Now in its 10th year, our Screen It competition annually invites students from Primary and Secondary schools across the country to submit their films, animations and computer games. We know how excited we are about the program, and after receiving lovely feedback from artist and teacher, Dianne Zobel from Doreen Primary School, we thought we’d find out a little more about her students’ experience with media.
In 2012, Doreen won the Primary Live Action category with Cubbies, which then went on to be selected for screening in Little Big Shots, and in 2013 they earned a Special Mention in the same category for Fudge and Us. Aside from creating short films and animation for our competition, Doreen PS are also using filmmaking techniques to impart important lessons on students, with media now officially on the curriculum.
It’s a perfect fit for Dianne, who says, “I see my role as teacher to be in providing an environment for their thoughts and ideas to be realised and conveyed to an audience.”
With eager students lined up at her door, Dianne has devised a strategy to make sure everyone gets a go. For the first two terms, she works with all the students, with the younger grades making backgrounds and plasticine figures for animation sessions, which utilise her laptop and interactive whiteboard. “Like most artists, I’ve shifted from the darkroom to the computer”, she tells us.
Prior to animation, the students learn the storyboard process, which helps centre the kids and rein in distractions. However, being a fluid learning environment, Dianne points out that “it’s important to leave the constraints of the storyboard and problem solve considering all student input”. Things don’t always go perfectly in the creative process, but the students work together to overcome any difficulties that arise, an important life lesson.
Cubbies, created by Doreen Primary School
“I laugh at how mature young people are when they realise their idea won’t work. If taken seriously and considered, a student will often be the first to suggest someone else might have the best solution and be able to find it.”
The same applies for senior grades, where the process is a little less formal. After the story is laid out and artworks brainstormed, Dianne allows the creativity to evolve organically. “We look at what has been drawn and created and follow the strongest thread.”
The students aren’t the only ones working collaboratively. To enrich the learning experience, Dianne invites artists and friends to contribute to the class. In term three of the school year, she’s previously enlisted artist Megan Evans, who helped her make Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and The Cutting at the Cedar Forest at Doreen in 2009. While there, Evans also introduced the students to the small South African school Sabella Sitzwe, and the two schools collaborated on a film that transcends borders. More recently, Ron Fuhrer has assisted with classes one day a week during the term, hoping to capture enough animation and live footage for a short film.
But it’s not only animation and filmmaking techniques that students are learning. Grade 3 and 4 have adapted Pac Man into a stop-motion, live action maths learning tool. “Students move mechanically around the room knocking other players out of the game if they get an incorrect answer to a maths problem,” Dianne explains. “Time lapse was used to make this film.”
They’ve also used filmmaking technology to bridge the generation gap, making a time lapse film of a drawing created with Grandparents on Grandparents Day, as well as utilising media to make languages stick. To showcase their language program, Doreen made a film of I Tre Procellinin (The Three Little Pigs), a mix of live footage and animation. “Watching this film many times for editing has reinforced the language. Filmmaking has proved to be an effective learning tool.”
Speaking of editing, there’s a transfer of skills from student to teacher, not just teacher to student. Of the post-production process, Dianne says, “I learn a few things, introduce the students to the software and get them started and in a short time they are showing me shortcuts and tricks.”
Of course, how we came to the attention of the great work being done at Doreen was through Screen It, which Dianne believes has helped show the kids the possibility of a creative career.
“Having recognition for our work from ACMI has been unexpected and also rewarding,” she says. “The exhibitions and workshops that we have participated in, and being part of the Awards Ceremony, have opened students’ eyes to the possible career opportunities for creative thinkers. The experience of sharing work and the chance to see what other schools had produced in the vibrant, buzzing ACMI atmosphere gave insight into the training of young artists and the value of their achievement.”
Lucky for us, the students seem to feel the same way. Dianne mentions that at the Doreen end of year concert, one of her grade six students ‘boldly announced that he was looking forward to a career as a filmmaker’ and if not that, he’d be a carpet (presumably red).
The same student, at our Screen It Awards Ceremony, ‘groaned with disappointment at not being at primary school to participate’ this year. Dianne suggested he could still make a film, perhaps in our Secondary schools competition, and submit it anyway.
“On my Christmas card he signed off saying ‘see you at the Awards ceremony next year’.”
We certainly hope so.
Check out the Screen It Awards Highlights from 2012 to catch a glimpse of the Doreen Primary School team.
– Matt Millikan, Web Marketing Coordinator
Registration for Screen It 2014 is now open! In celebration of our 10th year, this year the competition’s theme is Reflection.