Take imagination from the page to the big screen

Laura Venn

Laura Venn is a Year 6 class teacher and head of year, who promotes innovation to improve learning. Through her role, she believes children should be viewed as the future of society and teachers should inspire them to want positive changes to such areas as equality, politics and the environment.

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Tubbenden Primary’s eco-warriors. // Image courtesy of supplier. Tubbenden Primary’s eco-warriors. // Image courtesy of supplier.

We all loved going to the cinema when we were young: the smell of popcorn as you walked through the foyer, the anticipation upon entering the dark auditorium, the flickering light of the projector, and the hush of the audience as the film began. It was, and still is, a truly magical experience for a child, being able to watch a film on the big screen. Now imagine if the film being shown were one that you had written and starred in yourself, the audience listening to your every word... That may have been only a dream to us, but this is the experience of many Primary school children each year, thanks to LitFilmFest.

Created and hosted by the masterminds at A Tale Unfolds, LitFilmFest is a film festival with a difference - it showcases films produced entirely by children, uniting pupils from schools across the UK in a celebration of their learning. They are the writers, the directors, the narrators and the stars in a whole range of visual genres, such as scary movie trailers and persuasive political debates. Teachers use the A Tale Unfolds filmmaking projects to guide their classes through the process of researching and producing a script, planning the shots, and eventually performing in the final video. Each piece can then be submitted to the LitFilmFest competition. The monthly winners from each category are invited to see their work shown at the main event, at the IMAX cinema in London, on the BIGGEST cinema screen in the country. This opportunity is an incredible motivator from the beginning, and the children work hard to make their film the very best it can be.

The incentive to teach LitFilmFest is incredible, but there are many other valuable aspects that develop throughout the learning process. The children’s ideas and written work behind the final film are crucial to its quality, ensuring they engage, inform and invoke an emotional response from their audience. All too often children’s ideas and imaginative words rarely leave the page they’re on; their ideas stay forever trapped within books, only ever read by teachers and parents. Giving the children a purpose and reason to write allows their ideas the freedom to come to life, and gives them faith that their voice has a purpose too.

If, back in February, we had told our Year 6 classes that they were to research and write about plastic pollution, there would have been an audible groan amongst them. However, we told them that their audience would be children and adults from all over the country, and that their mission was to inform, educate and trigger a change in society; instead of groaning, they were inspired, motivated, and enthusiastically took full ownership of their learning. Allowing them the freedom and opportunity to voice their ideas drove them to work harder, to speak out more and, most importantly, instilled in them a confidence that what they have to say matters.

For our Year 6 children, their work on the Change It project won the LitFilmFest competition category, was turned into a campaign to #BanTheBottle on Change.org, and their video is now exceeding 5,000 views on YouTube.

YouTube link

The LitFilmFest celebration gave our children an incentive to write and, in also providing them with a platform to share their work, they are now seeing the impact of their words upon others. It was not just an opportunity to see their film on the big screen, but to share their message with an audience.

Be sure to get involved this coming year. Visit www.litfilmfest.com and get those cameras rolling.

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