With a combined 80 years of film making experience, our team has helped Siren Films become recognised as a leading expert in creating training resources for the study of child development. Our films support academics, professionals, therapists, nursery staff and anyone who aspires to help children lead happy lives and reach their full potential.
We’re inspired by developing films that are educational, stimulating and, like children, simply fascinating to watch. We capture real events in children’s lives from their viewpoint – transforming contemporary theory into practice in a digestible way.
What makes Siren’s films so special?
We’re very proud of each and every video that’s created at Siren Films and have recorded thousands of hours of authentic, unscripted and honest footage over the years. We only film in real homes and childcare settings for our studies.
By capturing children behaving naturally, doing what they do, we’re able to honestly test theories and open up the discussion for new ones in the process. It is these formative years of a child’s development that are so crucial to their behaviour and learning in later life. What we provide are the required tools to equip childcare professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel within this field.
What really sets Siren Films apart is the time we spend with individual children. We’re often there throughout their early years, returning on a regular basis to observe and record progress. This allows us to study their development over a substantial period of time and provides truly absorbing subject matter for debate in the classroom.
The Evolution of Siren Films
In the beginning
In the beginning there was Wendy….. A young, hard working animal behavourist, studying for a PhD at London Zoo with Desmond Morris…
Doctorate in hand, she then emigrated to the cold dark North, and moved her interest in researching animal behaviour to children’s behaviour, spending time observing in nurseries...
This then lead to a job doing research on communication difficulties in children who didn’t talk. Wendy became fascinated by the development of their nonverbal communication and was keen to find a way of showing this process and her findings to teachers in training…
Reality TV 70s Style
Around this time she created her best productions to date – two lovely daughters… and they too became her subjects, closely observing and filming their behavior and development as they grew. With a free reign on this footage, Wendy began to chop into it, keeping the best bits and recording voice overs to explain what was happening...
Wendy had stumbled into making reality TV 1970s style!
Becoming a film maker
Wendy quickly realized this was her calling and put her research on hold to skill up as a real film maker. After lots of training, more research and a bit of fundraising she embarked on directing her first film, a fly on the wall documentary about the social lives of the children living in a street in Gateshead... where Wendy also lives...
It's a success!
After six weeks of filming and a year spent in the editing room, the production called 'Woodbine Place' finally emerged. It was first aired in 1987 at a decidedly unsociable hour on Channel 4 and Wendy wasn't expecting much... It was a huge success...
Filmed over six weeks one summer, with school and parents safely in the distance, this fascinating documentary is a study of the street play of young children living in a comfortable Victorian cul-de-sac in a North-eastern town. THrough their games, fantasies and interactions we get a revealing and unsentimental view of children's society - of it's morality, minefields, power struggles and unspoken rules - and of the importance of the peer group in shaping the child's social development.The Guardian
THE DRAW OF WOODBINE... Scheduled rather unsympathetically in the middle of a slack weekend afternoon, WOODBINE PLACE is a superb piece of television social anthropology - as interesting a programme as any this week. It consists of several weeks' fly-on-the-wall observation of a group of children from NorthEast England as they play, bicker and torment each other during a long summer holiday. If these we'ren't kids but furry animals instead, this would be considered brilliant wildlife filming.The Independent
Why C4 are screening this wonderful documentary film in such an inaccesible slot is anyones guess. Woodbine Place is a quiet cul-de-sac in a north-east town with back -to back gardens and a tight little community of free roaming pets and little children. It's the children who are the focus of the film, the under-12-year-olds in particular. Filmed over six weeks of the summer holidays this is a kind of 'Nature Watch' of children at play - each little participant is equipped with a microphone and the camera never rises above the eye-level of a six-year-old. Dogs suddenly loom large and adults are just passing legs. In the course of the film the word 'play' becomes increasingly inappropriate to describe what the children do together. FIghts and arguments reveal a child's struggle to construct a moral guidelines: how far should they go - the little faces are twisted in confusion. In interviews the children are lucid and perceptive about what their rituals mean: 'We're still friends when we fight,' says a three-year-old about her best friend. 'It's just that one of us wants something.' But they behave very differently with each other than they do with the adult interviewer.TIme Out
Woodbine Place was a nature programme whose subjects happened to be human. Prying on a group of children playing in the streets of Gateshead, the camera bore unsentimental witness to the psychological and physical cruelties which four-year-olds inflict on one another. Much of their time was spent in capricious negotiations about who was a friend of whom. As they sat back on a sofa to discuss the matter, they looked suspiciously like fat-cat salesmen posing for the Press...The Times
This is a real life tale of love and hate, betrayal, car thefts, where fighting is "just good exercise" and, after dark, wolves stalk the streets. This documentary studies the children of one street in the north east of england as they spend their time together, outside in the tree-lined cul-de-sac during the summertime , creating a composite 'day-in-their-lives'.
This compelling film allows the children plenty of time to give us all a rare glimpse of them in an environment comparatively free from adults. Not so much fly on the wall as cat on the fence, it is a lingering documentary to savour, containing scenes that are genuinly moving, clearly showing the daily struggle of growing up, the nuances of the interactions between each other, their fantasies bound in reality - challenging us to look again at some popularly held opinions of the nature of childhood.
>> Fast forward
Wendy's love of film making and studying child development using a scientific observational style has developed into the products we know and love today...
Times may change
Although technology, ideas and research have evolved since Wendy first picked up her video camera, children's innate ways of learning and developing hasn't. It's still about those crucial moments, playful interactions and meaningful learning... so the films have stood the test of time...
With help from experts
With the help from esteemed Early Years experts and 100s of hours of filming, in homes and childcare settings around the country, eventually Wendy and her now small team, had produced a comprehensive library of films, (winning a handful of awards along the way)...
The team today
Joined by her daughter Katrina (remember the start of Wendy's first accidental film) the Siren team continue to grow, all spurred on by a passion for film making and it's power to get across the important aspects of effectively supporting young children...
Which leads us to today... and our new library of online training resources, all based on the films we know and love. They've been dragged into the 21st century, given a small dose of interactivity and a huge dose of usability......
A formula for successful learning
So whether you want to increase your own skills or to support others to do so, Wendy's tried and tested method of linking real life examples of children's behaviours with current theories and research is a recipe for successful learning... So what are you waiting for? Go and try out some of our training products today