Around 2012, Dave White and Steve Griffiths were teaching literature to year 6 pupils (so ages 10-11 in the English classroom system) at St Andrew’s School Hove, UK. The book they were focussed on was the C. S. Lewis legendary classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The two teachers wanted to bring the book to life for the pupils and to teach the youngsters new skills at the same time. They hit on the idea of turning the book into a film, with every child taking part. Unsurprisingly, the idea was an outstanding success.
Over the years the idea has grown to the extent that now the school even possesses a “green screen” which enables scenes to be beautifully filmed with scenes in front of snowy woods, castle walls etc. Also the methods allow for all children to be involved to the extent of one pupil going into the wardrobe and another coming out. They even have an Oscar Awards gathering of parents at the end of the year!
Aside from the substantial skills learnt in this method there is a long lasting impact both on the children’s education and social values and their potential development of skills in the future. One pupil who came through this system was Elliott Hasler, of Relsah Film Productions and “Charlie’s Letters”, “Refuge”, and “To Hunt a Tiger” a film short that has just had its World Premier in The Maldives. Elliott also has another full length film “Vindication Swim” which has started its production process. It was during the course of these classroom filmmaking enterprises that the seed was sown. Since then, Elliott has moved on and has been referred to as “…the next Spielberg”.
The value of this work can not be overstated for the skills and values learnt in this way may find their way into the independent or main stream filmmakers of the future. What follows is my interview with Dave White about how this started and how they have accomplished so much.