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You’re the Director!
Build on a child’s love of movies to explore film as a way of telling stories. Using this printout, a child can sketch out an original movie scene or take a favorite movie scene and break it down into characters, setting, camera angles, props, music, and…action!
- Share the printout and explain that it’s a way of pulling apart a scene to see its different parts. It’s kind of like ingredients in a recipe. Start with an example scene, such as in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch. Who are the characters, the setting, objects (props)? Where was the camera to capture the action?
- Now, the fun part. What will the child’s movie scene be about? One possibility: His or her dream moment on a sports team (winning the U.S. soccer team a gold medal, the World Series, center court at Wimbledon, or the Super Bowl). Also consider doing a biographical scene: the best moment in the child’s life so far. Who was there, what was the mood, and what music was playing (or would have been if it had been a movie)?
- Talk about how a movie scene fits together like a puzzle. Change one piece, like the setting or the music, and it changes the whole picture. For instance, what if Dorothy’s home landed not in Oz, but in New York City? Help the child experiment with removing or changing an element in the scene.
- Take it to the next level by using a video camera to film the scene (or re-enact) the scene the child examined. Without a big movie budget, the young director will have to improvise. Maybe siblings or friends can be pulled in as characters–as long as they don’t demand million dollar paychecks!
- To better understand how stories become movies, watch movies that were originally books. Of course, Harry Potter comes to mind, but you might also try The Tale of Despereaux, Fantastic Mr. Fox, or Holes. Explore how key scenes in the book were translated in the movie–were they changed dramatically? How?
- Encourage the child to take part in school or local theater productions. No better way to understand the elements of a script than to bring one to life!
- Just for fun, have the child examine a favorite home video using the director’s printout. Who are the main characters in a wedding video or preschool performance and what was the action? Does your slice of life video have the makings of a real movie scene–or a YouTube hit?