Prospectus films: partnering pupils and film industry professionals 

24 November 2014

Filmmaking education provider Young Film Academy (YFA) have launched a project that gives pupils the opportunity to combine education with real life experience within the film-making industry, whilst also providing commercial benefit for their school.

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(Image courtesy of Young Film Academy)

At the BFI conference for media studies teachers earlier this year, some media studies teachers in secondary schools reported that they had been tasked to produce a Prospectus Film for their school with students, but that they found this very challenging. They asked what ideas or help were out there for them.

Prospectus Films are short films commissioned by schools to showcase themselves, usually shown on the school’s website. Historically, these have been made by a handful of external film production companies, who come in to the school for the shoot and create films for each school who commissions them. The problem is that the films often look and feel very similar.

Young Film Academy (YFA) director Ed Boase can see why prospectus films can create worries for media studies teachers and schools: “Schools want their Prospectus Film to be made by people who really understand the school, its unique atmosphere and ethos. But getting students themselves to make a create high-quality Prospectus Film without suitable guidance and equipment has, until now, largely been out of reach. That’s why YFA has created packages that allows students to do it themselves, pro-style”.

Young Film Academy is one of the leading providers of filmmaking courses and events to schools and young people in the UK, helping over 7500 young people aged 6-19 to create their first films each year. YFA’s philosophy is that a collaboration between film professionals and pupils to create a Prospectus Film is a perfect way to combine the arts and education, whilst communicating the unique ethos and atmosphere of the school. “Not only do pupils learn new skills in the best way - by doing it themselves, they are also participating in a ‘real world’ project which the school would otherwise pay an outside company to produce” says Ed Boase.

Are pupil-made prospectus film packages really workable for schools in practice and what are the benefits?

The Project Leader of a recent pupil-made prospectus film produced by St Paul’s Girls School in London said: “We didn’t know quite what to expect at first. But the process was really collaborative and both girls and staff alike were thrilled with the outcome.”

“Young Film Academy brought in professional equipment, facilitators, expertise, media management and post-production polish, allowing pupils to create a high-end product. And while the content and style is led by the students, the school retains overall control of the film’s message.”

The school can benefit in commercial terms, as well as benefitting the students who get to take on the responsibility of seeing the project through. An additional benefit lies in creating lasting partnerships between schools and external arts organisations, which can help to improve OFTED ratings.

How does it work?

  • Each Prospectus Film begins with a 2-3 hour ideas session, moderated by YFA, in which pupils discuss ideas (often using Youtube clips as examples)
  • Group sizes are usually between 8-18 pupils
  • A script is then submitted to the school for comments
  • Two (non-consecutive) days are scheduled for filming. A professional crew arrives at the beginning of each day to facilitate filming, but it’s down to the pupils themselves (in pre-arranged roles, e.g. Director, Producer) to take charge. Pupils can rotate roles in order to fulfil other school commitments
  • Once filming is complete, 3-4 days of editing take place on-site, with pupils converting hours of footage into a three (or four) minute gem using MacBook Pros with professional editing software. There’s also the option to create an exclusive Behind-The-Scenes special feature, which is useful if anyone needs convincing that the pupils really did make their film!
  • The filming process is documented by a stills photographer, with all photos made available to the school
  • The school can make changes to the final edit are required - does this sentence make sense?
  • When the edit is complete, YFA gives the film a professional picture grade and sound mix and delivers the film to the school in high-res digital format

If you’re interested in discussing a Prospectus Film for your school, Ed Boase at Young Film Academy can be contacted by email or on this phone number 020 7387 4341.

"We love to talk to schools about their requirements and work out how we can help that unique school to showcase themselves, as well as creating a real-world education project that students in the school can engage with,” said Ed Boase.

More details and examples of previous YFA prospectus films can be seen here.