A library-set Into Film Club that engages with films from all eras

14 Dec 2018 in Into Film Club of the Month

6 mins
Members of Harlaw Academy Into Film Club hosting a stall to promote club
Members of Harlaw Academy Into Film Club hosting a stall to promote club

December 2018's Into Film Club of the Month is Harlaw Academy, in Aberdeen. Library Resource Coordinator and Into Film Club leader Alison Ustun talks to us about sharing her passion for film with her club members and how her film club helps to enhance the work she does to support pupils.

How do you run your Into Film Club?

Our film club launched in September 2013. It started as an after-school club, with the occasional lunchtime meet-up, but for the past year it's moved to lunchtime only. 

Every year I relaunch our film club for the new intake of S1s. I create a large display in the library, put notices in our school bulletin and put posters up in the corridor. I also make sure to talk to pupils about upcoming films and promote the club when they visit the library with their classes. 

This year the school held an extra-curricular activity fair to highlight all the clubs and activities available to pupils in our school. We had a film club stall at the event manned by S2 pupils, with lots of posters and some sign-up cards with the club code to hand out to interested pupils. 

I always make sure to start the year with a big blockbuster to get as many pupils in as possible. Before the screening, I show pupils how to get on the website and make sure pupils get signed up and start their wish lists - if I just leave them to sign up at home they never do it!

They like having the opportunity to watch films they wouldn't normally see and love sharing the excitement of big action films.

Alison Ustun, Library Resource Coordinator and Into Film Club leader

What do you enjoy about running an Into Film club?

Being able to share my love of film with the pupils is a joy. Exploring and discovering new films with them is a real adventure and one of the highlights of my week. Introducing pupils to classic films and old favourites and watching them through their eyes means you can experience the wonder all over again and sometimes see them in a whole new light. It gives me the chance to work with children in a different way. Best of all, it's FUN!!

What do your pupils enjoy about being in an Into Film Club?

Pupils feel a real ownership of the club. It's their special time - they get to bring their lunch into the library and there's a real buzz when they arrive for each screening. Watching films is a great way for them to relax and escape from the stresses of life and forget about their troubles. It's a great place for them to hang out with their friends and make new ones there's a lot of banter! 

They like having the opportunity to watch films they wouldn't normally see and love sharing the excitement of big action films. One of the highlights each year is going to a screening at the Into Film Festival - the pupils help to choose what we're going to see.

What are the top films you've screened?

Obviously in the past five years we have watched a lot of films. I'd say mix it up a bit and be adventurous. Don't shy away from the old black and white classics. My club members enjoyed The Marx Brothers' Duck Soup and Chaplin's The KidRebel Without A Cause was popular and I was surprised by how well they responded to The Day The Earth Stood Still and High Noon

We did have a bit of a debate about colourisation when we watched A Wonderful Life. We had to watch it in three parts: we started in black and white, watched the next part in colour, with club members then voting to watch the final part in the original black and white. 

Letting the members have their say is important. If you have a few films available, introduce each film or show them the trailers and let them choose. Having club members choose screenings a few times a year encourages them to add films to their wish lists and then order their top picks.

I'm happy to say that two non-Marvel films have made our current club members' top 5. The top film that members still talk about is Groundhog Day. They absolutely loved it - I can't recommend it enough. Next up is Hitchcock classic, Rear Window. The remaining favourites are Thor: RagnarokBlack Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy - with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them just missing out.

Your Into Film Club is set up through the school library - does impact on its structure and success?

I think having the film club in the library enhances the work I already do to support pupils as a librarian,  both educationally and pastorally. Because I'm aware of the projects pupils are doing in subjects across the school, I can choose films to tie in with their work. This week we're screening Hope And Glory to support S2 pupils' research for 'Social Subjects on the Home Front in WWII'. 

I've been able to create stronger links with departments and it has helped to raise my profile in the school. I'm also able to highlight National Awareness Days and celebrations with special showings: Anti-bullying Week, Holocaust Memorial Day, Mental Health Week, etc.

What advice would you give to club leaders keen to make films with their members?

Just give it a go! Use the filmmaking resources on the website to guide you. Go along to local Into Film training events or try online training.

How does your Into Film Club support careers activity at your school?

I promote BFI Academy courses and opportunities available at our local Belmont Filmhouse with posters and notices in the bulletin. I put up displays throughout the year - the careers maps available from the ScreenSkills website are great. Our school was lucky enough to host a STEM / VFX careers talk by Yen Yau, Into Film's Talent Development Manager, which was very informative. There are also lots of great resources available on the Into Film and the BAFTA Guru websites.

What are your future plans for your Into Film Club?

With our current meetings taking place at lunchtime it doesn't really give us much time, but I'd love to try some animation with my club. I'm also hoping I'll be able to arrange for some visits from industry professionals in the coming year.

If there is one piece of advice you could give to new Into Film Club leaders, what would it be?

Have fun!

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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