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UCL film education journal - FINAL (JUST

A 16 Week Course of Practical Filmmaking with Secondary School Children in Portugal 


Realidades Ocultas. Dir. Mariana Sousa. 2019.

Short film production in educational contexts: a methodological proposal from the project “Olhar Pela Lente” 



This article describes a filmmaking project called ‘Olhar pela lente’ (Look Through the Lens) which took place in a state secondary school in northern Portugal in 2018. Over 16 weeks, working with 160 students, project tutors Pedro Alves and Ana Sofia Pereira worked alongside teachers on a structured programme which combined aspects of film theory, film analysis and film practice. The school had successfully applied for funding which enabled them to buy filmmaking equipment and by the end of the project students created 27 short films on a range of different topics.


‘Olhar plea lente' demonstrates that the school is an important meeting place between young people and film. By providing the necessary guidance and resources to create opportunities for practical filmmaking, the school is a catalyst for personal and collective student growth, fostering skills and knowledge that positions students as better informed, integrated and active citizens….it is important to motivate young people to be interested in cinema, to discover what it is, what it means to make films and what we can think, feel, express and live through them.’ - Alves and Pereira 


Key points to explore


The article provides a clear overview of a filmmaking project from start to finish, providing a useful model for teachers who would like to make films with their students. At the same time the authors do not shy away from describing the challenges involved and provide several key tips for readers to keep in mind. 

The authors describe: 

  • The unique benefits of schools as spaces for young people to encounter film and how ‘filmmaking and film literacy foster students’ motivation, engagement and productivity in terms of their relationship with their school and wider sociocultural environment.’ (pp.2-4)  

  • A clear timeline which can be used when planning your own filmmaking project. The article takes readers through the 16 weeks of the filmmaking course, and at points acts almost as a project diary, describing the weekly tasks and outcomes (pp.8-21) 

  • An emphasis on the importance of preparation, and also of valuing the filmmaking process as a learning experience just as much as the final result (p.7) 

  • Reflections on how the project could have been improved, particularly in terms of managing staff and students’ expectations, overall time management, and the challenges of working with less motivated students (pp.22-25) 

Listen to Pedro Alves and Ana Sofia Pereira discuss the challenges and opportunities of their high-school filmmaking project with Flip Kulakiewicz, Administrator at the Film Education Journal.

Ideas for the classroom 


​You don't need expensive cameras to make films with your students - they can be made on school iPads or smartphones! For a great guide to filmmaking with iPads, check out the free resource provided by Into Film (email registration required): 


Further resources and opportunities 

Four of the 26 films have been uploaded to the Portuguese film education platform Primeiro Plano, and can be accessed through the following link: The short film Hidden Realities is embedded at the bottom of the page.


For teachers based in Scotland who are keen to develop their filmmaking skills, a number of local community film organisations provide filmmaking workshops and courses. Try Screen Education Edinburgh: / GMAC Film (Glasgow) / or SHMU - Station House Media Unit (Aberdeen) 


Have you made a film with your class? Consider submitting it to a film festival for young filmmakers

Watch one of the films made as part of the 'Olhar pela lente' project.

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