Working with partners
Outside partners, including film professionals, can make a valuable contribution to film education. Their input can include giving advice on provision as part of schools’ capital programmes, providing training to staff, and working directly with young people. You may be able to find information about potential partners from existing local partnerships.
Professionals can give young people an insight into different aspects of the filmmaking process, from directing and editing to scriptwriting and sound. Young people often value the input of ‘real’ filmmakers. You can use professionals as mentors for large-scale filmmaking projects (such as those funded by First Light) or to provide masterclasses integrated into ordinary lessons.
Some cinema venues provide education programmes. Those that don’t are often open to approaches from local schools. They will sometimes provide daytime schools screenings, special screenings, or cinema visits where children get to see how a cinema works. You could also approach local film societies.
Some independent filmmakers are experienced in working with children or young people. In some parts of the UK, screen agencies have provided training in film education principles and techniques for filmmakers wanting to work with young people.
The relationship between teachers and film professionals should be an equal partnership. Film professionals have experience and technical skills but they are not experts in education. In some cases, they can be over-ambitious about a film’s scale and level of technical sophistication. It’s important to plan and agree projects in detail in advance to ensure that the young people have ‘ownership’ and opportunities for creative expression, rather than just ‘shadowing’ the professionals.
Other partners include local higher education institutions, which often have outreach programmes aimed at widening participation.
You could also contact writers with experience or knowledge of film, such as local scriptwriters or authors whose work has been adapted for the screen, and film reviewers from the local newspaper.
Obviously when working with partners it is important to comply with good practice in child protection, including seeking enhanced CRB disclosures where necessary.
First Light ran a project for 6-13 year olds on a Farnham housing estate with very limited youth facilities. Children made a film linking social problems to local history and folklore. Professional filmmaker Ian Lewis acted as mentor, supporting the students during their filmmaking and training them in industry-standard practice.
“Our mentor…helped source professional equipment, encouraged support from the broadcast industry, acted as an impartial sounding board for ideas and introduced us to contacts we may have struggled to gain.”
Work-related learning and progression to the creative industries
Film organisations, such as local production companies, larger film organisations and cinema venues, can provide opportunities for work-related learning, from basic work experience to longer-term apprenticeships.
‘Young apprenticeships’, two-day a week placements over two years, are available to 14-16 year olds in England.
The 14-19 Creative and Media Diploma (available in England, and as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate framework in Wales) has a substantial work-related element: half of the Principal Learning within the Diploma must be with an employer.
The Dukeries College used film to deliver the first year of the Creative and Media Diploma, working with Nottingham Broadway media centre. They integrated film production right across their Diploma programme, examples including production budgeting for Functional Maths and crew roles for Creative Teamwork.
Norwich University College of the Arts (HE), Media Projects East (production company) and Cinema City (venue) have teamed up to offer film and animation workshops to learners across Norfolk’s High Schools and Sixth Form Colleges. These 1-2 day courses for 13-19 year olds offer hands-on experience, careers advice and guidance, and advice on generating a portfolio of work for applying to Higher Education.
Ealing Institute of Media is the only Further Education college to be part of the Skillset Screen Academy network. They bring in professionals to run masterclasses and workshops throughout the year, leading to an annual ‘35mm project’ where students work with the support of industry mentors to make a TV commercial, a 5-minute drama and a music promo (using professional equipment) on a sound stage at Shepperton Studios .