Dream machine - structuring stories on film

A vivid imagination and a desire to give children with special needs the chance to explore their creative side has inspired Bob to use ICT to open up the world of art and drama for his pupils.

Mark Reid, teacher training officer from the British Film Institute, says many teachers feel inclined to give pupils the digital camera equipment straight away.

However, Mark says: "What's unusual about Bob is he understands how to show kids the structure of film. He takes an active role in planning the work. He leads the processes but pupils make the input."

Before handing pupils camera equipment, Bob spends several lessons teaching the stages of film sequencing.

Story sequencing

Many of Bob's pupils are not used to making independent decisions. Bob develops pupils' decision-making by asking them to put in the correct sequence six still photographs of someone washing a glass.

Moving image sequencing

Bob presents the group with a sequence of five movie clips from a digital video on the iMac's iMovie editing software. Pupils have to put the clips into the correct sequence, which introduces them to linear editing.

Advanced moving image sequencing

Bob introduces the class to a more abstract sequence of around 10 clips on the iMac that make up a short story. He says: "I throw in a couple of red herring clips as well to throw them off and also show them how different groups can make a very different story, just by using another sequence."

Film planning

Bob spends a couple of lessons working with pupils on creating storyboards in detail, using the iMac, camera equipment and TV clips to demonstrate methods and styles. He also looks at planning the shot and covers the language of film, camera angles, scripting the story, plus deciding who should play which role and when. The roles of director and actor are rotated.

Short movie making: The class (maximum nine pupils) makes a short film as an introduction to digital cameras and editing software. The film should be one minute long and the story should have a twist. Pupils may be given an opening - the rest is up to them.


Editing on the iMac can take several lessons, with pupils taking it in turns to use software or directing someone else according to physical ability.

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