Planning film projects

A film-making project normally involves several discrete elements.

Learning about film language

It’s important that learners have a basic understanding of film language before they start planning their films. Use short film sequences to look at how many shots a short sequence includes, what kinds of shots are used, and how the sound and image work together. There’s more detail about these techniques in the ‘Teaching about film’ section.

Defining the brief

The teacher or tutor can define the brief, or the learners can define it themselves. It should include an outline of the purpose of the film and who the intended audience is.

Keeping it manageable

Keep the film short: 30 to 60 seconds is plenty for a film made by children. It’s much better to make a short film well, rather than struggling to complete a long film. A 30-second film could include as many as 20 or more shots, so planning it carefully will take a long time.

Avoiding the hard stuff

Trying to emulate feature films or television drama is really difficult. Instead, devise projects that put more emphasis on creativity and story-telling rather than relying on technical expertise. Instead of trying to record live sound, record the soundtrack on the computer and edit the images to fit it.

If you can, film outdoors or where there is plenty of light and space so that you don’t have to use special lighting.

Careful planning

Learners should plan their film in as much detail as possible before they start filming. Traditionally this is done using a storyboard, but this can be cumbersome. You could, instead, start with a script and have a written list of shots. The planning stage can be one of the most valuable and educational parts of the process.

Class organisation

A whole class can’t all make the same piece of film. Instead, divide the project up into several short films, with a different group making each one, which you can then assemble together as a whole. These could be different episodes of one story or different aspects of a scene.

Tom Barrance

© 2007 Media Education Wales

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