Learning contexts

When you are planning for film viewing and filmmaking, the focus should be on the learning experience. What will children learn from these activities, and what other learning activities will be linked to them?

Where will the activities take place – in the classroom, at a partner organisation, a local cinema, a mediatheque, or another school? Will children be working in groups or individually? In general, film education will focus more on group work with younger children, and there will be more emphasis on individual work as they get older.

Film viewing

This can involve group or whole-class discussion and debate; individual or group research exploring a film’s context and subject; and individual writing, from reviews and analysis to creative writing and poetry.

Clips or extracts are short and manageable: they can be studied in detail, either as a whole class activity or by groups and individuals.  Complete short films can be very useful in literacy or language work: unlike an extract, they will contain a complete narrative, but they are short enough to be used in a normal lesson. When working with clips/extracts and short films, it’s useful to be able to pause and replay them, play image and sound separately, and perhaps annotate them. Students should be able to work in groups and take notes while viewing .

Children should also have opportunities to view complete feature films, where they can immerse themselves in the world of the film. Here, a more ‘cinematic’ experience is important. The ideal school setup includes a large screen, comfortable seating, a good sound system, a powerful projector, blackout or near-blackout, and good sound insulation. But there are some relatively cheap ways of improving the viewing experience in an ordinary classroom or hall.

Filmmaking

Learning activities can include creative writing, (eg synopsis, treatment and scripts); transactional writing, (creating a ‘shooting schedule’, evaluating the finished film); planning, organisation and working in teams; critical viewing and reflection, eg when watching ‘rushes’ (raw filmed footage) before editing, and when viewing the finished film.

You should consider how the technical skills of filmmaking will be taught. Will you be demonstrating techniques to the whole class for them to emulate, or will you be teaching these skills separately to smaller groups or individuals? Will students teach skills to each other and work in teams, or will they work largely as individuals?

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