‘Film is the richest, most expressive art-form and medium of expression human beings have ever invented, and it is the first one that we learn.’ Cary Bazalgette, Head of Education at the British Film Institute from 1999-2006
By take 8 of the very first shot, it had dawned on me just how much work making this film would involve. Scanning through the footage later that evening revealed that after the first shoot (about an hour of production) my cast, crew and I had managed to film one entrance through a door and one line of dialogue. The lesson about the true nature of filmmaking had begun for all of us!
The students involved in making ROBOT were in their last year of primary school (age 10/11). The aim was to make a complete short film and to do it properly by using the conventions of filmmaking. I recruited five students as crew, including boom/sound recorder, clapperboard, lighting and a production assistant. Every Tuesday afternoon I’d rush to get the set of that particular day’s shoot prepared, get all the equipment ready and then pick up the students from their homeroom at the end of the school day.
As we had a little over an hour each week, filming was frenetic, to say the least. Initially, it was very slow going as the crew got used to their jobs whilst working together and the cast got used performing in a film production context. However, over the course of production, the actors and crew adjusted admirably and on average we were able to turn an hour of production into about a minute of the film!
The support I received from the school was incredible and a testament to the strength of the community at KIS. Over fifty students and members of staff were involved. From my fellow teachers who acted, recorded radio announcements and stayed late to provide production support, to the maintenance and admin staff that made rooms available and provided resources. The parents and class teachers of the children involved were also wonderfully flexible and patient.
It was a wonderful experience and defined what can be achieved through co-cocreation and a passion for storytelling through film.