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 first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.
- 10 Tips for Beginner Filmmakers (10:37)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- "Filmmaking for Kids: Rough, Raw, and Real" via The Atlantic
- Teaching Film Resources via MediaEd
- Film in the Classroom Lesson Plans via The New York Times Learning Network
- "A Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom" via NWP Digital Is
- 3-2-1 Vocabulary: Learning Filmmaking Vocabulary by Making Films via ReadWriteThink
- " The Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in The Moving Image" via NYC Department of Education
- Teaching Tools from FilmEd. via FilmEd.
- "16 Websites and Apps for Making Videos and Animation" via Graphite