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I'll admit I'm a bit biased here since I'm a filmmaker by trade, but I truly believe the process of planning and making videos can offer tremendous learning opportunities for students of almost any age. Not only is the idea of telling stories with video really engaging for many kids, filmmaking is ripe with opportunities to connect to almost every academic subject area. As the technology to shoot and edit films becomes more ubiquitous, where is a teacher with no experience in video production to begin? I've shared some resources below to help you and your students get started on making blockbusters of your own.

Video Playlist: Student Filmmaking 101

Watch the player below to see the whole playlist, or view it on YouTube.

 

  1. 10 Tips for Beginner Filmmakers (10:37)

    Young filmmaker Simon Cade's channel, DSLRGuide, is one of the most popular for filmmaking tutorials. He's got hundreds of tips to share and started making videos when he was just 11.

  2. No-Budget Filmmaking Gear - The DIY Filmmaker (05:02)

    Getting your filmmaking kit together is one of the hardest things to do on a budget, but you can't begin until you have the basics. There are links to some of the DIY projects to build your own gear on the YouTube page for this video.

  3. Adapt Your Script to a Storyboard (09:19)

    One great resource is the YouTube Creator Academy channel, which has a variety of tip videos made by YouTube's most successful creators. This video by Mary Doodles and Whitney Lee Milam is one of the best intros to storyboarding I've seen.

  4. Telling Your Story Through Video (04:00)

    It's less glossy than the other tutorials here, but I love that this video uses footage from student work to illustrate camera angles. It's produced by ChildFund Connect, an Australian organization that provides an online space for kids to post videos they've made.

  5. Top 5 Tips to Shoot Incredible Video with a Smartphone! (08:34)

    Nashville video producer and tech reviewer Danny Winget gives excellent advice for filming with smartphones, which is probably the most accessible way to get started. He covers both gear and technique in this short video.

  6. 5 Quick Math Tricks for Filmmakers (06:02)

    IndyMogul stopped posting new videos two years ago, but their YouTube channel is still a treasure trove of tutorials on every aspect of low-budget filmmaking, from visual effects to lighting. This video shows the math behind some essential filmmaking rules.

  7. Sophia Dagher Offers Tips & Tricks in Filmmaking (02:14)

    ProjectED was an Amplify program that hosted open video contests for students and teachers. Although they seem to have stopped running these, they still offer some great resources, like this fun advice video from filmmaker Sophia Dagher.

  8. Top 15 Mistakes Beginner Filmmakers Make (02:34)

    This is long (17 minutes) but fortunately filmmaker Darious Britt is really engaging. His advice is geared towards people trying to break into the film industry, but his tips are sound. Heads up for a little language that may not be appropriate for younger kids. 

  9. How I Edit My YouTube Videos (13:23)

    While there are hundreds of more informative and concise tutorials on video editing basics, I chose this one because it features Jennifer Zhang, a teen YouTube creator, sharing how she taught herself to edit video using free tools. She posted a Part Two here.

More Resources on Student Filmmaking

As you can see, there are so many things to learn when it comes to basic filmmaking, and there are countless resources available to help get you started. I didn't even dig into sound, lighting, or scripting in the selection above, but you can find tutorials on every aspect of filmmaking on YouTube. Try some of the channels linked from the playlist for more. The list below includes some articles I've enjoyed on the value of filmmaking and digital storytelling for kids. Plus, there are some lesson plans that will help give you ideas. Share your favorite resources in the comments below, and I'll see you at the movies!

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Michael Van Laanen's picture
Michael Van Laanen
Founder & CEO - Our Rock Project

For the past four years we've been designing and perfecting the Our Rock Project (ourrockproject.org). We have 6-12 grade students team up in a classroom, choose a STEM topic, independently research the topic, find a local professional working in that field, interview them, then write, record, edit and polish a short form (4-10 min.) documentary. Once the teams have completed production of their films they are able to share them with the world in our Archive.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Our Rock Project is completely free to participate in and our Archive is always free for anyone to visit and learn from. It is important to note that the copyrights to the student films always remain with the children and their parents.
Our Resources Page has a nine part How-To video series produced by the publicized team at Untamed Science where we walk students and their teachers through the film making process. We also provide lesson plans, links to software for recording and editing, links to public domain photos and footage and coming soon a completely free use B-Roll library.
All of the resources are available for free to anyone interested in participating in the Our Rock Project.
Right now we have over a hundred student films in our Archive that anyone, anywhere with an internet connection can watch. Our mission is build a library of these films produced by children in classrooms around the world and that once we have accumulated tens and hundreds of thousands of films - all captioned and translated, we will have a free access library that geography, history, social and cultural studies teachers can use to augment students understanding of the people, science and cultures that make up our world.

Michael Van Laanen's picture
Michael Van Laanen
Founder & CEO - Our Rock Project

Took some time to read your blog and am very impressed with what you do. Would love to connect with you to discuss our projects. You can reach me at my work email mvl@ourrockproject.org.
Look forward to hearing from you Amy and best of luck with your project.

John J. Gaines's picture
John J. Gaines
CEO & Co-Founder of Moving Mindz LLC

This was our students' first film project (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qKE9dlrv6Q). They wanted to make a film on earthquakes, but we only had about 3 hours to make the it. So, we made due with what we had and worked together through every step of production.

After talking to the students about earthquakes and discussing the many features of earthquakes, we discussed the structural integrity of buildings in the event of an earthquake. Understanding the science and engineering behind aspects in the story allows the students to experience a more fulfilling learning experience. At Moving Mindz, learning isn't traditional, it's an experience!

Check out all the FUN we're having at our STEAM Academy every Saturday!!

For more information or to see how you can enroll your child, go to http://www.movingmindz.com/STEAMAcademy

#MovingMindz #STEM

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