If you decide to move from basic video recording to structured filmmaking projects, start by keeping the films short and simple. Making films more than a few minutes long will involve repetitive and time-consuming work. Five minutes is long for a school film: twenty or thirty seconds may be all you need.
Look for ways of filmmaking that give children plenty of opportunity for creative learning, and avoid activities that are unnecessarily difficult. Trying to imitate television drama or Hollywood film requires good acting, planning, and a high level of technical skill and attention to detail. Would it be easier to use an advertisement, a title sequence, or a public information film as a model?
Choose equipment that’s easy to learn and use.
Do you need bulky camcorders and professional editing software? Some very imaginative films have been made with very simple cameras and software. Can you use a phone camera, or a still camera that records movies ?
Do you need to record live sound? This is hard to do well. Can you manage without it by recording a voiceover, or creating a soundtrack, on a computer?
Animation may appear to be time-consuming, but a short clay animation film can take less time than doing a live action sequence properly. It offers much more scope to be imaginative with sets, locations and costumes in an ordinary classroom.
There are many different ways to plan a filmmaking project, and you need to choose one which is suitable for your students. Detailed scripts and storyboards aren’t always necessary: you can try using mindmaps or simple shot lists as an alternative. Discussion, collaboration and groupwork are some of the most valuable aspects of film education, so try to create plenty of opportunities for these.
In a recent project in East Midlands primary schools, nearly 70% of teachers said that film education didn’t take a long time to plan compared with other creative activities, and that the technology was easy to use: and 100% said that using film education was worth the effort.