If you are a regular reader of my blog then you'll know that almost every Saturday of the year I teach youngsters how to make movies. They range in age from 6 to 18 and so far there are 152 students in total. Quite a handful but great fun.
I pretty much judge myself how to teach them and we have a very flexible remit, the bottom line being that I need to improve their ability to act on camera and increase their confidence in front of camera. Throughout the year we achieve this through practical projects, usually just a few weeks long, but last year we embarked on six, high production value short films which we then entered into a film festival.
We started back in September 2015 on a blank sheet of paper. By Christmas they had developed scripts, cast parts and shot a few minutes of screen time. When we returned after the Christmas holidays it was full on production time. Normally I only get 50 minutes with each group, which isn't a lot of time to set up, rehearse, shoot and put everything away, so in January and into February we allocate a 3 hour slot to each group, morning and afternoon, over a three week period, to shoot extensive scenes. The scheduling is a headache, which I do for them in between weeks. By the start of March we were rerecording dialogue, ADR, and at the start of May we had the finished, polished films. It was my responsibility to edit the films, and to ease the pressure I edited the footage each week so that toward then end it was polishing and creating sound effects etc.
Well, we entered the films by the deadline at the start of June and heard nothing else. Until last week.
Astonishingly 252 films had been entered into the festival from the whole of the UK. There were three categories with three age groups and a total of 24 prizes in total. We knew we had produced the very best we could, but that was a big field to compete against.
Out of the six films we submitted, we won best film in three age groups, one in each category! Over 90 academies are operating in the UK, and the academy in Edinburgh won the most prizes. Needless to say I am very pleased and also very proud of the kids.
Here's a link (click on the picture) to one of the kids films on Vimeo, made by one of our teenage groups, called The Door:
Now we are faced with a new challenge. How to get almost 80 kids to London on a Sunday in November for the red carpet event at the Odeon Leicester Square.
Be careful what you wish for, as they say.