No Camera? No Problem!
Creative activities without using a camera
Sometimes you don’t have either the equipment or the time to go and shoot a film. Luckily there are lots of other things you can do to exercise those creative skills. The following list should get your creative juices flowing - and you can find dozens more in Film Literacy Activities
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 / Windows MovieMaker and create new films out of the original. You could also extract the soundtrack and play with it alone.
Other places you can find footage include the creative archives online at BFI, BBC, The Open University and British Pathe. You’ll find links to all of these and more on our useful links page.
Moving Image Essays
Using found footage, you could get your class making moving image 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 that can be cut together with extracts from films such as 'Anders-Artig', 'Little Pig is Flying', 'Second Helpings' and 'The Little Things'. The essay comes out like an edited film, with soundtrack and narration, if appropriate. We have a guide to Creating a Moving Image Essay.
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.
Storyboards are great for many moving image education exercises:
- analysing films in conjunction with Freeze Frame and Shots in Sequence;
- exploring key elements of screen language (such as understanding the different shot types used in film);
- planning moving image projects.
Most professional filmmakers actually visualise their film in a storyboard before they shoot so it is a moving image result in itself. Use our Storyboard Template for this.
Continuing the Story
This is a great writing exercise for understanding character and narrative. Choose a film from the Screening Shorts collection, pause it part-way through the story, and get your pupils to 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 resources section that you can print out for your class.
Prepare a multiple choice quiz about a chosen film. You could even offer prizes to the winners.
Choose a character from the film and encourage a pupil to take on the role. Let other pupils 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 rather than ones that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no". "Why?", "How?", "What happened after?" and "How did it feel?" type questions are best.
Re-enactments & Role-play
Select a scene from the film and ask pupils to re-enact it in groups as appropriate. 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 multimedia presentation, perhaps using PowerPoint. You can embed audio files and video files in PowerPoint presentations too. A particularly good use of multimedia presentations is to get your pupils speaking in public. 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.