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When starting out a film club make sure your first screening is something fresh and exciting. When I first started my film club, The Dark Knight Rises had just been released on DVD. I literally had to manoeuvre my way past a queue to get into my own classroom!
Just like a film release, you could make some teaser posters for your club and make sure they are engaging for the young people you are aiming your club at. Another approach I use is sending out an email to form tutors with the copy of a poster attached and asking them to display this during registration, or even target certain students on an individual level who you think would benefit, or who have shown a keen interest in film. Contact your programme coordinator by email to see if you can get some badges and pens for the first screening. Kids (and teachers!) love a freebie and this also widens participation as friends of existing members may see a friend with an Into Film pen/badge and come to screenings as a result.
Look at the competition from other school clubs and plan the day of your film club to avoid clashes. I have my club on a Friday, which may seem like a crazy idea (as most teachers are exhausted and practically crawling to their cars by the time Friday 3pm rolls around!) but in fact this choice has been tremendously advantageous. Not only do I not compete with too many other clubs, but when I enter with that week's DVD and see the buzz from the students, I'm reminded why I went into teaching in the first place, and given a revitalising and well-needed boost at the end of a busy week.
Make each screening experience as real as possible. This makes the club fresh and exciting and also aids behaviour and screening etiquette. I recently bought some awesome popcorn holders and get them ready for the start of the club. Microwaveable popcorn is also very cheap and easy to make. For the days when I'm run ragged I tend to keep a stash of film activities to hand, so the kids can read film magazines or do some film character colouring in before the film starts. They also share my love of Mark Kermode, so I often stick on the The Film Review on iPlayer. This has the additional advantage of improving their approaches to review writing and definitely increases their vocabulary!
Negotiate your film choices with your club and allow them to choose or vote. It's all too easy to go off on a self-indulgent tangent and attempt to recreate your own childhood film-viewing heritage, but a sense of balance is essential. My approach is to pick one unknown film for every Hollywood Blockbuster that's suggested. The current flavour of the month is Ant-Man.
Recently, I have been thinking of my screenings as a set film ‘programme' and actually curating this just like a film season or festival. This term we are doing Other Cultures and Traditions. So far we have watched My Neighbour Totoro and we are about to watch the recently critically acclaimed Irish film Song of the Sea. And yes, at the end of this term I think we will finally watch Ant-Man!
Have prizes. Contact your club coordinator, they will certainly be able to help you in this area; mine sent me an abundance of badges and pens and even two DVDs that I offered as prizes.
Give them a quick email every once in a while to check in. Tell them what you've been up to. This also gives you a sense of achievement as it's often really easy to forget how much you have done for your film club!
Hand the impetus over to the kids. Get them to update the screening posters weekly (the love the sense of responsibility), get them to wear the badges around school.
You clearly have a passion for film, let it show and this will be contagious. Open up each week's film club by having a quick whizz round discussing anything great you have seen in the past week or any recent film news. Then sit back and bask in the screening and the excitement that your film club has created.
My Neighbour Totoro - Beautifully immersive and timeless, a watercolour masterpiece. The lack of conflict and overall adorable cuteness will make you melt and give you ( and the kids ) a face ache from grinning.
Paddington - Superb cinematic representations of a realistic, but visually spellbinding London with some hilarious comic sequences.
The original Star Wars trilogy - (then a trip to see The Force Awakens on its release day) Best. School. Trip. Ever!
Raising Arizona - A great kid friendly introduction to tone of the best sibling partnerships in cinema. Madcap capers and thrilling action sequences from Nicolas Cage and the Cohen Brothers.
Some Like It Hot - "Miss, I liked it even though it was black and white!"
What began with 16 children watching Indiana Jones has transformed how our school uses film in the classroom.
Reading time 5 mins
One project in Bradford has confirmed the direct link between using film in literacy lessons, and academic attainment.
Reading time 6 mins
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