Selected Focus Areas 1.Recognising non-diegetic sound – when we can identify, and discuss the function of, sounds that are not generated by objects or actions “within the world” of the film. 2.Authorial intent – when we understand that films are made by people; that these people make deliberate choices about what they show and how they show it; and when we can speculate about the reasons for specific authorial choices.
Importance of the Viewing Context Good speakers needed – some of the sounds which tell the story can’t be heard on small speakers. Children often benefit from talking during the film – sharing ideas. Children also benefit from watching the film in silence – becoming absorbed in the atmosphere. Children can become more emotionally connected to the characters. The teacher, often without realising, models how to watch the film. Number of viewings – there are many advantages to re-watching a film, offering the children a different focus.
Working on the Sound Track Children in Y1 can get a lot from the sound track – can hear lots of sounds. They easily discussed the beach setting, but found ideas about character harder. They were quite keen to carry on working with the sound track, rather than watch the film. Few Y1 children put the sounds into a story line (the best was a less able child) Y5 also got a lot from the sound track. There were many interesting interpretations of the sound track. Many children accurately interpreted the setting from the sound effects. Individual effects were also correctly interpreted, even the slot machine noises.
Working on the Sound Track Y1 children could easily get ideas about setting just from the sound track. Some had an idea that there was a character there – from the crunching of footsteps. In Y5 number of the higher attainers even managed to deduce some elements of the plot. Y1 children can identify diegetic sounds, but not non-diegetic sounds. Y5 had a debate about the music in particular and whether it was part of the environment. It was the music that ‘clued’ the children in to the setting. More able Y1 children could grasp the idea of ‘sound effects’. Y5 children were very clear about sound effects and why they were placed in a sound track. One more able Y5 child predicted the entire plot from the soundtrack.
Working on the Sound Track: the ‘tell me’ grid Derived from Aidan Chambers; used in BFI materials and training. Character:Story: Place:Time:
Working on the Sound Track: using ‘tell me’ grid Grid of 4 sections was too much for Y1. Just one thing to think about (or possibly two) was enough! Children were writing out of a need to fill the box – rather than because they had an idea. At Y5 the grid generated a great deal of accurate interpretation which ranged from the more able deducing a much of the film’s content from the sound track. The range of responses was large. SEN children were able to generate small lists in each quadrant although their deductions were not as accurate.
Special Needs: an example A Y1 child on the autistic spectrum with very limited speech had watched Lucky Dip when he was in F2. Initially his class saw Baboon on the Moon. Having become quite fixated on this film and having watched it repeatedly he then watched the other films on the DVD with his TA. He will have watched Lucky Dip several times. About a year later, he clearly remembered the film from the sound track. He ‘talked’ all the way through, doing actions: for example he bared his teeth, growled and said ‘bad man’.
Ambiguous characters – Pin Man Y1 – children can see that some ‘bad’ characters may not be what they appear to be. Y5 - Children surprised by the outcome in Lucky Dip, that Pin Man was in fact good.
Ambiguous characters – Pin Man Transcript from work with Y1: At the start of the film I noticed there’s a poster and it says that his name is the Pin Man. The man who broke the machine was called the Pin Man. (Why is his poster up?) Because he was a really bad man, they might have put it up cause the police was wanting him. … or because he was in a talent show the circus. They put posters up when you go to talent show and there’s people in the circus. He’s in the circus – he could have lifted a heavy weight up.
Ambiguous characters – Pin Man Transcript continued: … The police have put the poster up so that people will see the posters, then if they see him they will tell the police where he is. … and put him into jail. … He could chase her, when he’s smashed the machine, to make friends with her. Because he left when he was playing his game, when she was going to play her game. When she came back, her game was in his way so he moved it, but he did it too hard, so it fell over. He wants to go and make friends with her. …It’s like Edward Scissorhands – because Edward Scissorhands looks like a bad man with his scissors – but he’s not. The Pin Man might be a nice Mr like Edward Scissorhands.
Ambiguous characters – Y1 and Rabbit Children could not see the possibility of a ‘good’ character actually being ‘bad’ Three words for the rabbit? Cute, furry, cuddly, honest, lonely, fluffy… After it was revealed that the rabbit wasn’t good, they still couldn’t see that the character had been manipulative from the start.
