Thursday, May 23, 2024
Starting a School Film Club

Starting A School Film Club

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 5-11

I started running an after-school Film Club. This was linked to the national FilmClub (now known as Into Film) scheme, which offers support for schools to set up their own clubs.

The FilmClub site explains that the project “gives pupils and teachers a chance to explore the world of film through after-school film clubs. With free weekly screenings, online reviewing, industry events and hands-on support, FILMCLUB inspires, excites and opens up new avenues for learning.”

When I first heard about the club, I was really keen to get started. Personally, I really enjoy watching films at home and at the cinema, and I’ve also used film successfully in the classroom for many years. When I taught Year Six in the past, we ran lots of film projects where the children set up their own production companies, planning / scripting / storyboarding / filming / editing their own films. We then had a prestigious award ceremony (open to friends and families) where awards and prizes were given to the children based on a range of categories. This was one of the most rewarding things that I have been involved in at school, so I was extremely keen to begin our first FilmClub.

The FilmClub training session was really interesting, and it gave me lots of ideas for our club. So much so that I came home full of enthusiasm, and I created a mind map with the things that I wanted to think about before starting our club:

Film Club Mind Map

Download the full mind map below.

As you can see from the Mind Map, I had a lot of ideas! I decided to start the club with a small group initially and then open it up to larger groups of children in the future. So, our first club took the following format:

  • Location – My classroom… this was the most sensible place to run the club as it is easy for me to move around furniture without affecting other members of staff and their own clubs / activities.
  • Seating – The children were allowed to use our normal classroom furniture. I’d like to buy some bean bags as time goes by, but these can be expensive. FilmClub had a budget which schools can use in order to buy items for their club, but I think that schools have to be seen to be running the club regularly (with children writing reviews on their site) before they can make requests. I set up the adult chairs in the classroom as ‘VIP seating’, which children will be allowed to use as a reward each week.
  • Age group – Year 6 (aged 10/11) initially… I’d like to open this up to younger year groups in the future. However, doing this could then affect two things… a) the types / age ratings of films that we watch and b) the location of the club… if more members join, there won’t be room for them all!
  • Timings – One of my concerns about having an after school Film Club was the ability to show an entire film during each session. Many modern films are around two hours, which would mean that our club would finish at around 5.30 each week. This was out of the question as the school gates are shut at that time, so we would all need to be out of the building by then. So, I decided to end each session at 4.45. The FilmClub site let you sort films by duration, so it was easy to order films which would fit into the length of time available. However, we could also watch longer films in more than one session. This wasn’t ideal, but it did allow us to watch the film in two parts with a bit of spare time to write the reviews online.
  • Food / Drink – I wanted to try and set up a ‘cinema atmosphere’ in the classroom. This was easy enough to do as we could use my class Smartboard and sound system and also use the blinds to make the room dark. I bought some popcorn and squash which the children could enjoy during the film.

Activities – During our first session, we carried out three main activities…

  • After explaining a little about the club, I showed a two-minute trailer for FilmClub. This was found on the DVD that was given as part of the training session and it showed short clips from a number of films. The children were challenged to identify the films shown, and the ones who scored the most were allowed to sit in the VIP seating! Thanks to lots of teachers on Twitter who helped me to work out the answers beforehand!
  • The children then chose which short film they wanted to watch. They chose ‘Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death’, which is also one of my favourites!
  • Finally, and most importantly, the children registered themselves on the FilmClub website. This was quite easy, although one or two initially had trouble setting up usernames and passwords which met the requirements of the site (no spaces, minimum numbers of characters etc.).

Once registered, the children found it incredibly easy to use the site. Within 15 minutes, they had rated and reviewed lots of different films. They had also added a number of movies to their ‘Wishlist’. As the club leader, it is really easy for me to look at the children’s reviews. All of the wishlist results are also collated so that I can see the most popular films.

I was really impressed with the FilmClub service. They provided lots of free resources as well as template letters to give to parents and pupils. It was useful to show them how to find new films… as I wanted to give the children the opportunity to watch films that they haven’t seen before, as well as the ones that everyone knows and loves. The site also had sections which list films according to particular themes (e.g. ‘The Victorians’, ‘Ice and Snow’, ‘Dreams’ etc.), and each film had an ‘Adventurer Rating’ which highlights some of the hidden gems that they might not know already.


Film Club Mind Map

Film Club Mind Map

Download File

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