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“You’re going to make a 4 minute opening to a film…”

At the beginning of the academic year the Arts Award was split into 3 separate disciplines, Art, Drama and Media Studies. The students were carefully divided into groups that would work in an art form that was most suited to them. Jenny, Ash and Deej would lead these groups over the next few weeks in a number of workshops and sessions preparing their classes for the next stage of the Arts Award. Deej set the Media Studies group the challenge of making an opening to a film, this is his account of the process…..

“You’re going to make a 4 minute opening to a movie” are the exact words I said to my class at the start of this project. I was met with blank faces, doubting eyes and a number of comments that suggested the class felt that they were completely out of their depth which at the time was probably true. What I didn't tell them is that the frame work for the task they were doing was taken from an A-level media studies syllabus I studied myself back during my school years. Naturally a tough ask for a group of year 10 and 11 pupils.

The nature of the task would require the group to choose a genre they would like to work in and a theme for the movie. Unanimously and quite strangely the class chose to create a horror movie. The class then looked at current popular culture to pinpoint a theme that had a large fan base that already existed and would be easy to access. At this time AMC Networks were in the midst of releasing season 6 of ‘The Walking Dead’. which made the decision was very simple, for the first time in Green Room history we would take on the mammoth task of creating a Zombie Movie.

Quickly the class found themselves constructing a well oiled production team splitting the workload between each individual. Kieren (Year 11) would take the leap from working as a sound man on previous films to direct and write the screen play (be sure to check out Kieren’s behind the scenes documentary ‘From Sound to Screen’ which will be released online very soon), Elliot (Year 10) would take charge of the props department, Louise (Year 10) would make every teenage girls dream a reality by becoming the films make up artist and Jack (Year 10) would dip his big toe into the giant unforgiving sea of postmodernism and take his rightful place standing next to Postmodern film heavy weights Steve Coogan, Quentin Tarantino and Ricky Gervais. With this crack team ready, set and working hard they began their journey in discovering the fine details and intricacies of amateur film making.

With Green Room Productions in full swing the pupils begun to construct portfolios documenting and tracking the work they would do over the coming weeks. Each pupil delved deep into their chosen area looking at professionals, iconic creations and previous work to draw inspiration and guidance that would eventually lead to the pupils to their finished product. Simultaneously story boards were being drawn, make up was being tested on a daring volunteer (Lexie Sparks), props were being spray painted and the final draft of the script was taking a post modern beatdown being pounded with intertextual references and hooked with bricolage, the class started to look like the production they had strived to be.

The movie was cast starring Richard Allen (Co Head of School), James Messer (Green Room Veteran) Katy(Year 11), Luke(Year 11) and Jamie (Year 11). Cameraman Ashley Sheehan (LSA/Tutor) was given the story boards to revise with a fine tooth comb, Louise had pulled in a few favours constructing a crack squad of make up artists including Lexie Sparks (School Manager), Skye (Year 10) and Saffron (Year 11), Kieren had Deej (Media Studies Genius) by his side sitting in the co-pilot seat as assistant to the director.

Finally the shoot day arrived and the crew were ready to rock and roll. We arrived on location at Clewer Fields and immediately every member of the crew kicked into gear. Kieren was demanding a coffee, the cast were getting into character scavenging food and groaning with hunger, Ash cracked on immediately with establishing shots, actors were being Zombified, Jack was recording his magic 30 and Elliot was preparing the area ready for the first shot. From that moment it was smooth sailing with a fully functioning film crew on the location of a film set.

Later on the make up team left the film location and returned to The Green Room to prepare the volunteering extras (both staff and pupils) for the final shot of the day. Together with the partnering arts award groups a Zombie horde was being conjured from the fiery, exothermic depths of the schools Science Lab. The zombies were looking horrendous and ready for the their close ups. The cast varied from a crazy flesh eating arts award facilitator (Jenny Thorn), a dead Tom Cruise lookalike from the film Top Gun (Daniel) to a Zombie bride who had copped it at the alter (Emma). The extras were shuttled down to the film location arriving ready to cause some terror. Staff and pupils side by side rehearsed the final scene as if they were a group of professional actors getting their first break in the film industry. With in a few takes the final shot was filmed and there was even room for a few pick ups that would supply the film “the money shots” we had been striving for all day. “THATS A WRAP” Kieren shouted as camera was lowered and and he saw the satisfied look on Ash’s face. The crew erupted with joy as they saw all of their hard work end in a monster success.

Below this very long winded description of our time filming Survival is the final product. You will recall me saying earlier in this passage that “the class felt that they were completely out of their depth which at the time was probably true.” I can proudly say that this is certainly not the case. What they have created is something far beyond something that was expected of them. The class worked hard, had fun and looked like professionals while they were doing it. Thank you to my Media Studies class for such a great effort and experience, thank you to everyone who helped them on the way and thank you to those who said “YES” when we asked you to get involved.

Enjoy Survival…

Daniel Jacobs

Co-ordinator of Sport

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