The theme of Metamorphosis captured in the festival advertisement was adopted, as a symbol of the power of film to change us on a deep and somewhat primal level and also inspired ResourceLink to review and refresh the way the festival was structured and delivered, in particularly the way in which we engaged participants in their professional learning. Adopting a project based approach to replace a traditional model of professional learning about film making and engaging with new media sources to share and reflect about film. This post will review the 2012 ResourceLink Film Festival sharing the successes and learning’s from the journey.
While the Film Festival has always been about promoting the use of film in education, an increasingly important part of the program is the student produced films section. This is in recognition of the fact that students now live in a multimodal world, where economic, social, cultural, global and technological changes have reconstructed concepts of literacy, reading, writing and text (Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.1).
If we adopt the definition of literacy put forward by Luke and Freebody in 2009, we see that
‘Literacy is the flexible and sustainable mastery of a repertoire of practices with the texts of traditional and new communications technologies via spoken, print and multimedia’ (p.9, cited in Anstey and Bull, 2011). Therefore, in order to be considered ‘literate’ in the 21st century, students must be able to access a range of resources, including knowledge of
- text and context
- multimedia and technology, and the semiotic systems they employ
- aesthetics and design
- social and cultural diversity
- critical literacy
(Anstey and Bull, 2011, p.8).
Involving students in the planning, scripting, filming, editing and producing of their own films provides many opportunities for each of these resources to be developed.
Traditionally the film festival has hosted a two day course on short film making in conjunction with a screening of student produced short films. This year the ResourceLink team asked the question how might the student produced films be enhanced through ‘on the job’ professional training and support? What was found was a significant level of diversity and creativity was shown through the films and more so allowed students and teachers to achieve beyond their own expectations.
Working with teachers and students the team of ResourceLink supported the development of seven short films from three schools. Our support was three fold: engaging and extending the pre-production phase of film making, supporting filming and providing support in post-production.
This phase began by exposing teachers and students to as many diverse films, reflecting on the stories and messages and examining the technical aspects of the film such as, camera angles, music, costuming and editing techniques. It was in this phase that students engaged in critical reflection and discussion. After grounding students in some film theory, students could then begin unpacking the theme in great depth and begin to develop the concepts of their own films. This for the most part was done without much support from ResourceLink. Once students had landed their concept it was time for the students to develop a script and to begin storyboarding. Constantly reviewing and adapting their work until they were ready to film.
Supporting participants as they tackle this phase was perhaps the most fun and tiring phase of the project. This saw participants to reflect and adapt on the fly as they encountered problems such as poor weather, absent actors, and malfunctioning equipment. This saw many participants to consider quite creative and clever solutions.
Again supporting participants through this process the team from ResourceLink supported the production teams as they sourced creative commons materials to add the extra professional touches to their works.
The students were thrilled to receive an award acknowledging their movie-making, and also enjoyed a creative activity that saw them create their own origami butterfly, which they labelled with one word or a phrase to describe how the movie making process had changed them. These butterflies formed part of the decoration for the teacher film festival to be held later that afternoon.
As the teachers arrived to a delicious afternoon tea provided by Spoon Deli, they were delighted to see our theme of metamorphosis depicted in the hundreds of origami butterflies that decorated the room. During the evening screening session, we were very lucky to have secured Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor, who provided us with commentary and insight from a non-educational perspective.
During the evening, the teachers were invited to share their thoughts and opinions of the films, and how they might use these or similar short films in their classroom via a BackChannel established using TodaysMeet. The teachers also had the opportunity to post their thoughts to a broader audience via Twitter, using the hash tag #morph2012.
Using a tool such as TodaysMeet allowed the viewers to share their thoughts at the moment that they had them, rather than try to save them until a plenary session after the screenings. By posting to the TodaysMeet stream, teachers were also more willing to add their thoughts, as they did not have to stand up and publicly share them to the large group. A selection of the TodaysMeet stream can be seen on the right.
The films selected this year were based not only on the theme ‘Metamorphosis’, but also were selected to showcase a variety of film formats and delivery methods. As an encouragement to teachers to consider the quality multimedia available on YouTube, the evening began with the showing of a selection of short films from the Tropfest Short Film Festival YouTube channel. These ranged from the humourous (Boo), to the reflective (My Constellation), from the challenging (RGB) to the inspiring (One Thing).
These short films were followed by another inspiring short film, The Butterfly Circus. Winner of several international awards, including the Clint Eastwood Filmmaker Award, The Butterfly Circus is a beautiful story of how a young man with what seems to be overwhelming disabilities (he has no limbs) is given the opportunity to dream of a future he thought would never be possible.
The possibilities for the way this film could be used in the classroom are endless. As teachers observed, it could be seen as a re-interpretation of the Easter Story, and the role of the Showman could be seen as a Jesus figure, taking those who had been cast off by society and showing them their beauty and their worth. The direct links to the theme Metamorphosis were unmistakeable, even to the point of the presence of a butterfly making its transformation just as the human characters did also.
After a delicious hot meal from AbFab Catering and great discussion over dinner, the teachers returned to the lolly buffet to stock up on readiness for the final movie.
The feature film of the night, We Bought a Zoo tells the true story of a family who bought and rebuilt a rundown zoo. Although the Hollywood treatment neglects some of the real life challenges of such a purchase (in the film, the decision to buy is made on the spot, whereas in real life, the process of purchasing took over 2 years), the film does focus on the metamorphosis of the family, as they move from a place of darkness and grief into a new life full of possibility.
The film was then reviewed in a ‘Margaret and David’ style (from ABC’s At the Movies), as Kathleen Noonan and Fr Anthony Mellor discussed the themes of the movie. Of note was the use of the soundtrack, and the way that movie and music can sometimes be used to engage students in areas where more direct approaches might fail. Also discussed was how rich, quality media is available in many forms, some of which are listed below.
The evening was wrapped up by our Senior Education Officer, Kerry Rush. A great day, a fun evening and a lot of learning sums up the Film Festival once more for another year.
Bull, Geoff, and Michele Anstey. Evolving pedagogies: reading and writing in a multimodal world. Carlton South, Vic.: Education Services Australia, 2010. Print.