Simple Movie Making

When asking my Advisory Board for summer suggestions, one of them threw out ‘movie making’. When the others nodded enthusiastically, I decided to add it to the summer line up after asking a few follow up questions. They didn’t want to do stop motion or anything like that. They wanted to film mini-plays staring themselves and others. It was not something I had a lot of experience with and my library has no green screen or much equipment at all for this. I did find out after I agreed to and scheduled the program that we have two older flip cameras that are not the best on the market but incredibly simple to figure out how to use. Not only that, but I own a small flip cam myself so I had three pieces of slightly more advanced technology to work with.

As we got closer to the program date, I pitched it as a chance to act, film, play with lighting and props. But a call for fun props from other staff members went unanswered and I felt distinctly uninspired, so I decided to wing it. I collected (both from our collection and our consortium) a pile of short play books for tweens and teens and sort of held my breath to see how it would go. I got 8 kids, ranging in age from 10 to 16. Once they  came in, I did offer Legos for stop motion (none took me up on it) and then passed around the short play books. They split very naturally into three groups (with a little nudging from me so everyone felt included).

Two groups took script books. One of the groups had me make copies of the scripts so they each had one and then set off into the rest of the library to film, using four different spaces. I did make sure they knew not to catch the faces of other patrons, just for privacy issues. The other group eventually had me make copies of scripts too but stayed inside our big community room to film. The third group decided to do a tour of the library (also with the instructions not to film unsuspecting patrons). One of them filmed and other one narrated. It turned out hilarious, mostly because their knowledge on areas outside the children’s/YA areas was often spotty but they tried hard.

The second two groups ended up with full movies – the first group had a great running video of their play using all three floors of our library. It was unpolished and sometimes hard to hear them but they clearly had worked hard on it, spending almost 90 minutes working away. The library tour group did three takes and finally ended up with one that was fairly informative and not too shaky. The third group accidentally deleted their one completed video (one complaint about the flip cams is they make it a little too easy to delete all videos) and then cracked themselves up too much to do a second.

All eight asked for an encore. I had four kids at the program in September. The four worked together to create a great funny skit. Three of them acted while the fourth did a fantastic job with the camera work. I’ll probably do another next summer.

The great part was there was no cost at all. Even if you don’t have flip cams, cell phone cameras would also work. The scripts were all short and were not even a full ten minutes long in most cases. I did not get super high turn outs but the kids raved about it and really enjoyed getting to watch themselves on the computer afterwards. The videos have been simple but creative! If I was going to do one thing over, I’d get permission ahead of time from parents to post the videos when they were done.

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