Using film in English

Using film in English ( 13:46) is an interview between English advisors and 'Film By...' discussing the limitless benefits of incorporating film in your English program.

Incorporating film in your English program

Karen – Hi this is a Department of Education, Film by, interview.
[Karen snaps a film take board shut]

Amanda – Hi everyone, I'm Amanda Banks and I'm here with my colleague Dionissia Tsirigos the secondary English adviser and we have the pleasure of Glen Carter and Karen Boitler from Film by. Film by is it department run project that sits within every area of our curriculum but especially English. And they're an overnight success. They've been 10 years in the making, so we thought we get them into have a chat to us. Glenn, can you tell us about Film by and what are the benefits for our students and for our teachers?

Glen – OK, so Film by started, just over 10 years ago, Karen was making movies in the classroom and we decided to do a little Film Festival. We ended up with 17 schools in our first year. Come forward 10 years and we're approaching 25 film festival's just prior to COVID, as far West as Broken Hill as far North as that Tweed and as far South as Merimbula and everywhere in between.

We do three things at Film by. We run a 15 hour registered NESA course, on visual literacy in film making, we help to set up autonomous Film Festival's in your local community, and the third thing is special projects, which could be a film for a specific purpose, and you can see some of those on the Film by website or we do film camps out into rural and remote areas, and they are a whole lot of fun. We take film maker teachers out with us and we instruct teachers and we make movies. It's great.

Karen – In our registered course for teachers that looks at how to embed visual literacy in film making into the classroom and across the curriculum. And we look at how visual literacy is an important and key literacy for kids to engage with, and that it can go on to allow kids to develop so much of their potential across the six Cs. It's project based an it's one of those things that's just ticks all boxes.

Glen – I think Karen too, one of the things that we see as a by-product, is that this switches kids onto learning and sometimes it's that quite child at the back of the room that you don't think is really engaging, that all of a sudden wants to be behind the camera, not necessarily in front and it switches them on, but it switches them on to other parts of learning. It really does ignite the fire for them to want to learn more.

Amanda – I was just going to say it seems to have something for everyone.

Glen – Absolutely there's a role for everyone.

Karen – It's very inclusive. At our school have two special needs classes and an autism class. And all of those kids produce films. We've had SSP schools that create films and the gains that those students achieve are just like the mainstream. They collaborate, they become creative, their technological expertise increases. It's very empowering. It's very much a level playing field, and it provides for all learners.

Dionissia – That sounds spectacular and fun. Of course always and fun. An usually fun for the teachers just as much as it is for the students. And so in saying that, what connections are there? Not just we know that there are really amazing interconnections in the English syllabus, but what about the other syllabi and what connections might there be for other subject areas with your work?

Karen – Well, you find that it's very much embedded into STEM, so right across all of the arts, creative arts right across your science and technology. It would be almost impossible to teach history or geography without some form of digital input. And if the kids can create their own digital input, then you cannot fudge that knowledge. You have to have an incredible understanding of your topic before you can create a film about something. So it exhibits you're learning in a most profound way. Anything you want to add Glen.

Glen – Look I would jump into a couple of films we've done a special project, one that a lot of people have watched is ‘Jack and Tom’, which is rolled out every Anzac Day. The research that the children went to in order to make ‘Jack and Tom’, by-products, they found out, that the Duke came over from Hawaii just prior to the ANZAC's going to Gallipoli and demonstrated surfing. And so we were able to put that into the movie in in a very powerful way to show that there was a whole generation of young guys that never ever got to experience surfing. Just that little detail.

The history that we went into in the making of that film and the subsequent film we made, which is called ‘A parcel from my sister Kate’, which looks at women's role during the first World War, that movie was actually picked up as a stage five history resource and sits firmly in that area.

There's so many elements within that movie that were brought forward from ‘A Parcel from my sister Kate.’ You know, sometimes I'll have principals, especially, well all you know it's an overcrowded curriculum, we don't want to add this into the curriculum. This is a way of simplifying your curriculum.

This is a way of bringing all the different aspects into one part, and it ticks all the boxes and allows you to do all the things you want to do, but still you're able to really immerse yourself in the 6 Cs, so it's a winner on every level, and that's why, as a principal of 20 years, I was excited about this

Dionissia – So yeah. I think it's really great because it can actually sit in the framework of other work. So as you were saying, it sort of sits within the curriculum. When I think about it from an English perspective, it's it's like the product of all of this other work. It could be the product or it could be as part of, as you said, the special projects that you have. So the films that have been designed for the curriculum specifically. So then it's it's within the other work frames and kids can be creating things that may be beyond the film spectrum as well. It's very exciting and and there's so much space and scoping capacity within this project.

