The Clip Club

Primary after-school club in East London, UK – we watch, talk about, shoot and edit short films and clips

Shooting ‘the meet’ scene – a good mess?

I know that shooting the scenes can sometimes be messy and not go entirely according to plan… and I think this session is one of these. There’s no Nimbus or Mr. P today so we’re one bigger group doing the shoot together. When I come back from having to move my car, things seem to get more noisy. Tempers are flying … but sometimes, paradoxically and unexpectedly, surprises can happen. Looking at the rushes we get quite a lot of good shots – amid the mayhem – that will be useable. But how many more could we have got if the group had been working together?

The group tends to turn to me to stop the noise, get some order and approve shot ideas, when the group could just organise itself and try things out. Maybe I shouldn’t get involved at all in the shooting, which is quite difficult for me…. that’s my challenge, as a teacher, to let go… what’s yours?

How do people feel when the roles/shots as listed on the ipad aren’t being followed?
Should Michelle not get involved at all in the shooting?
Why do some people lose focus, split from the group, wander off and fiddle with other things?What happens when someone from the group takes charge of the situation?
Why is listening to other people’s ideas or instructions so hard sometimes?
Does everyone need to have something particular to do all the time?
Why come to Clip Club? What do you get out of it?

I’m really curious about all these things and wonder if we need to come up with a different way of doing things.

Serious Shooting, Earnest Editing

Run School Run 2: Shot list in the Evernote app

We use the Evernote app in quite an interesting way in this session. As it syncs / updates automatically on all devices every few minutes (or you press the sync button manually) this means that the film crew can have an updated list of what shots need to be done and by whom wherever they are in the building.

We have 2 groups and a roving stills photographer: the film crew who alternate their roles shooting Clone Ellen [CE] approaching the tunnel, and then the editing group who start looking at the footage in iMovie from previous weeks and then start sequencing the shots, deciding which are the best. Michelle [MC] has already uploaded the clips to the Mac Book and organised them into recognisable folders. The discarded ones are either deleted or put in a ‘Blooper’ or a ‘Making of’ folder for later editing. MC reminds the editors how iMovie works: how to view their clips, select the bits they want, drag them onto the timeline, review again, refine some more, split the clips and build the story… and the tension.

This session works well – perhaps helped by last week’s reflective talk with John Potter and the film makers. The production crew work well together and come up with a variety of great shots to capture CE as she locates the hiding Clara and Wizard23. In one shot Cara shoots Clone Ellen by following her into the Tunnel classroom; it ends in a close-up of her head and shoulders leaning against the entrance to the tunnel (thanks to Wizard23 for that). There’s another one featuring a long shot – where the ipad is resting on the floor framing the corridor with a light-filled doorway at the end in deep focus – with Wizard23 and Clara running towards the camera in a panic and then past it out of the frame.

Meanwhile the editors work on a sequence near the beginning of the film where Dual2 exits the library and goes downstairs and then outside, quickly followed by CE going downstairs but turning in the opposite direction into the school. In previous weeks they took a few shots from different angles so these cuts work well as nearly simultaneous actions. They’re learning that they can’t use footage where people get in the way of the shot, the actors look at the camera, smile or simply act in unnatural  or unrealistic ways.

Great work here from Gman – I love the way he’s experimenting with angles and framing whilst capturing the process:


Clip Club welcomes John Potter and film makers Xube Ltd

At the beginning of April the Clip Clubbers, John (Mr. P) and I were very pleased to welcome some professional film makers – Jeremy Henderson and Richard Woolfenden – from a local film company called Xube (pronounced with a Z) and a researcher from The London Knowledge lab called John Potter. They wanted to get some inside information about young people’s film making and film making with ipads in particular. They are going to be working with schools in Leytonstone in a few weeks, making a couple of short films with 2 groups of 20 children (Year 5 & Year 8).

We all talked for about 40 minutes and then the visitors watched the clubbers taking some shots of the Clone walking down the stairs, for the film sequel. The children were asked about how they go about planning, shooting and editing, and the time it takes to get things done; how they make decisions; how it is to be working in a team; how they have been inspired by other short films and clips and how much the experience has affected their normal viewing habits.

