not "attractive" enough for sale. This is expected to enable a discussion with the students about their own experiences and attitudes towards food consumption. For further information, we will also offer photos and statements on different aspects of the subject. 

In the next step, the participants are asked to come up with a film storyboard about food waste. After having learned some basics about film technology of stop-motion, they start shooting their films using tablet computers, screwed on tripods, with the Stop-Motion Studio app. To help their imagination, we offer them an abundance of material that can be cinematically animated, such as colourful paper, crayons, toy figures, small trash cans, food packages from a toy shop, various colourful sweets, fruit and vegetables. 

The co-creation team tested the stop-motion-workshop.Photo credit: Carla Schulte-Fischedick

According to our experience so far, the format proves to be very suitable for reaching the target group of young people. With their everyday experience, they can easily adapt to the topic of food waste. Using their creativity to develop their own films through modern technical means turned out to be a very attractive activity for all groups. Apart from having fun, a whole series of funny and inspired films have been created so far. At the end of the workshop, the filmmakers are allowed to take their work home.

The workshops and the materials used for this are the basis of our future BigPicnic exhibition, which will consist of a mobile stop-motion studio in a suitcase. In addition to the technology required for the production of stop-motion films, the suitcase will contain extensive information on the subject of food waste, items for animating, and a technical manual. The suitcase can be borrowed by groups who will share their results with the BGBM. These will be published along with the films made at the IGA-workshops on a YouTube channel as part of the exhibition.