The many benefits of creating silent films with your Into Film Club

10 Feb 2023 in Into Film Club of the Month

4 mins
COTM for January 2023
COTM for January 2023

After a short break over Christmas, we're happy to share that our Into Film Club of the Month for January 2023 is Meadows Primary Film Club from Telford, England.

The club has immersed itself in every aspect of film, which has to lead to them featuring in international film festivals and receiving a number of high-profile accolades. Below, leader Andrew Denton discusses his club's love of filmmaking, using silent film to encourage students who may struggle with other forms of learning, their use of Into Film+ highlights, and much more.

As we used the genre of a silent film, the children were not restricted by language and the beauty of making films is they can have more than one take. Therefore, children who might want to perform but lack the confidence for a lead role in a live school performance can become stars.

Meadows Primary club leader, Andrew Denton

Tell us a bit about your Into Film Club

Our film club has been running for seven years. Initially, we spent a lot of time sharing films from a breadth of cinema that the children might not have accessed such as The Eagle Huntress and those starring Laurel and Hardy. 

Over time, we've done a variety of other activities such as model making workshops with Aardman and collaborating with Film Stories Junior magazine on reviews and interviews. Increasingly, however, we're making films and those have seen some success at the Into Film Awards, Into Film's Film of the Month competition and at film festivals in the UK and abroad. So far, we've completed three short films and after we made our last film, our membership grew to about 30 again.

What inspired you to start your club and what do you enjoy most about running it?

I've always loved film since I was a child and wanted to share some of the experiences I remembered of discovering films. I initially felt that writing about film/film reviews was a good way to engage some learners who did not enjoy writing. I now enjoy filmmaking the most though as the children work together and they always surprise with the creativity and thoughtfulness of their ideas. My role is mostly to facilitate them coming up with ideas as much as possible.

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

I see pupils massively grow in confidence through the club. We had a number of children with Special Educational Needs, Social and Emotional Needs and who have English as an additional Language star in our last film. As we used the genre of a silent film, the children were not restricted by language and the beauty of making films is they can have more than one take. Therefore, children who might want to perform but lack the confidence for a lead role in a live school performance can become stars - other members of staff were really surprised by which children starred in our films. The pupils also continually surprise me with the skills they have for filmmaking and performance.

Recently, the club's film was screened at three film festivals, was runner-up in the Into Film Film of the Month competition and won Best Silent Film at the International Children's Film Festival of Wales. 

Our club runs for pupils from across Key Stage 2 and they really develop as collaborators, with the older pupils often looking after the younger pupils and making sure they feel part of the projects.

How does your club engage with Into Film+ and which are their favourite films on the service?

We have been watching the type of film we want to make in the future and the Into Film+ highlight function is particularly helpful as we can crop the films we're inspired by and want to watch more than once. Christmas films such as ElfHome Alone and The Muppet Christmas Carol are also favourites, and we enjoy the range of short films available. Our recent screening of Encanto was very popular and there were a number of children who still hadn't yet seen it.

Which other parts of the Into Film programme does your club enjoy?

We've been very lucky that our school has attended the Into Film Festival each year since we began the club. For some of our pupils outside of the film club it's their one trip to the cinema each year. Personally, I've found the Teaching Literacy Through Film course really helpful in enabling me to share ideas with colleagues around integrating film into the curriculum and they've since become more engaged in what we're doing at the club.

What are your future plans for your club?

We've just started attempting to make a musical as a few members of the club love this genre, and it's providing a lot of jobs and problem-solving opportunities for those who wish to be behind the camera. Other clubs have their own podcast, which we'd love to try and we want to write more magazine articles.

What's your advice to anyone thinking of starting their own Into Film Club?

If you work with children and love film, you should absolutely start your own club. It's given us so many more positives than I can mention here and developing what we do over a long period of time has enabled us to develop the children's creativity and confidence. Sharing their work with a broad range of audiences and entering the film festivals and competitions has certainly raised their aspirations too. 

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.

View other Articles in this column

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