Creative Film Literacy Activities
Creative Film Literacy Activities
Sometimes you don’t have either the equipment or the time to go and shoot a film. or you want to evaluate what has been learned about theme, genre, character, storyline, setting, film language… in a different way. Luckily there are lots of ways that you can exercise those creative muscles.
These activities will get you started, and you can find dozens more in our Film Literacy Activities resource.
Working with ‘found footage’ and ‘found sound’ are great ways for groups to practice editing and storytelling before moving on to their own ambitious scripted projects. Screening Shorts is obviously one place to source found footage: all the films in the collection are downloadable so you can import them into iMovie and create new films out of the originals. You could also extract the soundtrack and play with it alone.
You can visit our sister site Scotland on Screen for archive film resources; and other places you can find footage include the creative archives online at BFI, BBC, The Open University and British Pathé. You’ll find links to all of these on our useful links page.
Using found footage, you could get your class making screen essays. These are pieces of research and writing that use audio-visuals instead of words. You might, for instance, choose a topic like “exclusion” and research some factual footage (or a more artistic approach, like a collage) that can be cut together with extracts from films such as 'Otherwise [Anders-Artig]', 'Little Pig is Flying [Lilla Grisen Flyger]', 'CODA' and 'The Little Things'. Or you could choose a film language technique like "jump cuts" and compile an essay with examples of these. The essay comes out like an edited film, with soundtrack and narration, if appropriate.
We have a guide to Making a Screen Essay that will guide you through the process.
Storyboards are great for planning screen projects, but also for other screen education exercises. Pupils can use them to analyse films in conjunction with Freeze Frame and Shots in Sequence, explore key elements of screen language (such as understanding the different shot types used in film), or examine colour palettes by colouring storyboard images with warm, cold, dark gothic or bright comic book colours.
You can use our Storyboard Template for this.
Comic Strips and Photo Stories
Get your pupils thinking about narrative in a visual way by turning a creative or emotional writing exercise into a comic strip or photo story. These can be drawn or compiled with still photographs. There are also many free software packages that enable you to do this.
Prepare a multiple choice quiz about a chosen film, or split the class into groups, get each group to choose a different film and ask them to make a quiz for the rest of the class.
Choose different characters from the film and encourage pupils to take on the role. Let the class ask questions to find out more about them. To begin with, you might want to prepare some questions that could be asked to ease the pupils into this exercise. Ask your class what they would like to find out about the character and what happened in the film that they would like to talk to the character about. Try to encourage open questions: "Why...?", "How...?", "What happened after?", "How did it feel?" etc.
Re-enactments and Role-play
Select a scene from the film and ask pupils to re-enact it in groups (without watching the scene again). Afterwards, talk about everyone's different interpretations of the scene. Or you could role-play two characters (maybe ones who don't meet in the film) and let the "actors" play out an encounter between the two.
Podcasts are huge these days and they are a great place for people to express their own personalities and articulate their own views. Get pupils to record their own podcasts: it could be a film review show, an interview with characters from the film, or a debate about a moral or social issue found within the film.
An alternative to video is to make a PowerPoint presentation, perhaps with embedded audio and video files, and get pupils to deliver them to the class. You could set them a research task or report writing exercise, and get them to present their findings to the whole class with live commentary and slideshow.
Learning through play is not just for Early Years pupils - you'll find your senior pupils can gain just as much from seemingly simple and fun activities. Consider things like making (or bringing in) puppets to put on a puppet show related to the film, dressing up like characters from the film to recreating a scene or create a new scene, or making a set for the film or a character using art materials such as crayons, scissors, paint brushes, play dough and paint.
And, of course, there is no limit to the creative writing tasks you can give to your class. They could write an invitation to one of the characters explaining why you would like them to visit your school, or a page in a character's diary, or a personal account of the events from a character's point of view in the first person. They could also choose a film from the Screening Shorts collection, pause it part-way through and imagine what will happen next. Alternatively, choose a film with an ambiguous or surprise ending – then write the sequel. We have a Continuing the Story worksheet in our Classroom Resources section that you can print out for your class.
Other suggested activities
- Create a mood board of pictures/colours that represent some aspect of the film.
- Take a written description of a setting and try adding sound descriptions (or practical effects).
- Draw flash cards of new vocabulary learned while studying the film.
- Draw outlines of main characters. Inside the outline could be words that describe the true character; outside the outline words to describe what other people think of them.