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UCL film education journal - FINAL (JUST

Filmmaking about social issues with primary school children in Scotland







Aoife Donnelly and Avril Whelan (teachers, Granton Primary School) and Jamie Chambers (ECA, Film Education Journal) discussing how they used film in the classroom.


See You Tomorrow: A case study of the Understanding Cinema project at Granton Primary School in Edinburgh


This article describes a filmmaking project which took place at an after-school film club at Granton Primary School in Edinburgh from 2016 to 2017. It is written by the teachers and filmmaker who were involved in the project and is a great first-hand account of the benefits and challenges to consider when creating films in a primary classroom context. There are a range of tips and ideas for you to take away and use back in the classroom with your pupils. The final film created by the pupils can be viewed online for free at the link below and provides a template which pupils can use when creating their own. The film could also be a starting point for conversations with your class around the challenging topic of bullying and racism within school life, discussing the difficult issues faced by the character and how they are resolved. 


“Seeing what seemed to me a bunch of sporadic, random clips all fit together as a film with a hugely powerful message was very moving. Furthermore, the kids who wrote, directed, acted and filmed each and every scene (lots of times!) were speechless watching their hard work back. Seeing it all put together and to see their project turned into a film was something they were very proud of. I remember them saying ‘that’s so good, I can’t believe we made that’” - Aoife Donnelly, Class Teacher  (p.74)

Key points to explore:


The article discusses a range of themes - below are a summary of certain points which you can read about in more detail, with page references so you can find them easily:


• Setting up a filmmaking project: tips for preparing pupils; taking photographs as a way of expressing emotion visually and learning how to frame shots; how pupils learn to reflect upon and evaluate their work (pp.66-67)


• The project’s direct links to the Curriculum for Excellence and how filmmaking can develop pupils’ skills in a range of key learning areas as well as their emotional literacy and personal development (p.67, 70)


• How filmmaking is beneficial in developing pupils’ teamworking abilities and communication skills, particularly for students who struggle with traditional literacy and numeracy (p. 67, pp.69-70) 


• Challenges that teachers and pupils might face (p.67, 69, 72)


Ideas for the classroom:


Watch See You Tomorrow at the link above.

1. Discuss the following questions with your class:

• What is the message of the film?

• When making a film, what do you think are the biggest challenges for the filmmakers?

• If you had the chance to make this film, what would you do differently?


2. Now rewatch the first minute of the film. Ask your students the following questions:


• How many shots are there in the first 60 seconds? Get pupils to clap every time there is a cut. 


• Discuss the following questions with your pupils. How many shot types can they identify (close-up, medium shot, long shot etc)?  Why do the filmmakers use these certain shots? What do they tell us about the characters?


Further resources:

On practical filmmaking: film education charity Into Film has a free (registration required) step-by-step filmmaking guide, designed for primary schools, which will take you through all the stages of filmmaking:


Films which tackle the theme of bullying: Into Film has a detail list of resources and film guides for both primary and secondary pupils

Watch See You Tomorrow, the film discussed in the article above. 


Watch Aoife Donnelly and Avril Whelan (teachers, Granton Primary School) and Jamie Chambers (ECA, Film Education Journal) discussing how they used film in the classroom both for See You Tomorrow and beyond, with contributions from some of the children who participated in the process.

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