By take 8 of the very first shot, it had dawned on me just how much work making this film would involve. Scanning through the footage later that evening revealed that after the first shoot (about an hour of production) my cast, crew and I had managed to film one entrance through a door and one line of dialogue. The lesson about the true nature of filmmaking had begun for all of us!
The students involved in making ROBOT were in their last year of primary school (age 10/11). The aim was to make a complete short film and to do it properly by using the conventions of filmmaking. I recruited five students as crew, including boom/sound recorder, clapperboard, lighting and a production assistant. Every Tuesday afternoon I’d rush to get the set of that particular day’s shoot prepared, get all the equipment ready and then pick up the students from their homeroom at the end of the school day.
As we had a little over an hour each week, filming was frenetic to say the least. Initially it was very slow going as the crew got used to their jobs whilst working together and the cast got used to my rushing about whilst barking instructions.
Over the course of production, the actors and crew became exceptionally efficient and on average we managed to turn an hour of production into a minute of movie.
The support I received from the school was incredible. Over fifty students and members of staff were involved. From my fellow teacher friends who acted, recorded radio announcements or stayed late after school to set fire to the school field, to the maintenance and admin staff that made rooms available, provided resources and changed bus pick up times. The parents of the children involved were really flexible and dealt with my chopping and changing, as did the class teachers of the students involved. But the biggest thanks of course goes to the children who worked ridiculously hard for the hours it took to finish the filming.