We received a very nice email from John Potter about how much they had appreciated talking to the group (copied below). They were impressed by the clubbers’ detailed knowledge about film language, the process of film making and their overall enthusiasm. Mr. P and I are really very proud of how they performed and what they’ve achieved. Well done guys and thanks!

And here are some photos that Gman took of that day’s shoot – the stairs from different angles:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

John’s email to our Head Teacher, Ms. John said:

Good morning,
Please excuse the email out of the blue!
I just wanted to let you know that we had a very good visit as part of our research project for Into Film to your school’s Clip Club on Tuesday afternoon.
Michelle, John and all the children made us feel very welcome.
I think it is a unique after-school offering with a high level of commitment and fun all round and something to be really proud of.  I’ve been working in the field for a number of years, researching children’s digital authoring of all kinds and rarely have I come across such an awareness of film language and the potential of digital technology for media work.
We came in order to learn for a film-making project in schools in Leytonstone next term, so the children were genuinely helping to pass their knowledge of working with iPads on and I hope we can come back next term to show what we were able to do with their help.
Please thank the children and everyone involved for us.
Best wishes,
Dr John Potter
London Knowledge Lab
Department of Culture, Communication and Media
Institute of Education, University of London,
23-29 Emerald Street 
Here are the photos that Richard took during our shoot – more lovely high angle staircase shots. Staircases are always really interesting spaces to film in. There is usually lots of light and opportunities to experiment with different shot types:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Clip Club type sessions in Bordils, Spain

I thought you might like to see some of the people and other things I went to see in Barcelona in Spain a few weeks ago. I visited a primary school who, like you, watch film clips and make their own films and documentaries.

First you see Reception children walking through the town taking real and imagined photos of trees with their ‘juice-container-cameras’. The (Year 6) children by the river are interviewing an 81 year old man, Miguel, from the village who used to be the ferryman taking people, bikes and animals across the river. The young film makers scouted the location the day before and decided on that spot for the interview. You will probably recognise the things they say as they start filming, even though they’re speaking a type of Spanish called Catalan. They take footage of the interview, a few separate sound recordings and then a few different shots of Miguel walking down the path.

All the different years in the school are interviewing older folk in the village to capture and record their stories. These will then be edited together to make a documentary about their area and its history. I took some film of Year 1 children interviewing another man about the little chapel and what the hole in the wall was for.

I will work on subtitled translation at some point but wanted to show you how even Year 4s learn about: sound / light and colour/ framing and shots in foreign documentaries. The special thing about this school is that they do creative projects that involve all the Year groups. From about Year 1 they work using film and photography during normal lesson time in lots of different subjects, recording the process of making whatever they’re making. It was a real pleasure to spend 2 days there, the children and the teachers were all very busy and very happy!

Guess who’s back?

Hello Clip-Clubbers!

In Michelle’s last post, she mentioned that I am back in the club. Well, I’m glad to say- yes! I am! I’ve been working hard to get Level 6 – but really, I just want to have some fun with you guys!

Last session, we went around to film some more shots for Run School Run 2. Not going to reveal much though – you’ll just have to wait to the screening!

Thanks to all who take part, and –

I’m glad to be back!

Reflection on last week and draft storyline

Nimbus is back!! We are very pleased to say that Nimbus has been relieved of SATS booster classes and we all welcome him back to the club. As last week was a bit of a shambles… we discuss that and then read the last post describing the things that went wrong. We all decide that working in this way simply won’t do … Some mention that people had been too hyper, distracted, impatient, wandering off, that there wasn’t enough structure and planning. The whole effort to seemed lack teamwork and a sense of independence and needed a new focussed and determined mindset.

We go through a proposed storyline that Michelle had knocked together from various ideas that had been suggested thus far. See below. It could all change but two groups go off with a shot list and get on with shooting by themselves with ipads. We ditch the camcorder and the tripod. And teamwork seems to have been restored.

We’re limited by what shots we’re able to film because Clara hasn’t got the right dress on in terms of continuity…. She will bring it next week. One group films empty corridors and the playground – these are clips to set the scene and start the film. The other group films Duel 2 leaving the library and then pretending to run away from the Clone. Interestingly they decide to film the same scene simultaneously from a different angle – with another ipad.

