Toddlers' big movie premiere

It is a long way from Hollywood - but the next Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese could well be coming from Lowestoft.

It is a long way from Hollywood - but the next Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese could well be coming from Lowestoft.

This weekend the world's youngest filmmakers attended a premiere of the movie that people said could never happen. They might be just two to four years old, but that was not going to stop these 16 toddlers from making their own film.

There was no red carpet at the Ark Children's Centre in Lowestoft on Saturday, but there was plenty of ice cream and cake, so no one seemed to mind. The assembled parents cooed and laughed as they watched their children's work, while the youngsters themselves seemed fascinated.

The film, called Tot Toons, combines video of the children with music and animations, using pictures the children helped to create. They used laptops with special software, graphics tablets and mini mice to make the animation. For nearly all the children, and some of the parents too, it was the first time they had ever used a computer.

It was all part of a Sure Start project, aimed at helping families from a deprived part of Lowestoft to learn and improve their computer skills.

Freelance filmmaker Michelle Savage and animator Steph Kedik helped the children to make their film.

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Ms Savage said: "When Steph and I told our colleagues we were doing animations with two year olds, they just laughed. They said, 'That's impossible, you won't do it.'

"It has gone fantastically well. The film is really colourful and looks really good. We have spent a lot of time doing research and we haven't found anyone else that has done this anywhere in the world.

"They are really bright kids. They understand, which everyone said they wouldn't, that if they draw with the art tablets they would see it on the screen.

"We have shown it to professional animators and they have been really impressed with that the kids have done and how they have understood the process."

Parents were also enthusiastic about the film. Rhiannon Ffrench, mother of three-year-old Simon, said: "It is absolutely brilliant. I don't think there was a child in the room that didn't benefit massively from it. When Simon got home he couldn't stop talking about it.

"I spoke to all the other mothers afterwards and they all took something away from it. I am not big into computers but I had a lovely time."

As for the end result, she said: "I am a mum, what am I going to say? It is lovely."

Joanna Pawlett, whose daughter Morgan, three, took part, said: "She has learned so much, from the first day when she was only able to hold the pen, to being able to make her own picture.

"The film is brilliant. Something like that is nice to keep for the future. I feel really proud of her. She has done really well."

Jacky Offord, Sure Start community librarian, said: "They have just loved it. They are only little and they have shown us skills we never expected them to have."