A Feast of Film


Introducing the first Scottish Film and Learning Festival

You know that feeling you get when you have been planning a big event for the past few months and suddenly it’s over? That’s how I’m feeling today, after a truly fantastic day at the first Scottish Film and Learning Festival in Glasgow on Saturday. The area around George Square really did have a festival feeling, as the Great Scottish (Children’s) Run was also in town, but not even the samba band immediately outside one of the conference venue’s seminar rooms could dampen the enthusiasm inside. For those of you who were not able to attend this time, here is the complete list of presenters and presentations. If you click on the title of the presentation it will take you to some further information or resources related to the speaker and/or the presentation topic. A big thank you to John Johnstone from Radio EduTalk who came along and captured some of the presentations, which you can hear by going to the EduTalk website.

John Murray – Reading Explorers

Jo Hall – BBC L.A.B.

Sarah Wright – The Show-Stopping Toolkit

Rob Smith – Using Film in the Classroom

Mark Reid – Cinematheque Francaise and Understanding Cinema

Tim Flood – Draw What You See

Jonathan Charles – Using Storyboards to Develop Visual Literacy

Claire Docherty – Using the Scottish Film Archive in the Classroom

Bill Boyd – Ten Tools for Reading Film

Sarah Derrick – Discovery Film Festival DCA

Athole McLauchlan – Film Studies in Social Studies

David Griffith – From Shots to Sentences

Barbara Hill and Gordon Brown – SQA and the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy

Jo Spence – Into Film Programme for Schools

Craig Steele – Movie Mashup

Jennifer Jones – Commonwealth Digital Project

Glow Scotland – Using Glow to Enhance Visual Literacy

Bruce Eunson – Film and the Scots Language

Time To Get Into Film


See. Think. Make. Imagine.

It may be too late for Christmas, but one of the best professional development offers for teachers in the UK at the moment comes absolutely free, and it will still be available in the New Year. Into Film‘s recently expanded catalogue of teacher training covers all ages and stages, from nursery education to media studies, from beginners to seasoned film critics. I have written often on the blog about the potential of film (and specifically short films) to impact on literacy development in young people, and how, very often, it is only the teacher’s fear of what they regard as a lack of specialist subject knowledge that holds them back from using it more often. Now the solution is to hand.

Intofilm-cpd-brochure-v2 (1)


“Film is a powerful tool to engage young people, capture their imaginations and bring the written word to life. Our programme places film at the heart of education to engage and challenge students and bring texts to life. Our training demonstrates the benefits of using film as text to develop learners’ critical thinking, analytical and contextualisation skills. These skills are equally applicable to and transferable between film and literary texts. As film is both visual and auditory, learners develop skills of description, deduction and inference, as well as the ability to decode texts and translate images and sound into words.”

Into Film website

cinemaRecently I spent a couple of days working with fellow Into Film CPD providers on the new resources at the London Connected Learning Centre in Lambeth, and I have to say I came away truly inspired. Whether you are looking to use practical filmmaking to develop creative skills, to deliver aspects of the curriculum through the medium of film, or to develop a better understanding of the language and grammar of film itself, there really is something here for everyone.

 “The CPD session last month was extremely beneficial to me from both a teaching and learning perspective. I have already started implementing some of the videos into my own teaching practice…It genuinely was one of the most useful and practical courses I have been on for a very long time.”

Daniel Cooper, Assistant Head, Ysgol Park Waundew



*Accessing the Into Film CPD is very simple. Generally speaking there should be a minimum of 15 trainees in a group, though exceptions can be made for those in small schools or more rural areas. Senior Leadership Teams, Heads of Department, Youth and Community group leaders, library staff, and local authorities can book free bespoke training events, with sessions ranging in length from 30 minutes to a full day. Literacy CPD and Filmmaking CPD strands may be delivered separately or as a complete package, and an Into Film CPD Practitioner will work with your event organiser to customise a session or sessions which are appropriate to the immediate needs of the group.If you are an individual teacher who would like to attend Into Film CPD training, but are unable to convince enough of your colleagues at this stage, you should visit http://www.intofilm.org/cpd-events where you will find a growing number of centrally-organised events taking place across the UK.

Why Not Start A Film Club?


Into Film will also support teachers who want to set up and run film clubs in their own schools. To ensure that children and young people get the best educational and social experience from their clubs, Into Film also provide film club leaders with comprehensive training and support. Leaders are introduced to Into Film’s expertly curated film catalogue, then given advice and support on programming films which are appropriate for audience and purpose. Additional advice and resources are available should schools wish to develop filmmaking as part of their offering to young learners.


