Discover the social benefits of running an after school film club

02 Sep 2016 BY Daniel Spurr

4 mins
The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book

This year we will be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Lyndon School Film Club. While much has changed in that time, the club has remained stable and true to its simple origins: a common space for all students to come along, watch a movie, and share their love for films with like-minded people.

Throughout the years I've learnt how much our weekly film club has benefited the students' social skills and life. Below, I'll offer some film club tips I've picked up along the way.

Once a week at our school, a group of students from all years and backgrounds laugh, cry, sing and clap to the glory of moving images and sounds on our own silver screen.

Daniel Spurr, Film Club leader

No brick walls

There is no age barrier to attending film club at Lyndon. Films are selected so all in our 11-16 year-old cohort can take part, which has been a reason for the club's ongoing success. Students join in Year 7 and continue to rise through the years, enjoying attaining status as the seasoned elders of the group.

This is the first social benefit of our film club: the chance to discover who you are and what you like. We have a 'no pressure' approach to attending the weekly screenings. You are welcome to dip in and out depending on which film is showing. Equally, if you want to participate every week - and even help out with the film club tuck shop - that's fine too. It's an inclusive, non-judgemental atmosphere, where young people can be themselves.

Friends across year groups

Over the years, I have witnessed many friendships that have blossomed between students who had previously not spoken two words to each other. By the time students realise they like the same types of films, they are helping each other to write reviews for the Into Film website and testing each others' film knowledge. Often, it doesn't seem to matter if one of them is in year 8 and another in year 10; in film club they share a common ground that transcends the age barriers that are usually so fiercely maintained. 

Try to create a cinema environment

To make our club special we aim for that 'going to the movies' feeling; popcorn, trailers, seats in rows. Members help to set the room up for the screening and tidy up afterwards, all of which gives a sense of ownership (it is their club) and, in turn, increases students' confidence.

We also encourage good film audience etiquette - a set of rules is read out by a volunteer before the movie starts. This lets everyone know what is expected and sets secure boundaries for what is and isn't considered acceptable behaviour. It also works as a template for encouraging good audience participation in the real world, and regular cinema attendance as they grow up. 

Encourage the 'shared experience'

A surprising but enjoyable part of being a club leader is witnessing the extent to which staff get involved in the club. Rarely does a week go by where a staff member doesn't drop by to see what we are watching or pass comment on the film choice advertised around school on the film club poster. Colleagues enjoy sharing how excited they are that we are showing a film they love too. We have even had staff choose films from their subject areas. Untouchables (2011) was introduced by our French teacher, and our Music teacher joined us for School of Rock, laughing heartily throughout. I am looking to open up staff and subject-specific recommendations across the school, furthering staff involvement.

Another golden moment occurred whilst watching The Jungle Book from 1967. The whole group began singing without rehearsal to the musical number 'I Wanna Be Like You' - a magical, unselfconscious moment.

Living in an ever-connected world of technology, we are all, young and old, in danger of isolating ourselves from first-hand shared experiences. Once a week at Lyndon School, a group of students from all years and backgrounds laughs, cries, sings and claps to the glory of moving images and sounds on our own silver screen. The communal experience is very much alive and well.

Daniel Spurr

Daniel Spurr, Media Manager at Lyndon School in Solihull

Daniel works supporting students and staff Lyndon School's media centre, in addition to leading a number of extra-curricular clubs, including Lyndon Film Club. You can follow him on Twitter at @lyndonswitch.

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