The benefits of filmmaking with young people

24 May 2019 in Into Film Club of the Month

6 mins
Filmmaking at Preston Lodge High School, East Lothian
Filmmaking at Preston Lodge High School, East Lothian

Our Into Film Club of the Month for May 2019 is Preston Lodge High School, in East Lothian, Scotland. The Into Film Club is run by Louise Marr, who talked to us about the positive benefits of making films with young people and how they've created films that are now with the National Library of Scotland's Moving Image Archive.

How long has your club been running?

My film club has been running for 9 years. It began as an after school club with a group of S2 pupils who were keen to learn about filmmaking and it has developed from there.

What do you enjoy about running an Into Film Club?

There's so much I enjoy about running my film club. It's been the most rewarding experience I've had in my 22 year teaching career. Many of the films I've made with kids have made me cry because they've been so moving and have captured something very special for all time. 

A particular memory I have is from a film premiere we held for a reminiscence film about World War II in our community. I looked along the packed-out church that hosted the premiere and saw all these OAP feet tapping along to the World War II music our music department was playing. We gave the community a great afternoon out that day. And a DVD to take home and be proud of.

I also enjoy making films with pupils as it's so important to record memories and films of places that no longer exist for all time. Through making the films, the pupils saw people and places in a different light and really valued them in a way they didn't before. It's rewarding knowing that these films are with the National Library of Scotland's Moving Image Archive, so that although some of the people and places we filmed no longer exist, their stories will live on forever.

It's also so rewarding introducing kids to filmmaking and seeing how good they are at it and how much they love it. It's great knowing some of them are now studying film at university and aim to go into the film industry post-graduation. The talent you see is quite incredible!

Watching and studying films with classes really broadens their horizons. They are exposed to worlds, situations and themes they would never have come across before, through a medium which they love.

Louise Marr, Preston Lodge High School, East Lothian

How has your film club developed over the years?

It's a long story! I was part of a Heritage Lottery archaeology project locally and, as part of that project, I worked with a filmmaker to make a short reminiscence film. Funding became available at school, which allowed the filmmaker I had worked with on the project to come in to school and teach us how to make a film properly. We made a reminiscence film about the school, for its 85th anniversary. It was a great success. One film led to another and we've now made over 20 films!

What are some of the other films your pupils have made? How do the pupils select the topics?

We've made films of all different types of genres, including seven documentaries, a news report, a zombie movie, a silent movie, a tourist film and several dramas. We've held a film premiere for each of our documentaries. Each film group decides what type of film they would like to make. I can present them with ideas but essentially, it's up to them in the end. It's their film.

Do you have any advice for teachers who are thinking of trying filmmaking in the classroom?

Plan ahead first and take advice from others. You need to make sure you have all the equipment you need to get started. Be prepared for enthusiasm. Pupils are keen filmmakers. You need to be very organised though, especially if you have a big class.

What do you think the benefits are to learning through film?

In my experience, I've seen pupils grow through filmmaking. I had a pupil who was very shy who gained confidence whilst filmmaking and went on to study film at Edinburgh College. Pupils who may lack confidence in reading and writing can really shine through film work. They have demonstrated some excellent creative qualities. You see pupils who are really good in front of the camera and some who are natural directors. 

It's a joy to stand back and let them take charge, discussing their ideas with each other. Team work is essential and if they don't work well as a team, the film struggles to be made. 

Watching and studying films with classes really broadens their horizons. They are exposed to worlds, situations and themes they would never have come across before through a medium which they love. Film can make them better human beings.

What are your top 5 filmmaking tips for educators?

  1. Think ahead. Do you have all the equipment you need?
  2. Trust in the creative process an idea will come with time. Sometimes it takes longer than at other times.
  3. Plan your film carefully. Storyboard it and write up a shot list.
  4. Give everyone a chance to take on different roles within the film crew.
  5. Take time to edit carefully, watching your film over and over again until you are satisfied with it.

You're an Education Ambassador for Into Film Scotland - what have you enjoyed or gained from being part of the scheme?

It's a privilege to be an Education Ambassador for Into Film Scotland. It's so valuable to be given the opportunity to meet other people and to hear about their ideas and experiences. There are many more advantages, including hearing about things first and having access to first class CPD. It's also always fun catching up with the other Into Film Club leaders and the Into Film Scotland team, who are so supportive.

What one final piece of advice would you give to new Into Film Club leaders??

Just go for it. You'll never know how it will work out till you try it. You'll definitely have fun along the way!

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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