*If you are in the South or South-West of Scotland, and wish to have free Film Literacy training in your school or local authority, please feel free to contact me directly. Contact details can be found at the top of the blog under ‘About’ or use the Comments section of this blogpost and I will contact you.

Related Posts:-

Film Shorts as Literacy Texts

Literacy, Film and the Scottish Survey

Ten Tools For Reading Film

The Magic of Moving Image

I’m still buzzing after spending the weekend in the company of some very creative, interesting and really decent folk at Scottish Screen’s headquarters in West George Street, Glasgow. The occasion was a two-day training session for new lead practitioners, expertly hosted by Scott and Adam, as the organisation continues to build a nationwide team of facilitators who are able to support schools, teachers, trainers, or anyone with an interest in developing Moving Image Education. The case for MIE is easily made, as it is the medium with which all young people are most familiar, even before they enter nursery school, and which continues to engage us throughout our lives -when did you last hear anyone say they don’t ever watch film or indeed like it? – and the publication this week of the new Literacy and English framework in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence redefines “text” in a way which recognises that the primary texts in most people’s lives are visual rather than printed text;-

“Pupils bring to school a wide range of ways in which they make sense of the world and interact with others. They are surrounded by a text-rich environment where many of the texts they encounter will be multimodal. Multimodal texts are texts that combine print, sound, graphics, moving images and gesture.  Picture books, websites, graphic novels, posters, books, video games, and film can all be classified as texts that require interaction from the reader for the message to be communicated.”

All the more reason that we need to teach young people to watch critically, which can be achieved by supporting them to make their own films and by using film in the classroom to help them develop a basic film literacy, where they have some understanding of how a film is constructed and the choices the filmaker has made.The role of the lead practitioner is to support the teacher or trainer as they introduce the language of film and build the critical capacity of the young people while engaged in making their own film, or as they develop their literacy skills by engaging on a deeper level with moving image texts.This is a key point for me, that MIE is not only about learning about film, but it is an effective means of developing the “traditional” literacy skills of listening, talking, reading and writing, particularly with young people who might otherwise never engage with printed texts. In future posts I would like to explore in more detail some of the best techniques for developing film literacy but for now here are a few tips to keep in mind if you decide to take the plunge with your students:-


Making Your Own Film

Making your own film has become an option for almost everyone nowadays, since most mobile phones have a video button, and it is perfectly possible to make a decent film using only still photographs and Moviemaker or iMovie. There are many examples of films on YouTube which are made on the most basic equipment but which attract thousands or even hundreds of thousands of hits. If you have a restricted budget. Flip cameras are a good option, producing fairly good quality images for under £100. These are easy to use as they plug in directly to your PC via a USB connection.

When setting out with young people to make a film it is worth remembering the following hints, as suggested by screenwriter, producer and Scotland on Screen Project Manager David Griffith;




  • Go with what they want to make, even if it does not work out in the end
  • Don’t impose your ideas, however wonderful they might be
  • Keep it simple and do it well. The simplest ideas often make the best films
  • Always write up (eg on a flipchart) what is discussed. Then you can refer back when necessary
  • Develop a list of key points in the narrative in chronological order. These can later be teased out further
  • Ask them to think of other stories they have seen
  • Remind them that there needs to be an “opposition” or conflict (what gets in the way?)
  • If film has characters, how can you engage the audience? What is there to like about them?
  • Develop basic storyboard/shooting script and take it with you when you shoot
  • You don’t need to be able to draw to produce a storyboard


  • Begin filming scenes even before you have decided the ending
  • Don’t move the camera unless there’s a good reason. Put it on a tripod if possible
  • Don’t use zoom unless there’s a good reason
  • Don’t pan (move camera horizontally) unless you want to reveal something
  • If you use dialogue, don’t learn lines but say, “I want you to say something like………”


  • Edit scenes as you go and repeat process
  • Finally, remember that every film has a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order!

An excellent screenwriting guide and other useful information can be found on the First Light website. Further resources can be found at www.ScottishScreen.com,  www.movingimageeducation.org and www.bfi.org.uk



Before long your students could be making films like this one, which was produced by the young people of Islay, supported by the Strangeboat Film Company, and was nominated for a “Best Documentary” in the First Light Movies awards 2008.


 And its Goodbye to Care from First Light Movies on Vimeo.