9 tips on starting a film club

03 Jan 2019 BY Grace Eardley

6 mins
5 people in film club watching screen
5 people in film club watching screen

With an Into Film Club you can order films from our extensive and expertly curated catalogue, entirely for free, and gain access to all sorts of help, support and extra materials to help you promote and run a film club in your school or youth-setting.  Below, teacher and Into Film Club leader Grace Eardley shares her top tips for starting a successful film club with Into Film.

For a limited time, we are offering all new club leaders the opportunity to start a new Into Film Club with a free copy of Ferdinand on DVD plus a special Ferdinand-themed version of our popular literacy resource The 3Cs and the 3Ss.*

This fun and interactive resource will help your new club members discuss and analyse Ferdinand's themes of identity, anti-bullying and friendship, while also developing their literacy skills.

1. Start strong

When starting out an Into 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!

2. Market your film club

Just like a film release, you could make some teaser posters for your film club. Just make sure they are engaging for the young people you're aiming your film club at. 

One approach I use is sending out an email to form tutors with a copy of a poster attached and asking them to display it during registration, or even to target certain students on an individual level who they think would benefit, or who have shown a keen interest in film. 

You could design your own, or, once you're signed up, you can log in to your Into Film Club section and order free badges and posters for your 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 badge and come to screenings as a result.

Promote Club Orderables (preview)

3. Day of the week

Look at the competition from other school clubs and plan the day of your film club to avoid clashes. I have my film 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.

4. Make it authentic

Make each screening experience as real as possible. This makes the film 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 screening. 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!

5. Start a democracy!

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!

6. Prizes!

Have prizes. Contact Into Film and they will certainly be able to help you in this area; I was sent an abundance of badges and pens and even two DVDs that I offered as prizes.

7. Keep in contact with Into Film

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!

8. Work smart, not hard

Hand the impetus over to the kids. Get them to update the screening posters weekly (they love the sense of responsibility), and get them to wear the badges around school.

9. Enjoy it

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 Into Film Club has created.

Don't forget, sign up for an Into Film Club today to be in with a chance of winning Into Film Club favourite Ferdinand on DVD!*

Films that have gone down a storm in my club:

  • 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 - We then took a trip to see The Force Awakens on its release day! Best. School. Trip. Ever!
  • Raising Arizona - A great, kid-friendly introduction to one of the best sibling partnerships in cinema. Madcap capers and thrilling action sequences from Nicolas Cage and the Coen Brothers.

*200 registrants will receive a free Ferdinand DVD. Register for an Into Film Club and sign your Into Film Agreement by 28 February 2019, to be eligible for entry. T&Cs apply.

Grace Eardly - Congleton High School

Grace Eardley

Grace Eardley was previously a subject leader for Film and Media and an English teacher at a secondary school where she ran 2 successful Into Film Clubs. Her commitments to film, innovative teaching and extra curricula activities were recognised in a nomination at the 2014 Tes Awards. She is one of Into Film’s longest running Educational Ambassadors and is currently undertaking a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research is funded by ESRC and explores using film to develop inclusive pedagogies for Neurodiverse learners specifically those with ADHD. As well her Doctoral studies, she continues to work as a specialist tutor working alongside young people with additional needs.

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