Please be thinking how we can end this sequel!


“Previously”… to include clips of Part 1…


Shots of empty school.

George fiddling with gadget.

Clone Ellen ‘awakes’.

Sotonye leaves library down open staircase, without seeing Clone Ellen.

Clone Ellen tries to get out of library to find Sotonye.

Sotonye is walking back to class.

Real Ellen and Elisha are hiding in tunnel.

George fiddling with gadget.

Clone Ellen gets out of library – point of view shots as she goes downstairs.

George fiddles with gadget.

Clone Ellen ‘somehow knows’ where Real Ellen is.

Clone Ellen gets to tunnel – close up.

Real Ellen and Elisha hear her coming and get out of tunnel.

They run down corridor.

Clone Ellen runs after them. POV shot.

Sotonye hears the noises in corridor.

He sees the 2 Ellens. Confusion. Close up of eyes left and eyes right.

George stops fiddling with gadget. Close up of smiling George.

Elisha and Ellen also confused.

Real Ellen feels ill and faints.

Clone Ellen looks at Real Ellen also puzzled… [she thinks back to how she had fallen under the table…]

George pulls plug out of computer and starts fiddling with gadget.

Clone Ellen reacts and starts to lose battery power.

Battery power shot.

Sotonye and Elisha reaction shots.

Clone Ellen falls to floor in same position as Real Ellen.

Sotonye remembers the plug and runs upstairs to plug it back in, taking Elisha with him.

Both Ellens are losing battery power /heart beat slowing down ….

Sotonye and Elisha reach the library.

George is in background …

Something about a virus…?

Shooting problems?

The last 2 sessions have been unfocussed and not very productive. We had hoped to get a few shots in the bag but it’s been very difficult to even get the 3 or 4 useable ones we have. There may have to be some changes…

It could be that the sessions aren’t structured enough, but there was a hope the clip clubbers would be more focussed and organising themselves without as much adult involvement.

It could be the fact that Michelle’s role at the school has changed and so planning and preparation time for the Club is much less than it used to be [eg. the batteries ran out in the stills camera, which was annoying, and wouldn’t ordinarily have happened]

It could be that people are tired from the pressures of the day – it’s SATS time with lots of extra tests and drills and sitting still – and people come to the session with lots of stored energy to get rid of…

It could be that the change from using individual ipads to just one camcorder isn’t working because the clip clubbers’ autonomy has been taken away.

It could be that standing around without a specific role or purpose just doesn’t work at the moment – even though we try to dish out the Director, Assistant Director, Camera Operator, Photographer roles in turn… there seem to be too many distractions.

It could also be that a 50 minute session simply isn’t enough time when it comes to filming….?

The group will have to think about how we can improve the situation to get a better result and not waste time …. and how we can work more as a team. Perhaps an idea might be to shoot using the ipads again and for 2 groups to work on 2 different versions of Run School Run 2  building and editing a story from the stock of shots that we manage to take between now and Easter.

On a more positive note, here are some interesting photos taken by Leonardo and Gman (before the batteries ran out) .. mmm… come to think of it ….that’s something we didn’t do this time round – storyboarding with photos…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Planning the story sequel


Brainstorming the plot

Last session we started throwing some ideas around for our sequel to Run School Run 1 involving the clone, a dilemma, a virus/disease, a split screen. All of which sounds promising.

This week we get more organised with dates and a rough idea of what we will be doing over the next few weeks. We’d like to try and finish before Easter. We sit round a table in the new Early Years section of the school and go through the sometimes painful process of developing the storyline.

Some good ideas are offered and we manage to remain focussed for most of the time without it becoming a shouting, free-for-all, fidgety mess!


Project planning

There are three key ideas coming out of this session: 1) the opportunities for dramatic irony (the audience knowing more about the situation than the actors on screen) 2) the opportunities for complex shots/editing of clone and real Clara (eg. looking through window in door, thanks to Mr. P and Gman for these ideas) and 3) the idea of Nimbus being some kind of Master Controller of the Clone (like Wizard of Oz idea, thanks to Wizard23 for this).

