Student films provide lens on the future
Posted: 25 February 2019
Reference #: 1H9rSV
By creating films about the issues they are passionate about, students are sharing their voices while also learning key skills.
The Someday Challenge encourages students to address the four pillars of sustainability through film.
Students from all over the country have taken up the challenge to address the four pou, or pillars, of sustainability – social, human, economic or environmental – through film.
Students from Long Bay Primary School won the Upstart Magazine Storytelling Award for their film Te Riri o Mataaho.
The Someday Challenge empowers rangatahi, or youth, to promote sustainability and create change with film. The annual film competition draws an average of 150 entries of many genres. Each film is less than five minutes and needs to address one of the four pillars.
For their entry, Long Bay Primary School students created Te Riri o Mataaho, a film that explored and retold a local Māori legend. Teacher Aaron Joyes says the class was studying Auckland’s volcanoes as part of its science unit at the time.
“The Auckland Museum came out and saw us and provided us with pūrākau [mythological traditions] around how the volcanoes were created according to Māori lore.”
This visit inspired the Year 6 class to share the story further and promote the need to sustain Māori culture.
“Everybody knows that the plates came together, there was this massive volcanic event that happened around Auckland over a period of time and the different rangitoto, the different volcanoes, were created according to science.
“We realised that not many people know the Māori understanding of that creation, so we wanted to share that and keep that information out there.”
During workshops students collaborate to create a short film from scratch. The level of engagement is very high.
Online TV channel
This is not the students’ first foray into the world of visual communication, however. The class also operates an online TV channel called LBPTV (Long Bay Primary TV) to share work with whānau and community.
LBPTV is now in its fifth year. The class covers school events and world news in a six- or seven-minute video every few weeks.
“The whole idea really behind that was to get them motivated to read and then to rewrite the information,” says Aaron.
“For example, they might be doing the world news section. They’ll go onto Kiwikids News; they’ve got to read up, find a couple of stories, identify the key points in that story, write them down, then rewrite those key points in their own words.
“Then they present LBPTV to the class, so we film it in front of a live audience and then we put everything into iMovie, put in captions, we do cutaways, we do greenscreen, we do picture on picture – just like real news would happen.”
Students also made ginger beer as a science project and created a 90-second advertisement to promote their product.
“Last year we had zombies walking through the school; we had a ghost join them as ghostbusters – lots of really cool, motivating stuff for the kids. Underneath it all is lots of learning; they can’t pick up the camera until the writing’s done, the reading’s done, and the collaboration is done.”
While the whole class was involved with creating Te Riri o Mataaho, four students in particular ran the project. These students applied for leadership roles in filming, green screen effects, producing/directing and narrating.
“We went through essentially a job interview with them. They had to come to me with ‘this is the job I like, and the reason why I’ve got merit for this job is I have this selection of skills’, or it could just be simply ‘I want to learn these skills’.”
While the students also learned about filmmaking, local Māori legends, writing and reading, their biggest learning outcome was understanding collaboration, says Aaron.
“For example, Scott knew how to do all of the green screening; his primary job was to teach Dylan and make sure Dylan did the learning and the green screening. Dylan’s job, conversely, was not just to do the green screening but was also to ensure he explained his vision when he collaborated with Scott.
“So really, the big learning was ‘how can you create this really cool product or really good learning outcome in a collaboratively smooth working team?’.”
The success of LBPTV in motivating the students is almost palpable and a big part of its success is the support and encouragement given by the management at Long Bay Primary school, says Aaron.
To watch Te Riri o Mataaho visit www.theoutlookforsomeday.net/films/2018/001.(external link)
To see more of LBPTV, visit http://lbptv.blogspot.com(external link)
The Someday Challenge is part of a wider project called The Outlook for Someday. Spokesperson Anna Clements says an overall look at the Challenge films provides great insight into what young people in Aotearoa are concerned about.
“The dominant theme of 2018 was screen addiction; in 2017 it was suicide … we believe that with a little guidance and encouragement, most young people have the ability to identify their story and turn it into film,” she says.
“The wonderful thing about film today is that almost anyone can get involved. Many of our participants use their smartphones, and almost all have access to iPads or cameras through their schools.”
Each winning title from The Someday Challenge is entered into at least one international film festival.
Canterbury schoolboy Marco Varray (right) attended a Christchurch workshop and went on to create a winning documentary, Sustainable People of Banks Peninsula.
Free filmmaking workshops
As well as the challenge, The Outlook for Someday(external link) also offers free one and two-day filmmaking workshops around the country. Led by industry professionals, the workshops are open to school students aged 11–18 and their teachers/social workers. All attendees participate in the filmmaking process, from ideas and storyboards through to scripting, shooting and editing.