This article was written around the time that THRIVE kids completed the filming of Poisoning The World. As you may have read elsewhere, this film went on to win two awards in the Panasonic Kid Witness News Contest that year — Best Documentary and Video of the Year. This article outlines the process of making films in THRIVE.
ON THE SET & BEHIND THE SCENES
Written by THRIVE Program Teacher, Tyson Schoeber • Posted: 03-24-2012
The process of making THRIVE's newest film, a five-minute documentary about owls and rat poison, began over a year ago when one of the kids discovered an owl living in Renfrew Ravine, a small park right beside our school. We saw that owl on an almost daily basis over the next couple of weeks. We don't know what happened to it but assume that it needed to find more food, so it moved on. We never saw it again — but the kids' interest was piqued!
The kids' awareness of the problem with rat poison can be traced to an article that appeared in the Tyee online newspaper last year. Working as a group, they studied that article in depth, and wrote all kinds of notes and reflections. They also visited the Canadian Wildlife Services site in Delta and interviewed the biologists profiled in the article. With all of that research in mind, they wrote a script and, over a period of months, worked together to find ways to illustrate each point. Some of their ideas came easily, while others were only figured out after much struggle and effort — but that's learning!
As you might imagine, it takes a long time to work through the process of making a film like this. There are so many things to do! To top it all off, school is a very busy place and we're generally only able to dedicate a few hours per week to these kinds of projects.
As a teacher who integrates film making into the curriculum, I take a hands-off approach to the equipment and insist that my students take responsibility for the content. For me, film-making time is an opportunity to encourage the development of an array of reading, writing and technical skills in my students. While it may be slow, the up-side of this approach is that — when all is said and done — the kids can take the credit for what they've created! It is their hard work, creativity and understanding that's reflected on-screen, not mine.
In looking at the finished film, I think that Poisoning The World is probably the most imaginative film my students have yet created! We don't yet know how it will do in the contest, but the value of film-making goes way beyond awards! I'm confident in saying that all of my kids have learned a lot through the process!