There are a lot of stories on the Signed Stories app but one of them has a very special background. ‘Colour in the World’ is the first homegrown story to appear on the app and it was written by ITV SignPost’s very own Chris Allan!

Looking through the eyes of a child, the story explores the issue of mental health and the importance of talking about how we feel. It is a reassuring story that reinforces the importance of talking about our feelings and emotions. Here’s what Chris had to say about it.

How would you describe what ‘Colour in the World’ is about?

'Colour in the World’ is a story that looks at a father who experiences bouts of depression, but finds solace in drawing pictures for his son. The entire narrative is told through the eyes of the son, presenting a child’s view of mental health. It’s a simple story and I kept it that way by using stick figures for the illustrations. However, I still wanted to be able to effectively put across an important message, for adults and children alike.

What was your inspiration to write it?

It was originally written for World Mental Health Day in October of 2018, and the aim was to portray a child’s perspective on mental health, with the addition of British Sign Language and subtitles. After researching mental health issues, I knew the central message I wanted to convey was the idea of simply talking about your worries, rather than bottling them up. I hoped that the impact of the story’s progression would be a strong and emotional one: from the child narrator worrying about his father but seeing his father’s drawings from the beginning, progressing through to the father and child, and mother too, all drawing together by the end. If you look at the colours used, most of the story is in grey tones, but more and more colour is introduced as the father begins to open up and feel better about life. 

‘Colour in the World’ explores mental health and looks at the importance of discussing it with children. What are your thoughts on that?       

It’s definitely important for children to see mental health issues represented in their media, but it can be challenging to present such a sensitive topic. I decided to look at mental health through a child’s eyes, seeing someone else experiencing it, because I thought that would be a good way for a child to understand the way others might feel. It’s a topic that does need discussing.

You were able to produce ‘Colour in the World’ entirely in-house. Can you give a brief description of what that was like? 

I count it as a personal achievement to have been able to have creative control of this short form project from start to finish, from the writing, to the filming and animation and editing, and overall production of it. I was also lucky enough to be able to call on other creative colleagues to lend their talents to the story, from setting up camera to providing the voices and sign language! I filmed the drawing scenes in a small meeting room so the lighting could be controlled and the addition of sign language was filmed in our studio green screen. Some parts were trickier to work out - when three hands appear on screen, it took a lot of planning and rehearsing to make sure that it would work well on camera. The story wasn’t made specifically for the Signed Stories app - but I was really proud when the department director said that he’d like it to be added to the app.

Colour in the World was nominated for an award. Can you tell us about that?  

Earlier this year I entered the production into the Royal Television Society (North East & The Border) Awards 2019 and I was really happy to be nominated in the Short Form category!

If you did another story for Signed Stories what would it be?

I think I’d quite like to look at the characters of Signed Stories! We have Dexter the Robot, two penguins, Gianni and Tony, plus many more! It would be good to do a story that explores and explains their characters and their worlds.

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Lady Signing from an Autoscript

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