Inspiring program helps students tell their stories

Inspiring program helps students tell their stories

From scriptwriters and video editors to everything in between, students are taking on lead roles in the growing number of film communities springing up in public schools across NSW.

Film By… (previously Film By The Sea) is an initiative by a small band of dedicated teachers who firmly believe in the positive educational benefits gained from teaching film and film studies.

Now in its 9th year, the popular program combines the Four C’s of learning – critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication – by teaching students how to develop, participate in and even lead film projects.

Last year, the initiative showcased more than 500 films from the 900 in its database. Today, more than 1,000 student films have been created and a 15-hour registered training course has been provided to more than 700 teachers.

‘The atmosphere was so electric’
It all began at Miranda Public School in 2010 when then principal Glen Carter was walking down the hall and noticed the energy coming from Karen Beutler’s Stage 3 classroom.

In that room the students were buzzing with excitement, storyboarding for a movie about a superhero called Miranda Man who interceded in social situations.

“I couldn’t leave the room as the atmosphere was so electric,” Carter said.

“What struck me was the impact the activity was having on the students – they were so engaged in their learning and having so much fun.”

Carter knew immediately that what Beutler was doing in her classroom could benefit students at other schools, and after showing a group of local principals the movies his students had created, they were keen to get involved.

“I had seen the impact this program had on the students involved. It was like someone had switched on a light to their learning that wouldn’t turn off, and I wanted this for students all over the state,” he said.

And that’s what happened.

Film By… went from being a festival of films screened in the school hall to around 20 student film festivals screened across the state this year.

For teacher Karen Beutler, Film By... is authentic purpose-driven and project-based learning.

“Combining digital film-making tasks with traditional literacy objectives provides children with a clear, purposeful end-goal to aim towards,” Beutler said.

“It enables them to appreciate that the creative process of writing – the planning, drafting editing and revising – is integral to the quality of that end goal.”

Beutler added that visual learning is also inclusive learning and Film By... provides a level playing field for all students.

“Film is a universal language, and even children with learning difficulties and disabilities who struggle with any kind of academic curriculum can often to relate to film,” she said.

The above article is an edited version of the original version that first appeared on the NSW Department of Education website and has been republished with the permission of the author.