Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time to Talk with Camera in Hand

Yesterday I worked with a group of 6 squirming, active, interested boys as they are now at the stage of filming their anti-bullying themed public service announcement video.

My involvement with these boys, as a part of a larger group of about 60 middle schoolers has been great. The lesson had a lot going for it for boy writers.

First we started last week by brainstorming and writing scripts. Small chunks, short sentences and they had to "solve it in 6 frames". This solve it in six method is a method of problem - solution that I learned from Marco Torres a few years back. This short clear method of storyboarding makes the task more manageable. (watch the video in this post)

Second, it was hands on and an activity (the filming) where standing up and "acting" is allowed. Yesterday, I took a few moments to show the group how to load and unload a Mini-DV tape into one of our Canon cameras. Each of the boys took a turn to load the tape and then eject it. They got a chance to hold the camera, and get a feel for it before filming began.

As we walked to some of the locations for the filming, I remembered how important "the social" is for our boy learners. They were talking about how and where the scenes would take place. "In the hallway here, then the next scene is in the library", I overheard them say.

Who knows what this experience will bring about for these lads. Perhaps a new pleasure in the writing of a script, or the operation of a camera. Maybe one of the boys will become interested in film, or editing when we begin to import our footage tomorrow.

What I do know is that small groups, chunking and hands on, were the order of the day.

I wonder what I'll learn next time.

Video Credit: From Marco Torres Full Day Presentation at NECC 2006 in San Diego


  1. Great ideas!
    As I started reading I really questioned if this is something my boy learners would be able to manage (my class for students with behaviour exceptionalities has 6 boys who constantly struggle with this type of assignment). The solve it in 6 method seems like something that I should really look up. Do you know where I could find more information about this one?
    Thanks for the post and idea!

  2. Hello Jeff and thanks for your comment!

    I have uploaded a short clip to this post about "saying it in six". Granted Marco uses a couple of more frames to illustrate the story in this clip. I coined the say it in six phrase as a way to scaffold the process and as a good first step for beginning or first time film makers.

    Also, my experience (the other day) with these boy writers (this case using film) was challenging while at the same time rewarding. This was a squirmy group. I had developed a rapport with these boys during two previous sessions and the student to teacher ration was good. There were 6 boys working with me. A good ratio.

    Anyway, I have lots more ideas for you on working with your boys if you'd like to make contact. It has taken me about 25 years to refine my methods but now I can say, give me any group of young lads and I'll work with them to motivate and engage them using audio and visual.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

    Take care.