The Clip Club

I started a film club after school yesterday at the East London primary school where I work one day a week. There were various reasons for this – I wanted to continue to work with my 4 ‘BAFTA boys’ from last year and also make a space for film work and film making without any competing school agendas. I find the struggle to fit in with school timetabling and other commitments (shows/assemblies/masses/trips/rehearsals) too tiresome and restricting. The flow of media production activity is either cut short or just plain non-existent.

I’ve called it The Clip Club as I wanted to get away from industry-related associations and the idea of complete films being the be-all-and-end-all of film related projects. Watching and making clips make things more manageable and perhaps more in tune with what kids are exposed to these days on Youtube and social media.

I have enlisted the help of the Learning Mentor – John – who has been a great help already at getting the children in place and liaising with parents. Some kids had lost their ‘parent consent forms’ and he has friendly direct access to parents standing around the playground after school. There are 5 x Year 5 boys, 2 x Year 5 girls and 1 x Year 6 girl. They have been specifically selected for this project which will last an initial 8 weeks on a Tuesday, as children who ‘need a boost’ or who have been assigned a learning mentor for various reasons. A blog has been created to log the sessions, and to which the kids will contribute. We listened to the soundtrack of a film clip from Wall-E (c/o Film Education Primary Literacy DVD), watched it and examined its composition/film language.

Observations:

  • most showed impressive visual awareness about shots and different ways of shooting a scene
  • most knew the film Wall-E
  • point of view / shot focus came up
  • when I reached for the flipchart to write some stuff, some kids switched off
  • making the distinction between what’s possible with story-writing and film making seemed to interest them
  • they showed sensitivity towards music choices and varied editing pace
  • most guessed the number of cuts/shots in the clip (60) to within 20. One girl said 55. One boy said 12.
  • I didn’t explain their practical task very well – there was 15 mins left of the 45 mins – “the 4-shot scene” using different camera distances ended up being filmed as one shot with the camera moving in and out and around the subject. This is interesting because it suggests their lack of awareness of the constructed, fragmented nature of film…of its illusory flow. The fact that it’s built up as a sequence of separate shots involving many small decisions is often a revelation to them. Their surprise is only truly felt once they’re editing and making those decisions themselves.

Why is this important? Why is there value in doing what I’m doing? How am I going to indicate and measure the value? These are the questions I will be conjuring with over the next week before supervision.

I just had an image pop into my head ref. experiences with young children editing – that of a 6-ring gas cooker each pot requiring different temperatures and lengths of cooking and seasoning; some are steaming, some are boiling, some are simmering, but they’re ALL cooking and not being left to go cold. Sometimes the gas goes out inexplicably. I realise that I get interested when interest wanes and jump at the chance to re-ignite the flame.

I wonder how sustainable the children’s interest in editing will be? I haven’t had the opportunity to really see the process over a length of time. Projects are usually short and necessarily one-off ‘to give everyone a go’. Even with the Paris project – it’s usually one boy in the group who takes over at the interface whilst the others watch. I’d like to see each individual kid making progress and experiencing the triumphs and frustrations over a period of time.

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