September 16, 2008


Want your kids, grandkids, or religion class to feel empowered when it comes to media and making good media choices? There's no better way to understand how media is constructed than to make media ourselves. "Creating media" is one of four skills encouraged by the "media literacy" movement.

All you'll need is a video camera (or digital camera that takes a few minutes of video) and a computer (all Windows programs have "Windows Movie Maker" software). You can be as simple or elaborate as you want with everything else. Gather the kids and here's how to lead them.

1. "What's your big idea? What's your movie about? (Try a Bible story or parable--the story's already there!) Describe your movie in one sentence. Make your description exciting, fun, mysterious, or all three! What's the title of your movie? When you make the movie, who will do what? Remember, movie making is a team sport--no divas or divos! Respect each person and let them do their job. The writer tells the story by writing. The director tells the story by directing the actors and filming. The editor tells the story by editing. You can also have a producer (who makes sure everyone has what they need to get the job done). There's plenty of other jobs, too: casting director, actors, director's assistants, producer's assistants, wardrobe, hair, makeup, craft service (food!), location scout, prop master, agents, managers, lawyers, etc.

2. "Writer(s): The most important thing to know about writing a screenplay is: 'Show, don't tell.' Don't have too much talking. Use lots of action and tell the story through what people will see.

3. "When the story is written, have a "story meeting," and make sure everyone is OK with the story. The writer(s) job is now finished. Make copies of the script for everyone.

4. "Actors rehearse their parts by themselves, and then with the director. Actors can make suggestions about their parts, but the director has the final say.

5. "When all finished filming, have a 'wrap party,' and watch the raw footage!

6. "Now it's time to edit. The director can work with the editor. The editor gets rid of mistakes and everything that is unnecessary and makes sure the timing feels right. The editor can add narration, music and special effects. The editor can create the opening title frames and the credits at the end. In the credits, make sure to thank everyone who helped, even in little ways!

7. "Have a premiere (opening show). In Hollywood, everyone wears black to a premiere. Give yourselves a big hand!

8. "Have a meeting after the premiere. What did you learn from making this movie? What would you do differently? How could you have worked together better? Would you like to try another movie-making job?

9. "Start planning your next masterpiece!"

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