MAKE MOVIES THIS SUMMER
Are you looking for activities to get your kids excited this summer? Parents take note - there’s an unexpected new kid on the block: movie-making.
Until recently, movie-making courses haven’t been on the radar for most parents. Traditionally, the menu of summer activities includes sports, music, technology or drama (which means stage-based theatre). But in a digital age, all that is changing, and this summer kids as young as 8 can take part in filmmaking courses and camps. Now no one has to miss out on the “ACTION!”
But making movies is expensive, isn’t it? You need big crews, budgets, months of preparation, stunts, studios, loads of complicated equipment and overpaid divas demanding celery sticks. Making movies isn’t something kids can get involved in, right?
So far so…wrong. Ten years ago perhaps, but advances in technology and the growth of organisations like Young Film Academy, a London-based provider on a mission to help kids and young people aged 5-18 make movies, mean that’s no longer the case.
“Kids love movies. It’s that simple”, says James Walker, a screenwriter and film producer and Young Film Academy’s founding director. “Ask almost any child or teenager aged 5-18 if they want to make or star in a real movie and their eyes light up. The whole world of movies sparks their imaginations.”
Founded over 10 years ago, Young Film Academy has roots in the professional UK film industry, and to date the YFA team has helped over 75,000 aspiring actors and filmmakers aged 5-18 complete and screen their first films.
“Movies have a kind of magic. We feel it when we watch them” says James. “But to be part of the team creating one? That’s something very special.”
And why not get started early? Steven Spielberg made his first movie aged 12. Mozart composed his first music aged 5. The glass floor has been officially shattered and Young Film Academy now partners with the British Film Institute (BFI) to find and nurture emerging UK talent.
But not every child will want to make films for a living. So what are the benefits of filmmaking as an activity at an early age? “Making movies is a creative team sport” says James. “Filmmaking takes the best elements from sport, drama, music and technology and combines them into something uniquely creative. And at the end of it, there’s a finished product that kids can share with their friends and keep for years to come. Our young filmmakers are very proud of their movies, and so they should be!”
It’s true that for a Youtube generation, learning practical filmmaking and performance skills has more relevance than ever before. With the world filling up with screens, it’s turned us all into filmmakers of one sort or another, whether for a family home video or a corporate presentation. These are transferable skills, in other words.
“Every summer we see our students grow as people on their film sets: working in teams with passion and focus, learning to collaborate, taking responsibility, gaining confidence from performance, making new friends, learning important digital skills which will serve them in whatever career they choose. We’ve had parents say they couldn’t get their teenage son out of bed for anything. Then he discovered filmmaking.”
On Young Film Academy’s courses, budding actors and filmmakers learn skills from industry professionals, then use professional equipment to script, shoot, star in and screen their own short movies. “I never dreamed I could actually make a real movie”, says aspiring actress Daisy from Guildford, aged 11. “It’s so cool!”
Students even get the opportunity to do what most professional filmmakers can only dream of - premiere their films for family and friends at the home of UK cinema, the prestigious BFI Southbank in Waterloo. The best films are put forward to win a coveted Young Film Academy Award, the kids equivalent of the Oscars.
“Our annual showcase is what making films is all about, sharing and taking pride in what you’ve achieved as a team” says James.
Students get copies of their films to keep, plus their own behind-the-scenes special feature.
So how can you get involved? This summer, parents can choose from a range of practical filmmaking courses run in venues across London, or a residential summer camp, and no previous experience is required.
Young Film Academy courses start at £115 and range from their introductory Make a Film in a Day (1 day), through their popular Four-Day Film School (4 days), right through to a residential Acting & Filmmaking Summer Camp (full board, 1 or 2-weeks).
“We’re transforming a beautiful boarding school one hour from London into a state-of- the-art movie studio for young actors and filmmakers”, says James. “Two weeks of non-stop filmmaking fun where students can eat, sleep, breathe - and make - movies. For kids who love movies, whether it’s creating them, acting in them, or just being part of the team, YFA Summer Camp is a dream come true.”
So parents take note: filmmaking for kids has arrived. Some of the leading lights of the British film industry have already jumped on the bandwagon. Writer/director Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill) has got his kids making movies already, but with an unexpected downside: “My sons couldn't have had a happier time with Young Film Academy and now seem to know more about film making than I do. This is quite awkward.”
Of course, he’s joking. Or is he?
For more details of Young Film Academy’s courses, summer camp & kids parties for ages 5-18, visit www.youngfilmacademy.co.uk