How to Keep your Into Film Club running during COVID-19

29 Sep 2020

6 mins
Girl Working from Home
Girl Working from Home

Following our recent look at how Into Film Club leaders adapted their clubs to continue throughout lockdown, several club leaders from Scotland offer their insights and tips on running online or virtual film clubs.

We spoke to Mandy Ross-McAllister from Alloa Academy, Clackmannanshire, and Kerry Abercrombie and Scott McFarlane from Larbert High School in Falkirk. These dynamic educators kindly told us how they embraced virtual solutions and new online activities so their film club members could enjoy a bit of consistency and extracurricular fun, even with everyone in their separate homes.

How did you go about running your Into Film Club virtually?

Kerry Abercrombie (Larbert High School) - To keep our film club running throughout lockdown we operated through Google Classroom. Luckily this was already being used widely in school well before the pandemic. We'd used it to communicate with our members before so the transition to running film club online was pretty smooth. To try and keep as much ‘normality' as possible we posted our weekly activities and recommendations at the exact time the club would usually take place.

One of the biggest challenges has been access to films. We rotated our recommendations across various free and paid streaming services and made sure to include a featured short film every week which could be accessed via YouTube.

Scott McFarlane (Larbert High School) - We shared quizzes, film reviews, short films, staff and pupil recommendations, jokes, trivia and memes - we had it all! We wanted to have as much variety as we could to make it as engaging and enjoyable for as many of our members as possible.

What advantages have there been to running your Into Film Club online?

Mandy Ross-McAllister (Alloa Academy) - The club provided a great platform for engaging with the pupils; I was able to speak with them about how they were doing during lockdown and to get feedback on how they were finding online learning. I found that it helped with pupil engagement with online work as they were logging in to Google Classroom more often if they were expecting a film club update.

Kerry Abercrombie (Larbert High School) - One of the great advantages of running the club virtually has been seeing our members strike up new friendship and conversations with people they don't usually sit with or know particularly well. We are a huge club with between 35-45 attendees and one of the downsides of this is that the members don't often have a chance to move around the room and have discussions and debates with everyone.

We're also seeing some of our quieter members find their voices within virtual discussions. Scott and I are able to join in all of the discussions rather than having to circle the room and drop in and out from group to group, and this has really brought a more close-knit feel despite the geographical distance.

Why did you feel it was important to keep your club running during lockdown?

Mandy Ross-McAllister (Alloa Academy) - Continuing the club during lockdown was a great way to keep momentum going. The pupils have put a great deal of effort into managing and developing the club, it would have been a terrible waste if interest had dried up.

Kerry Abercrombie (Larbert High School) - It was really important to us that film club continued, so much of the daily lives of our members were changing so rapidly and ‘normal' fell away so quickly that we felt a familiar and stable presence was a matter of wellbeing.

Film club also became a bright light for us adults; a concentrated time every week where we could connect with our young people, check in and forget about ‘school' for a while.

Scott McFarlane (Larbert High School) - Our film club is the highlight of the week for a lot of pupils so we felt it important to continue that idea of having a place for pupils to join their friends and discuss their opinions, a friendly constant in these unprecedented times.

One of the positive things about lockdown was the increase in creativity and the focus on the arts as a wellbeing tool.

Kerry Abercrombie, Into Film Club Leader at Larbert High School, Falkirk

What advice do you have for new Into Film Club leaders wanting to run their clubs online?

Kerry Abercrombie (Larbert High School) - Do it! While nothing compares to the atmosphere of a group of film fans in the same room, there are many unexpected gains to be made from a virtual club. We'll be glad to get back but we'll definitely be maintaining the online platform as an extension of our club.

Scott McFarlane (Larbert High School) - Don't be afraid to try new things and don't feel like you need to be the same as anyone else. As long as you offer a variety of activities for your members to engage with, and encourage participation and discussion, you won't go wrong!

You can find more advice and inspiration on running a virtual film club in our new quick start guide below. Don't have an Into Film Club yet? Find out more and get started.

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