FEATURE: Royal Latin student films to hit the big screen

Could the next Martin Scorsese or David Lynch be hastily scribbling their way through overdue Maths homework? Could a future Mira Nair or Jane Campion be trying to beat the bell for lunch after a gruelling PE session?

Future filmmaking prodigies walk among us, and one school in Buckingham has proven that movie magic is waiting to be discovered in the classroom.

Year 7 and 8 pupils at the Royal Latin were tasked with planning, scripting, directing and editing their own short films during the summer term, in the hopes of winning big at the annual RLS Oscars, the school’s Hollywood style film awards.

Now three of the winning films are set to be broadcast to the public for the very first time, at a special film festival at The Film Place on October 7.

The selection of winning movies will be screened before the community cinema’s showing of ‘My Life as a Courgette”: an animated family film that explores serious social issues.

The road to stardom has been a rollercoaster for these 7 humble students, aged 12 to 14, who are all keeping their options open when deciding if a future in the movie business is right for them.

The following three films will be hitting the big screen this weekend:

“Hope”

Caspar Peart, 14, spread his net worldwide in searching for an answer to the question: what does hope mean to you?

“I asked people to talk about what they find hopeful and what they think the world is like today. I tried to get quite a broad variety of people and we interviewed a few different nationalities, some French, some German.”

Using an old video camera he had borrowed from his dad, Caspar set the question to people all over the world, recording their answers, and editing them together.

He even sourced a soundtrack that matched his theme, seeking permission from a band who produced music centered around the idea of ‘hope’.

But what would happen if the camera was turned on the filmmaker; what does hope mean to Caspar?

“Equality, I think that’s the main thing.”

“The Three Little (Guinea) Pigs”

Many students were faced with the brutal reality of trying to direct human actors. One group of five, however, had to deal with a menagerie of animal stars too.

Lucy Mo, Jess Johnson, Emma Hinchcliffe, Caitlin Clarke and Darcey Meade, all aged 12, combined their talents to corral three guinea pigs, and a Maltese, into a live-action reimagining of fairytale ‘The Three Little Pigs.’

The group giggled as they described how ‘the big, bad wolf’ was more frightened by his smaller co-stars, than they were of him. Luckily, the girls worked together to help everything run along smoothly.

“We split all of the responsibility, and everyone had different jobs on set - it was like a whole movie crew. Making the film was part of the curriculum, but this was our favourite topic.”

The story is famously a cautionary tale, so what’s the moral of the story? “Don’t mess with Emma’s guinea pigs.”

“Dod’s Return”

“Dod’s return”, by 13-year-old filmmaker Elsie Cobb, is an animated jaunt around Buckingham.

The protagonist of the story is not the eponymous ‘Dod’, but rather his pink and podgy plasticine pal.

Elsie explained: “Dod is this little green man, he’s a plasticine character and, in the movie, he has previously gotten lost, so his friend is trying to find him, well, hoping to find him.”

Elsie’s production is another entry along the theme of hope, yet patience is the real virtue behind the flick.

“The film is a stop-motion animation. It took a while to set up all the different scenes and I had to be very careful not to move any leaves etc. to make sure everything looked right. It features different locations around Buckingham.”

Will Dod successfully make his return, as teased in the title? Film fans will find out for themselves at the Film Place this Saturday.

The competition, which awarded winning entries with certificates and imitation ‘Oscar’ statuettes, was open to students aged 11 to 13 and was highly contested.

Laurence James, Head of Computer Science at the Royal Latin, described the mammoth task staff had in choosing the best films to put forward. He said: “It was extremely hard to sift through over 100 entries into this year’s competition.”

“Staff, parents and friends were blown away by the outstanding quality of entries, particularly as they were created by our youngest students, aged 11 to 13.”

The school hall was ‘packed to the rafters’ on the day of the ceremony; evidence of a group of students who had taken to the challenge with such enthusiasm.

Mr. James continued: “It can go against a teacher’s instinct to seemingly let students loose on a movie-making project: there is paper, discussions and props everywhere.

“They are given criteria and pointers throughout the project to guide research and the production process. Not only does movie-making develop digital literacy skills, but develops an immense number of essential skills such as teamwork, creativity and resilience.

“It is certainly heart-warming to see how students work through their creative differences and produce excellent results to be proud of.”

The Film Place are Buckingham’s local community cinema and have been showing films on Friday and Saturday nights for the last 12 years.

These include mainstream films as soon as they are available, world cinema, documentaries and film versions of popular stage shows from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe Theatre and the Royal Ballet.

Tickets for the screenings are still available at the Old Gaol or online, at www.thefilmplace.org.uk

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