It’s lights, camera action for primary school movie makers

William Lambeth, one of the school's film makers.
William Lambeth, one of the school's film makers.
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WHAT started as a small project in a Yorkshire primary school has turned a group of children into award-winning film makers whose work is being seen by audiences across the world.

A three-minute animated film which was written and produced by pupils at Battyeford Primary School, in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, has not only won national recognition but also been screened at film festivals across America and at the Sydney Opera House.

The Pirates of Rabbit Doll Island was produced by seven and eight-year-olds in year three at the school last year with the help of the Big Voice Media Collective, a firm which provided expert help to turn the youngsters’ vision into a reality. The project has been led by teacher Natalie Deane.

The original film was chosen to be screened at the Kids for Kids UK Film Festival, run by the British Film Institute, and from there the school has never looked back. It was selected as the winning film and has since been chosen to be screened at events around the world including the Little Big Shots International Film Festival which toured venues in Australia including the Sydney Opera House.

Now the school is hoping to repeat the success with the launch of the film’s sequel Copperbeard and the Legend of Pie which has been confirmed as a finalist for this year’s Kids for Kids film festival being held at London’s South Bank.

The storyline, animations and voices in both films has come from the children themselves.

Mrs Deane said: “We have been amazed at the response to our film from the festival directors, who seem to love it. It is an amazing achievement from these youngsters from Mirfield.”

The school’s art technician Jenny Hayer added: “We have got to the point where we would just be laughing each time we heard the news that another international film festival had decided to screen the film. It has become surreal.”

The second film has been produced using iPads with the help of Big Voice Media Collective.

The firm is working with 40 young people from across Kirklees over four months to make four high-quality cinematic short films using only “tablet devices, apps and accessories”.

It is a part of Shoot Smart, a mobile film making project looking at assessing how effective mobile and tablet devices are for filmmaking in the classroom.

Children involved in this project have been recruited from schools around the Kirklees district including Battyeford CE Primary, Thurstonland First School, Ashbrow Primary and North Huddersfield Trust School, all in Kirklees.

Battyeford pupil William Lambeth – who was involved in both his school’s films – said: “The film made a big impact on me and my interest in art, I liked it before but I love it now and I want to make more films. Making the sets and characters was quite hard to start with but I was quite good at the actual filming.”

Classmate Caleb Scanlon added: “I couldn’t believe how well the first film did and that we actually won the Kids for Kids Film Festival, that was amazing.

“Because I made the first film I already knew how to make the characters and set for the second and I did really well using I-Stop Motion on the iPad to do the filming.”

Pupil George McCabe, who has been involved in the Copperbeard sequel, said: “When I was chosen to make the second film I was really excited after hearing about how well the first one did. I want Copperbeard to go to lots of different countries.”

Copperbeard has been shortlisted in the animation for six to 12-year-olds category at the Kids for Kids Film Festival on Saturday, November 15.