When is good enough, good enough?

We’ve just been working with Cathy Poole from the Curzon Cinema in Clevedon for a third year on her Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts funded project that has allowed the Curzon to offer a programme of film literacy across North Somerset.

The project has seen groups of school children visiting the cinema, learning about film history, watching classic short films, and for 8 schools, working with CTS to produce short films.

The scale of the project means that each school’s film only gets four days of CTS time. One day of training and development, two shooting days and one edit day. For this to really work, it relies on the teachers taking on the lion’s share of the pre-production work, developing the script, doing the casting, finding all the props, costumes and choosing locations.

We start the process by inviting each school to an INSET workshop at the Curzon for a briefing on what they need to do and how the project works. Then there is a follow up ‘surgery’ which allows teachers to share ideas and get some feedback on what they are proposing. After that, each school gets a follow up project visit to get feedback on how their planning is progressing before the two filming days.

Last year one of the children at Yeo Moor Primary School came up with a lovely idea about a group of children playing a game involving a magic tyre that led a boy in the group to experience his whole future life in a few moments. That film won Best Live Action film at Kids For Kids 2013 and has had quite an influence on the project as this year there have been more dramas than in previous years, when we tended to get ideas for a couple of documentaries and some animated shorts. This year there are seven dramas on the slate and, using what’s to hand, they have all been set in a school, even if one story ended up with two children escaping from the stomach of a whale. It’s wonderful what you can do with chroma-key and an imaginative art teacher!

Going back to Yeo Moor, this year there was definitely a sense that they wanted to create an even better film than the Magic Tyre. Their story involves a boy finding a dusty untouched dictionary that every time a word is searched events unfold in the manner of the word. Great when its ‘wealthy’ being searched, but the story leads him to search for ‘catastrophe’ with predictable consequences. domain name searching And that brings me round to thinking about when good enough is ‘good enough’. denmark All the films are filmed and acted by the children themselves after a bit of camera training and the challenge for a filmmaker is getting the right balance between handing over control and wanting to push the children to try and improve on a performance or a camera movement. This year I felt Yeo Moor were ready to go a bit further and it means sometimes there were multiple takes for a scene that may have been good enough in another context.

Working with primary school children may not be everybody’s idea of serious filmmaking, but it has been a very satisfying process as over three years the schools and teachers have really risen to the challenge and taken on board the limitations of the project, taken responsibility for planning pre-production and encouraged the children to take control of the ideas. We hope this will have given a few of them an insight into an area of work and creativity that could lead to a career in the future.
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