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Behind the Scenes: Student Filmmaking Process

Friday, December 1, 2017

“We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.”
–John Dewey

Independence Level 3 students created a behind-the-scenes video during last term’s Reflection Week, highlighting the moviemaking process for their term project and reflecting on what they learned throughout the term.

Watch them reflect on what they learned in this video, created by Paige, Adam, Surya, Anya, and Laya.

At the end of each term, after students exhibit their work for friends and family, teachers and students take one week to reflect on what they learned, complete any lingering goals, and prepare themselves for the next term’s project.

“Reflection Week is very important because it gives our students the space and time to revisit what they learned, reflect on the strategies that went well for them during the term, and rethink their areas of strength as well as weaknesses,” said Orly Friedman, Head of Lower School. “Like John Dewey said, ‘We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.’ Reflection Week is a gift and an opportunity for students who have mastered content to go deeper on an aspect that caught their attention.”

Students in Independence Level 3 spent their first term studying the representation of power and strength in films through the lens of arts and culture. They analyzed how strength is depicted in films from different cultures, reflected on their own perceptions of what strength is, and then created their very own short films showing unconventional strengths.

“The concepts we focused on were power, strength, self-image, vulnerability, and the word hero,” said Ben, age 9.

Students discussed both inner and outer strengths that are represented in movies they have watched, including The Incredibles and My Neighbor Totoro, reflecting on representations and characters that they would like to see but that they don’t feel are present in everyday media.

“Through our film study, we found that moments of strength almost always go hand in hand with moments of vulnerability. Strength often takes hardship and courage to build. We had meaningful conversations about growth mindset and perseverance. This helped the students see different moments of strength from those they'd recognized before, and gave them ideas about what kinds of strength to celebrate in their films,” said Heather, the group’s Lead Advisor.

“For example, while discussing The Incredibles, the students first discussed strength through looking at the special physical powers of the family members. When we dove deeper, though, we discovered that the themes of emotional strength, teamwork, and love were just as present,” she continued.

For their final term project, the students worked on three short films of their own creation. The first film, Step Up, is about two friends who have a fight because one of them blames the other for his own actions. The movie celebrates having the courage to admit when you’re wrong. “It’s about stepping up and taking responsibility,” said Heather.

The second film, The Duet, celebrates the strength of being cooperative and patient with siblings even when it is hard to do so.

The final film, Julia In Jeopardy, is about how a child leans on her friends when she needs support. Nine-year-old Adam explains: “Our movie was about a girl named Julia who is going through a hard time because her parents are getting divorced. She managed to be strong through her emotions. It is a movie about friends helping one another through tough times.”

“Julia was strong because she persevered,” said his classmate Paige, also 9, who played Julia.

Their Advisor, Heather, enjoyed how the process helped students learn to persevere as well.

“I really enjoyed the re-shoots after we identified which shots needed to be redone to send their message more clearly. Watching the kids talk through those shots was great, because they could identify what was wrong in the scenes. It was interesting watching them plan their story visually,” said Heather.

“Producing a film was very challenging. My group couldn’t decide what slides to include or how to shoot, but after thinking about it for a long time, we figured it out,” said Kai, age 8.

“I have learned that you can’t make a movie just in the moment, and that you have to plan your shots ahead,” said Paige.

At the first Term Exhibition of the year, the students set up a red carpet and a popcorn stand and premiered their short films.

“It was my first Exhibition and I loved it! I enjoyed bagging and giving people the popcorn during our movie premiere,” said Kai.

The Step Up filmmaking group The Julia in Jeopardy filmmaking group The Duet filmmaking group The big film premiere Students pose on their "red carpet"


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