Pupils get a taste of Hollywood

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Our children have been getting the taste of life in Hollywood by making their own films, writes Natasha Griggs, deputy head and Year 6 teacher at St George’s CofE Primary School in Portsmouth..

We have been working with production company Millstream for a while now.

(l-r) Chloe Cheshire, Aga Lazicka, Ben Rendle, Owen Whiteaway and Laura Coombes recreate a murder scene from their latest film. ''Pupils form St George's Beneficial CofE School, Portsmouth, have created a film inspired by Les Miserables. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13165-319)

(l-r) Chloe Cheshire, Aga Lazicka, Ben Rendle, Owen Whiteaway and Laura Coombes recreate a murder scene from their latest film. ''Pupils form St George's Beneficial CofE School, Portsmouth, have created a film inspired by Les Miserables. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13165-319)

A couple of years ago we did some Shakespeare trailers with them. It worked very well and they have got an eye for what the children can do.

So we decided to film our own Hollywood-style crime dramas to help boost the children’s literacy skills in Years 5 and 6.

It was about use of literacy – speaking, listening and writing.

We wanted to try and bring in a real-life situation where the children had to put a pitch in to get the funding for it. So they had to pitch for the money.

We got in the headteacher and a couple of other people in so the children could pitch together. It was so they could get into the idea that these type of things don’t just happen – production companies need money to make a film.

They then had to wait for an email before they could get the go-ahead.

They wrote their own scripts, created individual plots for the characters and they did camera and lighting workshops.

They followed the film noir genre of the crime detective, and it was set in the 20s. It was all about building suspense.

They planned it all. We had four films made and the children each decided who would play what role, from actors to directors to producers.

We decided on different locations to film such as the tunnels at Fort Widley, Groundlings Theatre and Stansted House.

Some of the children got to do the editing and went to the studios to look at a company at work in a different geographical setting.

We then had a premiere at Action Stations in the dockyard where parents, governors and staff were all invited to exclusively watch the films.

After that we had our own awards ceremony for the children, handing out awards such as best director and best screenplay.

I started to see how it’s having an impact once they did their persuasive writing.

The narrative writing that they have got out of it is really empowering. They are learning but they aren’t registering that it’s work. We have children who are saying that they want to do work experience and they want to be a director.