Ambiguous characters – Y5 and Rabbit Children were genuinely shocked that the rabbit turned out to be ‘bad’. There was a gasp when they realised that something that cute could be ‘evil’. They also likened this to some horror films they had watched (the teacher was then shocked! )
Authorial Intent – Y1 1 child showed recognition that a film maker picks music to match character/events: Could you hear something when the arcade was on? Yes – the music that was sad because of that man. He was mean. So, why does that mean that there was music? Because if something is going to happen that’s bad it put music on that’s different. Who puts the music on? The man who made the film. And when something bad is going to happen, what does the music sound like? Dangerous. What if something nice was going to happen? Make it how it was at the start of the film – nice and calm music. Why did they choose calm music at the start? Because they’re on the beach and it’s calm on the beach. Who decides that? The man who made the film
Authorial Intent – Y5 Children were able to relate the music and sound effects to the mood of the film in various parts; Shannon said it ‘heightened’ the suspense. They were able to discuss the idea that everything in an animation is put there on purpose, whereas in a live action film there may be accidental placements of objects in a setting, which the author has no control over. NB - Authorial intent functions at lots of levels
Development of plot away from that shown in the film Y1 children were keen to develop the plot beyond that shown in Lucky Dip. Y1 children came up with a back story for characters (mainly Pin Man) and predictions for what could happen after the film. Y5 –- asked lots of questions about the back story of Baboon on the Moon, but showed no interest in the possibility of story after the film.
Links to other films ( and texts) Y1 children can make links to other stories with similar settings, animation styles, characters and actions: …..it’s like Edward Scissorhands – because Edward Scissorhands looks like a bad man with his scissors – but he’s not. The Pin Man might be a nice Mr like Edward Scissorhands. …..it’s like Lucy and Tom at the Seaside – In the Lucky Dip there’s a seaside there and in Lucy and Tom at the Seaside – there’s a seaside there as well. ….it’s like Baboon on the Moon – because the little girl’s face and Baboon’s face are both made out of wood. ….because when Baboon pulls that lever – the Pin Man pulled that lever and it reminded me of that. ….it’s just like Baboon because Baboon doesn’t have any friends and neither does Pin Man.
Links to reading and writing A Y1 child, during film making, was looking at a series of still images out of order. She linked them to the ‘story mountain’ idea, pointing out images which could be the story problem and resolution. The are many comprehension links between film and written texts – inference, prediction… Film offers a way to practise these skills without a ‘decoding barrier’
Teaching Strategies If the objective is to facilitate the children’s comprehension of the film, a different approach to teaching can be used. When working with film, try not to lead the children’s responses but use open questions, for example ‘Can you tell me more about that?’ Allow the children to take the session in a direction of their choosing. Then – try not to lead when receiving the children’s answers – to accept all answers equally and not to ‘interpret’ what they say, but to let them tell you. Don’t say ‘Oh that’s really good’ because children pick up on that and then all follow that idea. Stress – with Y1 – that many different ideas are wanted. In lots of teaching we quickly narrow the ideas down to the ‘path’ that we want the children to follow. The children are used to this, and expect it.
‘Pack Mentality’ Y1 children all tend to home in on the same idea – they think one of these ideas must be ‘right’ or ‘what Miss thinks’. They need explicit teaching to keep their own individual opinions and that different opinions are all valid. This may be a symptom of the way we teach most of our lessons: there often is a specific answer that teachers want. White boards were used to draw and write on, so the children had a record of their original idea. This tended not to happen in Y5 – children were able to remain independent in their thinking.
Hypotheses about film making By making film – children will develop an awareness of the role of the film maker. After a film making experience – children’s interpretation of films will include a greater awareness of the film maker.
Year 1 ‘Film’ Making Series of still images provided as the basis for a montage using Photostory3 software. Small mixed ability group then: Selected from a given range of music. Decided which pictures to use and what order to show them in. Used different ‘camera movements’ e.g. pan and zoom. Decided on duration: how long an image stays on screen. If time, could have decided what transitions to use e.g. cut, fade, wipe.
Year 5 Film Making The film was edited with four children of varying abilities. They had about 30 minutes and the children led the task with the teacher doing only the odd sound adjustment to line it up (when requested). Children had used iMovie once in Year 4 and once earlier in Year 5 to edit an interview so they had had 4-5 hours use before coming to this task.
Benefits of film making Y1 – film making had an unexpectedly large impact on understanding of authorial intent of the film maker A simple film making activity is accessible to all – via PhotoStory, Movie Maker, or iMovie if you use Mac. It was found to be surprisingly valuable!
Benefits of film making Y1 discussion of Lucky Dip after short film making activity When we watched the film, I thought that the people might have made the Pin Man out of clay – then stuck pins in him. (Who?) The director. … because it’s like that on Wallace and Gromit. It look like the Pin Man’s made out of clay and my Grandma says Wallace and Gromit are made out of clay. The children commented that the camera moves when the Pin Man picks up the little girl. (Why?) …because when you pick people up they swing their feet and she swung her feet and it swung her whole body as well, so they had to move the camera to make it swing.
Benefits of film making The children noted the zoom out at end. (Why?) … because it wanted to see the whole picture. … because when it finishes the camera always moves out – so you can see it clearly. One of the children then restarted the film – so we saw the initial zoom in. …it’s like a big person looking at a book and they have to go close to see the book and at the end they move away because they have finished. (What are we moving close to see?) The film.