‘It’s easy when you know how,’ Digital Hub students tell EU commissioner

EU Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes with Lord David Puttnam  at the Digital Hub with Emmanuel Aliphon  and Ivan Cholakov from CBS Synge Street Dublin, participants in the Future Creators digital skills programme. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

EU Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes with Lord David Puttnam at the Digital Hub with Emmanuel Aliphon and Ivan Cholakov from CBS Synge Street Dublin, participants in the Future Creators digital skills programme. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Sat, Mar 23, 2013, 06:00


“Easy enough”, was how Conor Parry (13) described to European commissioner Neelie Kroes a complex-looking film he had made on computer after learning about coding. The student from Synge Street Secondary School was among those demonstrating their skills to the commissioner for the digital agenda yesterday as she visited Dublin’s Digital Hub.

Ms Kroes may have some ideas for making her own movies as she insisted, “But how would you explain it?” Emmanuel Aliphon (15) summed up the hard work the group of schoolchildren have been putting in to the programme by saying, “It’s simple – you just need to know some coding.”

Since September last the group of 13 to 16 year olds from local schools have been learning about coding, app development, computer programming and film-making.

Digital skills
It is the second year the programme has been run and is aimed at young people interested in digital skills or those identified as being at risk of leaving school early.

Ms Kroes was also interested in the lack of girls attending yesterday’s demonstration. “What can we do to deal with that?” she asked Liying Gwan (14), from Presentation Secondary School, Warrenmount, one of only two girls present.

“Personally I find it interesting,” said Liying, who shrugged off another question about whether anyone had ever tried to put her off her interest in technology because she was a girl.

Those interested in film-making got a boost yesterday with the visit of David Puttnam, a 10-time Oscar winner who produced films such as The Mission and Chariots of Fire and who the Government named last year as Ireland’s “digital champion”. Students said the one thing they would have liked when making their film was more time, to which Lord Puttnam responded: “I feel like that about every film I’ve ever made.”

Making movies
Making movies 30 years ago was literally tougher, Lord Puttnam told students. “I have a bad back and you used to have to carry cans of film around getting them on and off planes. Now you just need a little tiny piece of plastic and you’re done,” he said.

But he told students that while the technology of film-making has changed some things have not. “You need to be amazing – not just competent. I’ve never met anyone in film who didn’t really want it and wasn’t willing to punish themselves for it,” he said.