Youngfilmmakers was an exciting project we developed with Hounslow based charity Spark the aim of which was to give students (aged between 15-18) an opportunity to work with experienced filmmakers (us!) and for them to produce 5 short films for 5 Hounslow based Charities or businesses in groups of 5. The charities involved were Cultivate London, MSO Marine, The Musical Musuem, Age UK, and I&H Homes.
The students first had to pitch in front of a panel of 6 and the winners of the pitch were selected to participate in the 2 week long course.
The students all had interesting ideas and it was hard to select the participants at first, but eventually clear winners were found.
All the students (27) turned out on Easter Monday to the Docking Station in Brentford where we ran a day-long intensive camera workshop. The idea was to introduce the students to the equipment they would be using (Canon DSLRs, specifically the Canon 5D Mark III), as although some had experience filming before, DSLRs were new to the students. We also showed them interview technique and introduced them to the lighting and sound equipment they would be using to make the films. Nell also talked through the groups about their ideas, to make sure their scripts had come together and to check the group had assigned the roles for filming.
At the end of the day Brazilian feature film cinematographer Azul Serra introduced us to his work, talking about how he had produced it, he then showed the students his RED EPIC (as used on The Hobbit amongst countless other Hollywood productions) and we tested out the high speed capabilities of the camera! Much to the students amusement.
Once the workshop was over each group was given 1 day to shoot their film and then an editing workshop and a further two days to edit them. On the shoot the students worked in the roles they’d chosen for themselves, with one person nominated director, camera, sound and then often a second person filming as well on the Nikon D5200. We felt it was important to give the students that wanted to film the opportunity to do so and on several of the shoots it was great to get some extra footage from the B -camera that we could incorporate into the final film.
The filming went really well except for the unseasonable weather (snow in April!) which was surprising to say the least! But we got some great footage in the can and then it was back to West Thames College for editing.
We taught the students using the latest Adobe Premiere CS6 which they took to really quickly and edited their films to a great standard. Some of the students had edited before, some had never edited before but we taught them all the tricks we know, showing them useful shortcuts and ways to speed up their cutting as well as advising them on the structure for their films and how to pick the best shots. We also showed examples of our own work to inspire them and to show them the different styles of editing as well as group discussions about editing a sequence. As there were only 10 or so students editing Anny and myself would work with 2 groups at a time and regularly switch between them to ensure that their progress was going ok and that they would reach the Friday deadline.
The final films had music composed specifically for them by Alex R Winter who did a brilliant job with the ideas that the students had given him, (some very specific, like it needs to sound like this song, to another group choosing their instrumentation and mood).
We were delighted with what the students achieved in the period of time and at times it felt like we were running a little film studio! The students impressed us with their organisation, their timekeeping, their ideas, their team work, their hard work and their imagination. We were simply blown away by the quality of work they produce and hope you are too.
The experience of running the course was incredibly satisfying, not only to produce excellent work that all the charities / businesses were incredibly impressed by (and will be using on their own websites) but also sharing our skills and knowledge with students who were so eager to learn. They gave an incredible account of themselves and it is to their credit that the final films produced are of such a high standard.