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Little Things, The — Reina Webster, 2004

George is alone on her fourteenth birthday, having been rejected by her mother and chased out of the local mall by security. Miserable and lonely, she invites her six-year-old neighbour, Tama, to come round for cake and bourbon. On discovering it’s her birthday he sneaks off to wrap up a present for George. This simple act of kindness breaks through George’s defences: it’s the little things that count.

Use our video tutorial on 'The Little Things' to help you get started: Lesson example - The Little Things.

Classroom Activities

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  • Sound On/Vision Off. What do pupils think the film will be about? Encourage predictions and explanations. Watch the opening sequence. Do the predictions change?
  • How many times and in how many ways do we hear the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune? What effect does the tune have on George and on us as viewers?
  • Play the first minute of the film. What devices have been used to mark George as the main protagonist? (For instance, draw out that the camera follows George; she sits higher in the frame than the other girl, who sits on a crate; the camera takes George's point of view, looking down on her friend; we see close-ups of George but not her friend).
  • Watch the film up to where George flings her skirt onto the washing line. Pause it there. Ask the class, in pairs, to list the devices used to demonstrate the girl’s isolation. Look for different shot types, composition and story events.
  • Watch the sequence at the washing line. We see four different shots: a long shot of the girl; the view from the balcony; a close-up of the girl; and the view up to the man. Discuss why the filmmaker chose those shots, in that sequence. You could let pupils think of questions they would ask the director to help them find the answer(s), and then choose one student to role-play the director in the hot-seat.
  • Look in detail at the four main locations: the yard; the house; the mall; the record shop. Discuss how does each location contributes to the development of the narrative.


  • Does this film remind you of similar experiences in your own life?
  • How important is shopping to modern life?
  • How important is music to you?
  • List the little things in life that you value; list three things that you talk about with friends.
  • Watch the pre-title opening sequence. Ask students how this compares with their own experience of spending time with friends.
  • Discuss feelings of loneliness and sadness.



  • Write a character profile of the main character George, focusing on her home/family life, what kind of person she is, what problems she faces and how she feels about them.
  • Play the whole film to the end. Then ask pupils to write one sentence explaining what the film is about.
  • Write a poem or short story titled ‘My Favourite Birthday’ or ‘The Little Things’.
  • Translate the film into a newspaper article that highlights the issues of child neglect.


  • Write and film a special report for a feature in a news broadcast (TV or radio). Plan and direct the news broadcast and decide on what methods would be appropriate to reach a chosen target audience.
  • Ask pupils to list the places they go to/spend time with their friends; how they would describe these places in terms of the music and environment. Then ask how they would film one of the places. Consider time of day, weather, camera positions, perspectives, movement and sound - diegetic and non-diegetic. Ask students to write the words and phrases on sticky notes to make a word wall for future use.


  • After viewing the sequence at the end on the settee with George and Tama, hot-seat a pupil as George (or Tama) and invite the class to ask questions to explore the thoughts going on in the character’s head at that moment.
  • Carry out a walk of consciousness to re-enact various scenes from the film (e.g. the scene where George returns to the mall while everyone else is leaving, or the scene where she goes back to the empty house and finds the card). Position students in two lines facing each other; one side is positive, the other side is negative. As George walks down the centre, students voice the thoughts they think are going through George’s head.


  • Choose pieces of music for a ‘mix-tape’ that would cheer George up.


  • Research life in New Zealand and Maori culture. Compile a PowerPoint presentation or moving image essay.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-043-C
Resource Rights Holder The New Zealand Film Commission
Project Ref MVS-05
Year of Production 2004
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Literacy and English, Religious and Moral Education, Social Studies
Director Reina Webster
Country of Origin New Zealand
Medium / Content Live Action, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Feelings, Relationships, Culture / Society, Identity / Self, Poverty / Class
Clip Length 12:00
Clip Length 12:00
Age Group S1-S3, S4-S6