Take seven: and action

Judy Mackie

As film premieres go, this one seemed low key. There were no red carpets, glittering gowns or A-list celebrities. But when the lights dimmed in Peterhead Community Theatre and the first title appeared, no Hollywood blockbuster could hope to generate such a highly-charged atmosphere.

It was a magical moment for the pupils of nine Aberdeenshire primary schools, here to celebrate the culmination of one of the most exciting years of their lives. For months they had crafted scripts and storyboards, selected locations, perfected camera angles and persuaded parents and members of their communities to act as extras - and now, for the first time, they would see the results on screen. Seven short films were to be showcased to teachers, friends, relatives, film professionals and local dignitaries. The excitement was palpable.

From the Mountains to the Sea was the second curriculum-linked schools film-making project to be run by the pioneering Media Unit of Aberdeenshire Council. The first, involving local secondary schools, led to one of the short films being screened at the Leeds International Film Festival three years ago. Now it was the turn of a younger group of children, aged eight to 12.

Each film elicited a thunderous response, as breathless anticipation transformed into noisy celebration for each group in turn. An impressed Richard Stroud, chairman of Aberdeenshire Council's education and recreation committee, said the project linked directly to A Curriculum for Excellence. "Among the many skills involved are creative thinking, writing, reading, talking and listening, and the expressive arts," he said.

Jennifer Radford, P67 teacher at Hatton Cruden Primary, said the whole year was an enterprise project. "The children worked in multi-school groups with actors, scriptwriters and other professional film-makers, and each group took responsibility for their own stage of the process. Towards the end they realised the crucial part that each element played in the overall production."

* A DVD featuring all seven films will shortly be available, pound;10, from Aberdeenshire Media Unit: 01467 633437; mediaunit@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

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Judy Mackie

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