Lights! Camera! Action! Creating a School Film Program
Having a hard time getting your students off their smartphones? Maybe they need a class that leans into their passion for those devices and the videos they’re watching on them. You can give them that experience by starting a film program at your school.
The New York Times reported on the recent explosion in film-school enrollments. “Over the last two decades, film degrees have increased nearly 300 percent: 10 times as much as college degrees overall.” The field is hot! Film programs are cropping up everywhere from summer camps to your local 4-H Club. Starting a program at your school will help your students explore their creativity and give them a glimpse into what a future in filmmaking looks like.
If you’ve got iPads, Chromebooks or other portable devices in your classroom, you may have most of the equipment a film program requires. You’ll also need a curriculum that addresses the key skills involved in creating a film: script writing, storyboarding, cinematography and editing. Let’s look at what’s involved with each.
Storyboarding Your students will need to start with a story idea and translate that into a script to use as they act out the story in front of the camera. Scriptwriting will help students to develop their writing skills and push their creativity as they strive to convey their message through only dialogue and actions.
Storyboarding is the process of planning out scenes to be filmed through the use of rough drawings that show how the set, props, and actors will look in front of the camera. This high-level planning must happen before your student director shouts, “Action!” so that the flow of the scene is clear to everyone working on it. It will help filming go more quickly and smoothly.
Translating a story from an idea in your students’ heads to a video they can share with others is at the heart of the filmmaking process. With the camera in hand, they’ll experiment with how to most effectively capture the action and dialogue, using close-ups shots to focus viewer attention or medium or long shots to capture scenes with larger casts.
You’ll need an editing program such as iMovie for Mac or Movie Maker for Windows so that your students can stitch their scenes together into a finished film.
In this article, teens at the Kitsap Regional Library talked about the boost in self-esteem they felt after taking part in a filmmaking film project. They enjoyed the opportunity to audition, find themselves in a character, and be part of a collaborative project. Starting a film program at your school will help your students feel this satisfaction as well.