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Young talent: Primary pupils show off their filmmaking skills

You’re never too young to make a film, as pupils from around Ireland showed at the FÍS Film Festival and awards.

A still from the winning movie
A still from the winning movie

PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS have been showing off their film-making skills through a programme that has been running in Ireland for the past eight years.

The annual FÍS Film Festival took place this year on 8 November in the Helix, Dublin, and showed how adept young children can be at film-making, no matter what their age. The awards and festival celebrate primary school children’s creative thinking, imagination and teamwork through the medium of film.

From storyboarding to post-production, the children developed, directed and starred in these original short films.

How it works

Teacher Anne Moriarty of St Aiden’s National School in Sligo told TheJournal.ie that the school has taken part in the programme since the beginning, and usually they have between three and six classes involved. But the project has been so beneficial that they are planning to involve students from as young as first class.

The pupils have been extremely successful at the FÍS awards, even winning the overall Aileen MacKeogh award for outstanding film making. Having tried a number of different genres, including documentary, reenactment and 2D animation, this year they tried claymation for the first time – animation using 3D clay.

“It was brilliant – the kids absolutely loved it,” said Moriarty. “Everytime we do a new genre they take to it straight away.” She said it is a great way to get kids involved in the classroom, and that it involves collaboration from the teachers at the small three-teacher school as well.

We get all the classes together from 3rd to 6th class and pick an idea. We often work on history, or stories, or poetry. Then we group them together and get the storyboards going and get an idea going. Each group picks a scene to do and we have to make sure there is continuation and collaboration.

She described the process as having a number of benefits, and as “a really innovative way to develop literacy practice beyond reading and writing”. It goes beyond what people expect to find in the classroom, and benefits students in a number of ways – such as their literacy skills, communication, meaning and interpretation.

“We tend to think that it’s all about reading and writing and print, but this just allows us to use the visual, auditory skills, gesture… it’s multi-modal learning.  It allows you to engage all ages and abilites which is really important in class, particularly in a mixed class.

As filmmaking is active learning, the classes use the project right across the classroom, in all aspects of their work, such as sound effects while learning about music.

For children who would have been limited with print and the aspects of reading, writing and other traditional parts of the curriculum, “this has opened up so many opportunities for them to be able to show what they’ve learned”, said the delighted teacher.

The festival element is also beneficial, with the children glad their work gets a real authentic audience. “The fact it gets to national level really adds to that, it’s motivation then for the following year.”

“It’s given them opportunities to show things that unless they get those opportunities you don’t believe kids are able to do,” said Moriarty.

This year’s winner

This year’s overall winner was The Swinging Sixties, from pupils at St Patrick’s Boys National School in Laois. Their enlightening and entertaining historical documentary of the 60’s impressed the judges with its style, cinematography and imagination.

The award was presented to the school at a ceremony at the Helix attended by 700 primary school children and their teachers.

Read: New Irish horror film animated by children>

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