Creating a lockdown inspired fantasy film

22 Sep 2021

5 mins
A Child of Stories - Scarabeus Aerial Theatre and Keys Meadow primary
A Child of Stories - Scarabeus Aerial Theatre and Keys Meadow primary

With so many periods of lockdown and isolation due to Covid-19, we've certainly all spent a lot of time in our own heads recently. For young people, this may lead to boredom and frustration but it can also allow their imaginations to run away with them, and two groups of students channelled just that by creating their own lockdown inspired fantasy films.

First off, Scarabeus Aerial Theatre and Keys Meadow Primary School teamed up for A Child of Stories, which is inspired by a number of classic fairytales and follows a brother and sister as they go on an unexpected journey. Meanwhile, Newton Longville Church of England Primary School brought together a massive team of young people to create Frakenlime - a film loosely based on Mary Shelley's original 'Frankenstein' but with a comedic (and musical) citrus twist!

Find out more about the projects below, both of which offer inspiring advice and practical takeaways for you and your class should you also want to let your imaginations go wild through the art of filmmaking.

A Child of Stories

This account comes from Scarabeus Aerial Theatre themselves:

Our theatre and Keys Meadow go back almost 15 years. Planning began in 2019 but the production was put on hold due to Covid. Keys Meadow School believed that making a film would not only enable children and teachers to learn new skills, but would reinforce their sense of commitment and build self-confidence. They knew their children needed a big project and not just a regular curriculum catch-up after missing so much from school this past year.

We went about creating the film with two different classes of Year 5 children who were from different bubbles and could never meet. The whole production needed to be rehearsed and shot entirely outdoors, whatever the weather. Luckily, both classes were resourceful, resilient and not easily put off by challenges.

We began researching stories from different cultures that reflected the children's backgrounds. We then worked with the children to settle on a story that incorporated the main elements of fairytales. Our main ingredients for this were: a quest which requires courage and determination, danger and dark thoughts, ancient wisdom and finally courage & determination winning over evil. A Child of Stories is ultimately a story of resilience that most people have lived, small and big, young and old, during the pandemic.

Over the years we have refined our methodology of working with groups of up to 60 children - some want to be performers and and some prefer to stay behind the scenes. This year, the children divided into four groups. Two groups of performers worked with physical theatre and circus directors to devise, rehearse and perform the story on location. One group worked with professional filmmakers to storyboard, plan the shooting and film the story as well as create a stop motion sequence. Finally, one group worked with two teachers & a marketing specialist to develop the poster, storybook featured in the film and overall marketing campaign to distribute the film to all schools in Enfield and other boroughs.

We soon learned that the children this year, after being out of school for many months, were in a very different place compared to the previous years. We found that we had to deal with the children's mediations on space and relationships with each other more frequently, they had shorter concentration spans a ravenous desire to play all the time. To recapture the children's ability to stay on task we used lots of different games to our advantage, which helped us focus on the creative process.

At the ‘red carpet' school premiere, it was amazing to see the children's faces lighting up when they saw themselves on the screen, and for the filmmakers seeing the fruits of their labour behind the camera.

Check out the final film below!


Inspired by her great-great-great-grandfather, Frankie Stein decides to build a 'monster' of her own...but this time with a lime for a brain!

Starting out as a lunchtime writing club in Year 6, with ideas being submitted via Google Classroom over the Easter holidays, the idea and storyline for the film was quickly brought together. From jokes about silly STEM club members with exploding slime to monsters offering bananas as gifts, what you see on the screen is very much the children's ideas brought to life.

Following auditions for key roles and interviews for film crew, the production quickly moved into action. With students filming in between lessons and their many extra-curricular activities, this enormous 49 scene movie (including a cast of 50 and crew of 10) was brought to life in amazingly only 5 weeks.

Watch the film and discover even more about the project here.

Whilst the Autumn term is now in full swing, it is still a perfect time to facilitate a filmmaking project in your classroom. As was so saliently mentioned above, young people need more than just a curriculum catch-up right now; they need a bigger project that can inspire them, increase their confidence and bring them together. 

We're always running film competitions that can serve as an extra incentive for your class, including Film of the Month, which accepts any film, of any type of genre and at any time of the year. 

Unlike the magnum opuses featured above though, you just have to make sure your film is under 10 minutes.

Check out some great resources to get you started below.

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