Lights, Camera, Action! at Ponthir

With it’s emphasis on creative learning, the new Curriculum for Wales challenges teachers to put the pupils in charge, allowing them to lead their own learning experience. This puts experience at the forefront, over traditional classroom based teaching.

Beginning the school year, the children at Ponthir Primary School came up with the theme Lights, Camera, Action, on which they would work creatively through the autumn term. Lights, Camera, Action! is a brilliant project title because it mirrors the new Curriculum framework of experience, respond, create. Experience, be it a visit to a museum or gallery, watching a film or performance, a walk through town, is our inspiration, it gives us those light bulb moments. We respond by making the preparatory work, writing, sketching, preparing any tools or equipment we need. Then we create, we immerse ourselves in the making of an artwork or performance.

Having express a keen interest in finding out about Welsh professionals working in the film an TV industry, the pupils at Ponthir were excited to experience working with a real one. To make is happen we awarded the school a Seed Innovation grant, and the school commissioned the documentary film-maker David Evans to come to the school and share his expertise with pupils and staff.

David provided the experience of documentary film making by showing the school his work, his working methods and demonstrating the equipment he uses. The school is lucky to already possess all the equipment required to make films, including iPads, Chromebooks and a green screen room, this is important in making the experience sustainable, allowing the school to continue to create work when the professional artist is not available.

In an introductory workshop the David helped the children and staff develop the core techniques needed to make their own films, including story telling and imaginative writing, working collaboratively, and the golden rules of documentary film making, expressed through interview and role play. The children explored how to create a compelling sound atmosphere by listening to audio clips with their eyes closed, focussing on what scenarios or characters the sound might inspire. The children particularly enjoyed learning how to choose the best angles, camera positioning and lighting.

The school celebrated their achievement the the inaugural PAFTA celebration (Ponthir Academy of Film and Television Awards). All the films were showcased in an assembly for pupils, staff, parents and the community during which polls were taken for the best films. Awards were given for best director, best scriptwriter, best documentary and many others.

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