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...and cut! Cape Town filming, day 2

A lovely way to wrap up the filming today at the primary school in Cape Town. Following yesterday’s session where we focused our imaginary migrant’s first day at school – an unfriendly, unwelcoming place – today we looked on the bright side: what would a positive, friendly school look like?
Me filming on our beautiful set!
After yesterday’s filming where the researcher and I had modelled a lot of ideas and techniques for the group, I was hoping that the children would get more of a chance to take the lead today. I hoped that this independence would be both in front of and behind the camera.

We started off the session by discussing what they could remember from the previous day’s conversation - about what we had imagined might happen to the boy. Making a film had seemed a bit of an abstract process to them to begin with so I hoped that by refreshing their memory with their ideas, the children would see how these ideas correlated into the actual film.
We then sat down to watch the footage that we had filmed so far: from their reactions – a lot of smiling and laughing –  they seemed that they were happy with the result! Phew! Children can be a tough crowd sometimes...   This was pleasing for us too, as we felt that the children could see their stamp on the movie we had made and that it was their ideas, rather than our own, at the centre. This is a challenge for creative practitioners and, from my experiences in school, an outcome that requires having a prior agreement between staff about which aspects the teacher or child will lead on, a structure that allows discussion and reflection and time to let the children work.
After watching the film, the children could easily see how they could alter the film to show a friendly, welcoming school. We asked them what their characters might do or say differently this time to be more welcoming to the migrant boy. The children quickly made suggestions of what their character could do differently: rather than push him, give him a hug; instead of steal from him, give him a pencil to use; rather than ignore him, help him to read the signs that had confused him before. We noted down their ideas to use in our filming schedule – this process was a lot more focused and done with confidence - and we were soon outside filming.
Done this way, I felt that the children had a sense that they were seeing the purpose of their activities and had visibly become more confident with the role of storyteller.
One area that I felt we didn’t give the children the full experience, was operating the camera. It would have made the experience more complete – at least from my perspective – to let them be more hands on. Sometimes it is hard to quieten your inner-teacher and follow their direction. This is especially true with having an end-product in mind. Would the footage have been as good if they had filmed it? Would they have got more from the experience if we had let them? Were they happy to let us take the lead initially? These are questions we should both consider before next time.
In any case, the next step will be to put together a short trailer and then the finished movie in time for the children’s premier (early April).

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