Karen – I think also one of the great things we've seen as high schools, using this as a learning tool to develop with their feeder schools and how the kids collaborate across stages and to create and to bring together their knowledge. That's really powerful.

We also see it within high schools when they are working across curriculum areas. We've seen films in high schools that have been created right across the English, the Arts and the STEM categories and all of the teachers in those areas have worked together with their kids to create amazing film.

Amanda – Are we able to access those to see them some time?

Karen – Absolutely. Kellyville high school, if you go onto their website, I think that would probably have a link. I know that their films are on. They just released a full, over one hour feature movie that was premiered earlier this year at Event cinemas in George Street, so yes.

Glen – In fact Karen and it was the number one selling movie that night in George Street, which was a Friday night, yeah, so there you go, the power film. On the Film by website, you can go and see examples of different types of films and filmmaking. Yeah.

Karen – And then you did mention something before about the power of digital media? We said these stats that you wanted to revisit and there was over 500 million hours of videos that are uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day and that is over 1 billion hours of YouTube that are watched each day. And we find that a high percentage of people who are watching video or watching, watching YouTube for instructional purpose to learn how to do things.

So it's important that their kids know how to engage with this and and see its applications across so many areas.

Amanda – And it beautifully ties in about purpose and your audience taking those into consideration. It's all about purpose.

Dionissia – And you know, it just makes me think about authority Amanda. So we work within our framework of the English syllabus, we have this really amazing resource called the English textual concepts, that conceptualizing the frame and film actually fits beautifully in there because the student themselves become the authorial voice, it's their perspective. It's their, you know, it's their understanding of text and it can work so so well in that space. It's very exciting for teachers.

And I guess as we were talking before hand, the other thing is now in the COVID world post COVID world, there would be many capacities to use the online spaces that all these amazing teachers, secondary and primary teachers across the state have flipped really quickly into and using all of this knowledge that they have to make this a synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunity where students can do these and then upload. Karen would you like to elaborate on that a little because you had some great examples of that previously?

Karen – I think that when we seek kids in a classroom we see quite often there certain students that will take quite often a lot of the focus in the room, and when we taught film and filmmaking, what happens is all the students rise. We see kids because it has something for everyone and everyone's level of expertise and everyone special talents. So when they all rise up, it is so inclusive and it's so powering and we've seen it every time. Haven't we Glenn? When we look at these kids, and I didn't know that kid could do this and they are brilliant.

Dionissia – And as a senior executive member Glenn, you know being in your position as as a principal as you said for 20 years, there's some really great capacity for this to even become little short films for staff. Like there's a lot that's come out over the last 10 years that has changed. Like where you started 10 years ago to what's available now tech wise, there's so many different things that could probably be seen. What are some of the suggestions or ideas that you've seen, or you would recommend?

Glen ̫– You know one of the great directors that I love is a guy called Spike Lee. And if you read anything or listen to anything, watch anything, that Spike Lee talks about, he says that the future is it with with mobile phones. Because they are in your hand and when we started Film by you didn't have a camera on your phone and the cameras in phones now are more powerful than the SLR's that we were making with kids 10, 11 years ago.

So the ability to be able to capture the moment it lies within mobile phones, and then it's how you build onto that mobile phone. And so it's a very accessible thing for any child, any school, you don't need to go out and spend a lot of money on equipment. We're actually putting lots of info on our website, that actually shows you how you can do this on a minuscule budget, which is what we started off with when we started Film by.

So I think that's probably one of the most exciting things, is the development of the mobile phone and you're going to see more and more major motion pictures actually shot on mobile phones. It's going to be the way of the future.

Amanda – And where will people go for more information?

Glen – Look, we have lots of info on the website, we've got links to things like media web, media web sits within The AFTRS website and we've got lots of partnerships with different groups. So there are lots of information points there on the website which is easily to obtain. We also have three competitions running at the moment.

One for World Environment Day that's currently running where we're asking kids to have a voice and tell their story in a post COVID world where we've actually given the environment a reboot.

So you know what excites me as a principal is the fact that we're giving children a voice and we're giving them the ability to be able to tell story through film. And it's the modem that they see. This is their world. And as teachers, we want to latch on to everything that we can do to engage kids. And I've never seen anything that engages kids more than using film to tell story.

And if you want kids to write well, get them to make a movie and they will exceed at every level.

Amanda – We were talking about their reciprocity yesterday weren't we Glenn between reading and writing and creating. It's just amazing.

On that note we will put all of the links to the website and your contact details on the Statewide staffroom. So thank you for taking the time to talk to Dionissia and I today. Thank you very much.

Karen – Thank you.

End of transcript

Return to top of page Back to top