Cara starts to question the logic behind certain parts of the story, for example, why should Dual2 go back to the classroom? It’s got to make sense and the story has to flow, for the audience to keep with us.


Shot description – not shot design… yet….

We all feel that the Clone has eventually to get back home but decide to leave some aspects of the plot to spontaneous thinking later on, perhaps while filming – as happened in the first film when shooting the ending.

Mr. P mentions that DJess has started ‘a film making club’ in her secondary school and so we might try and contact the school to see if we can visit her group and see how that works. Maybe we can go when this film is finished, show our sequel and then discuss how we made it?

There seems to be a clear commitment to making time count now, not messing around during sessions. Dual2 says he mentioned this already to Mr. P during the week and it seems that there might now be a shift in focus. It’s difficult at this time of year when there are SATS ‘booster’ classes are going on morning, afternoon and late after school… Nimbus has had to give up Clip Club for a while for this reason, but I guess it’s worth it, so he can do even better. We don’t think it’ll be a problem to grab Nimbus for filming the bits we need him for.

Can’t wait for next week to begin designing and filming the shots.


Run School Run 2: starting to plan the story

This session sees the beginnings of a sequel to our first short: Run School Run! Two groups discuss some ideas on how the story is to continue. We have some fairly complicated plot suggestions and some of the basic ideas are worth exploring: mixed up identities / involving the rest of the school – assembly? / a virus … but what really catches on is the idea of a split screen suggested by Dual2. He’d seen some app where it’s possible to duplicate photos side by side… I tell them to research if it’s possible to use this effect with film – in iMovie.

We find a Youtube clip to help us and then have to deal with the different versions of iMovie that we have on our Macbooks. A further problem is not seeing the option that the Youtube clip has told us to press…. more research…. you have to enable Advanced Options…. eventually after a bit of trial and error we get there and with a whoop of joy and satisfaction – solving the problem – we come up with a version of the effect we may be able to use.

It’s nice to see one group teaching the others how to do it… and then Dual2 comes up against the problem of iMovie versions again. We all have to get used to adapting to upgrades of software, new interfaces, new tools … it will always be changing as new ideas are brought in by developers and others taken away. The thing is not to get too comfortable with your interfaces … software is never finished, always evolving … just like the work we produce… maybe it’s always ‘in beta’, always a ‘work in progress’? I’m wondering how much of our plot will be influenced by what the tools say we can achieve?

Here’s part of the session…I forgot to use landscape instead of portrait with my iPhone 😦

I found this youtube clip which tells us exactly how to do a split screen so you don’t actually see the split…maybe we can try this the next time so we can make it look like the clone is interacting with the real person.

iPad film making – still & moving image & sound

These clips were made in iMovie on the iPad in about 25 minutes. We were practicing the weird, scary, thriller genre, focussing on close-ups. There’s a photo effect called the Ken Burns effect in iMovie (this was the guy who first came up with the idea for documentary film making). It moves around the image and you can decide how/where to frame the image at the beginning of the movement and its positioning at the end – it’s useful for guiding people’s attention to certain details:

Here’s Wizard23 & Clara’s:

Here’s Dual2, Gman & Leonardo’s:

Making of ‘He dies at the end’ monster

This clip shows how the film maker made the monster – in his back garden with some bits of stuff!

He Dies At The End – short ‘horror’ clip

ecu-dies-at-endWe decide to get back to film clip watching and making. We watch this short horror movie by Irish film maker Damien McCarthy called He Dies At The End. Even though we know what is going to happen, it’s still scary and creepy and full of tension. Michelle records the clip clubbers’ reactions whilst watching and then some of the comments made afterwards.  Watch it and see what you think about how tension and suspense is created and maintained throughout, with the Director’s choice of images, shots and sound:

In another post I’ll put up another clip of the film director making the ‘thing’ at the end… it’d spoil the surprise if I post it here!

Filming whilst watching (in poor light):

Chat about the film afterwards:

Wizard23 filming Leonardo after watching ‘He dies at the end’:

Post Navigation