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I Love My Nails (Katherine Freeman, 2000)

This documentary focuses on two nail salons and two of their most loyal clients. Although the women are very different, they clearly share an obsession: both women appear to place far more importance on their nails than on any other aspect of their life. The salon employees abstain from passing any comment or judgement during the film, with one exception, when one woman acknowledges, ‘Nails are like drugs. Once you start, to stop is a problem.’

Classroom Activities

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Questions

  1. How many colours were there in the opening 15 seconds of the film?

  2. Did the ladies in the film seem to think there was anything wrong with them getting their nails done and spending time or money on looking good?

  3. What do you think is the tone of this film? Light-hearted or serious?

  4. Does the film seem to take any stance or point of view on the subject matter?

  5. Would this film tempt you to have your nails manicured and painted?

  6. The women in the film are mainly middle-aged. What do you think about older women painting their nails, wearing trendy clothes and so on?

  7. What is ageism? Are you aware that ageism exists? Can you think of examples of different kinds of ageism?

Watching

BEFORE WATCHING

  • Cover the screen and listen to the soundtrack before showing the film for the first time. When the sound of the beach fades in, ask the students what they think the film is about. Discuss why they think this and how the sounds make them feel.

WHILE WATCHING

  • How many different shots can you see in the film? Look for examples of close-ups, long shots and medium shots.

  • Discuss the narrative effect of moving the camera in films. Look for examples of camera pans, tracking shots and handheld shots in this film. Discuss why they are used here and what effect it has in the storytelling.

  • Freeze the film when the close-up of the beach scene is full frame. Does this seem like a realistic image in the context of what has been seen before in the film? Why has the filmmaker chosen to show this?

  • Telescoping and shortening time is a constant element in the storytelling of this film. Look for examples of transitions and editing that indicate a passage of time or a linking of ideas in the subject matter.

  • Discuss how film transitions and editing compares to written prose when a story needs to indicate, for instance, a passage of time or moments in the story when things ‘move on to the next part’.

  • Look for instances where sound and ‘spot sound’ is used to create atmosphere and meaning.

Analysing

CULTURE AND EXPERIENCE

  • Imagine you are a customer having your nails painted and you are really anticipating the experience, looking forward to it as a special event. Describe how this makes you feel and why you really enjoy it.

DEBATE

  • Discuss the following statement in relation to the film: “There is no harm in having your nails painted, it is just a bit of fun.”

  • Discuss the following statement in relation to the film: “Painted nails look cheap and nasty.”

  • Discuss the following statement in relation to the film: “Having your nails done is an expensive indulgence that is wrong when so many people struggle to make ends meet.”

  • Discuss the following statement in relation to the film: “People who have painted nails do it for attention rather than for pleasure.”

Creative

WRITE

  • Write a story about an elderly person who breaks convention in some way.

  • Using the metaphor of a sweet shop – likening the painted nails to special treats – write a poem that describes the rows and rows of colourful pots. Think about shades of colour and what they might represent and how colours affect mood.

FILMMAKING

  • Using a microphone, record an alternative soundtrack that totally changes the narrative and the atmosphere of the film (could be voiceover and/or music).

  • Imagine the film is to be recreated as an advert for a nationally famous nail salon. Market the salon by planning an advertising campaign that will include a billboard poster for major city centres and a 90-second TV commercial. Storyboard and script the commercial and design a poster.

DRAW

  • Design some artistic images for new nails similar to those in the film.

  • From a selection of stills from the film, choose one that particularly appeals to you. Using the still as a central image, build a collage of colour and associated images to create narrative and meaning.

RESEARCH

  • As a homework exercise, ask pupils to interview a parent or grandparent to discover what they think about modern youth culture.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-073-C
Resource Rights Holder Ulrike Julie Hensel
Project Ref RLS-03
Year of Production 2000
Genre Documentary
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Literacy and English, Media, Personal and Social Education
Who Katherine Freeman (Filmmaker)
Country of Origin UK
Medium / Content Live Action, Non-Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Obsession, Self expression, Glamour, Community, Gender
Clip Length 10:00