FEPOW on Camera, Shooting & Editing Film
Making a FEPOW film
AS level students as part of their OCR Media Studies A level course are required to explore the construction of film for example in choosing and framing camera shots , juxtaposing narrative content, capturing and uploading raw footage and then editing it .
Meeting the Far Eastern Prisoners offered them the opportunity to experiment with a variety of the features included in the conventions of documentary. Their work with the project was organised in such a way to ensure progression through a raft of relevant skills. The students worked through the following process. Where only two or three students were involved they described their learning experiences to the wider group.
First ...two students attended LSTM and were interviewed by professional film makers who were covering the round table event. This gave them the chance to explore professionals at work ask questions and look at equipment used in real settings. Later these students interviewed two FEPOW themselves.
Skills covered included ...Structuring questions; listening and responding with additional questions formulated on the spot; making written notes including choice of key quotations; recognising key moments;reporting findings to the larger group.
Secondly... on the dedicated FEPOW day crew shot film in multiple locations to encapsulate flavour of all activities taking place; captured this film on Apple Mac and selected best footage for inclusion in a documentary for the day. They also conducted an interview with Fergus Anckorn and Professor Geoff Gill.
Skills covered included...expansion of interview skills to cover wider field of content with carefully chosen questions; use of two cameras to provide variety and close-ups in interview, reaction shots etc. Wider footage was used to explore establishing shots, pupil reactions, unusual camera angles, group shots, distance shots,action shots of drama performances after workshops later in the day.
These techniques were further refined when working with local Radio station (Radio Merseyside) at a later date. The FEPOW day had resulted in a nice twist when one pupil realised that she too had a FEPOW in the family. He was invited to school and enjoyed having one great niece interview him whilst another (both fortuitously pupils at the school) filmed after talking through sound technology with a radio producer who was also present recording the interview for future radio presentation. Involving local media had a benefit for both parties allowing Media Students to interact with real professionals whilst simultaneously generating content for the radio station. This sort of collaboration embodies the spirit of the National Curriculum.
Finally.. in preparation for the school's work with the Researching FEPOW group conference in October 2010 all footage and more besides from further activities were edited on Apple Mac in the school to create a four minute film.
This allowed students to use the conventions of documentary juxtaposing recorded interviews with montage of shots overlaid with synchronised music for creative effect. A narrative process unfolded showing shots of the school mixed with stills from the FEPOW period. Black and white, clever use of transitions,and slow motion were just some of the techniques involved. This was an excellent preparation for the dedicated film production skills needed for A2 OCR projects and one student has used it to conduct a special study to obtain more UCAS points.
The value of the project is to allow the students to practice their skills for a real purpose for a real audience. This lent a sense of importance prestige and urgency to their work. In striving to produce something good they honed their skills and from early design stages to realisation gained all the skills necessary to achieve at A2.
Apple Macs are an excellent form of hardware to work with. The editing process takes many hours and much skill and patience but the software is user friendly and the outcomes of high quality.
Said one student: "We showed our film to people and it visibly moved them. That was such a great feeling..we thought it was good but it wasn't until we saw their reactions that we felt a real sense of achievement. There is a lot that needs to be improved in the film. In parts the sound quality is poor, but we know now about what needs to be sorted out for our A2 projects and we can fix it. I felt a lot more confident having got the skills before I started making a movie trailer for A2. But most of all I felt very involved in the FEPOW story...it was real and our film is a way of remembering and keeping that sad story alive ."