Using Into Film+ themed collections and short films in your club

08 Jun 2022 in Into Film Club of the Month

6 mins
Into Film Club of the
Into Film Club of the

Our Into Film Club of the Month selection for May 2022 is Clackmannanshire Schools' Support Service (CSSS) - Secondary from Scotland. Below, Into Film Club leader and English teacher Susan Gould discusses the benefit of thematic collections on Into Film+ and how short film in particular helps her engage her pupils with film whilst navigating the time constraints of school.

In a typical school day there can be so many other demands and constraints on time - that's when short films are extremely useful. The pupils engage with them so quickly and normally have quite strong opinions as to whether they liked it or not.

Into Film Club leader and English teacher Susan Gould

What inspired you to start your Into Film Club?

When I started with CSSS in 2019 I was keen to use film as a way to engage pupils in literacy. For many of our pupils, literacy difficulties over the years had created barriers to positively interacting with English and literacy, so film was a safe and friendly way for pupils to get involved. It gave them an opportunity to show off their knowledge and really shine. We also decided to create an Into Film Club as part of our English and Media lessons. 

What do you enjoy most about running an Into Film Club?

For me, running an Into Film Club has allowed me to build positive working relationships with pupils and get to know them as individuals. It also creates the opportunity for them to discuss a variety of topics in a mature and honest way. Most importantly, I like seeing them intently watching films and getting real enjoyment out of it. 

Before Covid, we took part in the free Into Film Festival and the pupils chatted about it for ages afterwards. Getting pupils to write reviews gives them real writing experience and they take pride in their work when they see it published on the website.

What positive changes have you seen in your pupils since joining the club?

It's fantastic seeing reluctant pupils put forward their thoughts and opinions, and pupils often can speak eloquently about what they enjoyed about a film. Additionally, they can also speak knowledgeably about the techniques being used in a film. Pupils' voice is an integral part of our film club and it can impact positively on a pupil's self-esteem. Whilst pupils may be reticent to read for example, they're much more at ease watching the film and exploring characterisation, setting and theme in film.

Do you use Into Film+ with your club members and if so, which ones have been your highlights?

Into Film + has been really transformative for us - the ability to stream films at the touch of a button allows us to quickly and easily choose suitable films for different pupils and classes.

When the Our Earth programme was released, we found the short film, The Beauty really powerful for stimulating discussion around single use plastics and climate change. We were then able to compare and contrast it with The Story of Plastic. After that, we watched The Lorax which enabled us to continue discussing our impact on the environment. 

Using thematically linked films has generally worked really well for us. Around the time of Holocaust Memorial Day, our senior pupils watched The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and JoJo Rabbit. The latter film was a big hit with the senior pupils and one that will stick with them.

We've found that watching films that our pupils have already seen can be really beneficial as it gives them an opportunity to chat knowledgeably with others. One good example is Ready Player One as, like so many teenagers, our pupils love video games and could connect with lots of aspects of the film. It also helped us springboard into discussing the positives and negatives of virtual reality and social networking more broadly.

What other parts of the Into Film offer do you engage in?

For my own professional development, I've been using the Learning Platform. The online courses are extremely valuable in increasing my confidence and developing my knowledge of film.

We've been really well supported by Into Film, in particular, when we undertook the Film Buff Challenge. Similarly, we received support with how to go about applying for a grant for the PVS Licence, which helps us access Into Film+ more easily.

If you could give one bit of advice to someone thinking of starting their own club, what would it be?

I would definitely recommend using short films. In a typical school day there can be so many other demands and constraints on time - that's when short films can be extremely useful. The pupils engage with them so quickly and normally have quite strong opinions as to whether they liked it or not. There's an abundance of short films to choose from, ranging from educational to silly, and they can be really powerful in developing pupils' ability and confidence in speaking about film.

This Article is part of: Into Film Club of the Month

Each month we celebrate one Into Film Club's achievements and talk to the club leader about how they approach their sessions.

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