Using C and S to plan and make a book trailer

I’ve just spent a great few days with Y6 at Parkwood Primary in Keighley as part of another project – Literacy in Touch. Our aim is to film a trailer for a book with nothing more than an iPod touch and lots of imagination, energy and enthusiasm.

We started by learning the language of film using the BFI’s brilliant C and S technique: Camera – Character – Colour – Setting – Story – Sound. A quick intro’ to this was provided by the NHS 5-a Day film Gimme 5. I  Always use this – it lasts less than a minute – but is a brilliant piece of persuasive filmmaking.

Next, we used four minutes or so from chapter 1 of the Pixar film Up – a stunning piece of cinema. To support this we used the jigsaw speaking and listening approach to get maximum involvement from all children.

I’ve recently discovered a trailer for Tom Palmer’s new book Own Goal which I used as a model of the sort of thing they might make. I had also had a play with the iMovie app over the weekend and made a one minute of a trailer for Oliver Jeffers’s Lost and Found. This led to a minor challenge as, having demoed iMovie to the class, when we looked at iMovie on their iPods it was quite different and much more limited. It seems they have version 1.1 and I have 1.2 – I’m working on this.

As they began to work on storyboards, we also let them play with iMovie  and practise filming their opening shots. This raised issues of camera shake, light reflection and the quality of their camera work.

A storyboard covering camera shots, script and sound

Having discussed quality and quantity – too many clips were long and rambling- we set to work on filming the opening and attention grabbing shots.  All children now have these ‘in the can’ and many have completed storyboards and are ready to roll next week. What is interesting, is how the children are now using technical language such as panning and tilting and extreme close up when planning and making their films. The investment of time on day 1 in talking about Cs and Ss was well worth it.

These children did their SATS last week. And although this isn’t quite as much fun, I have to commend them on their efforts and behaviour this week. They have been a delight to work with and an absolute credit to their school and the people who work there. I’m back next week for more of the same  – can’t wait!

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