Scene and done it

2nd May 2008 at 01:00
If you want to spark creativity in drama, get the cameras rolling. Hannah Frankel shines the spotlight on one extraordinary project
If you want to spark creativity in drama, get the cameras rolling. Hannah Frankel shines the spotlight on one extraordinary project

Drama can sometimes seem like a bit of an add-on; it's fun but it isn't a priority. Not so at Holy Trinity Primary School in Darwen, Lancashire, which put aside half a term to recreate and enact film scenes as part of its focus on creativity.

Every year group in the school took on a different theme loosely based on acting, China and film. Reception, for example, manoeuvred puppet heads and filmed them to explore their own version of Mulan, the Disney movie based on Chinese folklore. This also prompted them to draw paddy fields and look at Chinese food, writing and some basic language.

Year 6, meanwhile, made Plasticine and Lego animations, complete with scripts and voiceovers, while Year 5 acted out and filmed scenes from C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in an entirely white classroom. Year 3 filmed its own version of Harry Potter.

Every year benefited from a group of Year 6 peer mentors who were chosen to attend specialist out-of-school training about how to use Digi-Blu handheld cameras and stop-start photography.

Armed with their new skills and techniques, they were able to pass on their knowledge to other pupils, learning assistants and teachers. Every class was then able to video their drama with some degree of professionalism.

"Each year used digital imagery, which helped to capture their plays or animations plus improve ICT skills in the process," says Mark Standen, the headteacher.

Mark also recognised that the school needed to celebrate the high-quality work, completed in just four weeks, in an equally creative way. Showing the completed films in assembly simply wouldn't do. Hence, the Holy Trinity Oscars was born.

More associated with Hollywood fame and glamour, Mark could see no good reason why Holy Trinity couldn't follow suit. The resulting ceremony was a strictly black tie and ballgown affair, with the headteacher setting the tone in a dashing white tuxedo.

Parents were invited to a champagne reception, where they were greeted and shown around by pupils. They then had the chance to watch their children's films in the corresponding classroom- cum-cinema.

"It was a real celebration," says Mark. "The parents adored it and were asking us when the next Oscar night would be. Meanwhile the kids were dragging themselves in even though many of them were suffering from a nasty virus doing the rounds."

Teachers said that the whole experience lifted their spirits and brought the community together. It was such a success that the next creative project is already being planned.

"On the move", the next theme, will see pupils going into town and using visual and digital cameras to record and act out different aspects from the community.

"This whole-school project is at the cutting edge of experiential learning," explains Mark. "Pupils and teachers love making learning real and having something substantial to show for their efforts at the end of the day."

YOU CAN DO IT TOO

- Search the internet for free sound effects to go with your animations, or get pupils to create and record their own theme music.

- Look at magazines, cartoon clips and illustrations to generate ideas for animations.

- Consider installing animation software packages on to computers such as Art Attack - Comic Creator or Kid Pix Studio Deluxe.

- Stress to pupils animation is a performing art not a graphic art, so creative acting skills are more important than artistic skills.

- Visit www.filmeducation.orgprimaryanimationindex.html.

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