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Holiday StoryLab for Film Workshop Day 3 : Finishing making and beginning playing.

We started with a meeting around the table, this having now become part of our routine. It is interesting how quickly a group will form and welcome habits of practice which help them settle into their working process. We started by going back over the storyboard, working out in slightly more detail what each transition would be and which character would do what and be played by whom. I took notes on the storyboard as we went along, using a different colour for each child. 

Then we worked on finishing the Puppets. This was enlivened a bit by the fact that the previous day, when they were so excited by the object shadows on the projector, I had invited them to bring in a toy each to see what shadows they cast, and now some of the toys’ shadows visited the first day’s scenes projected on the sheet. Had we had more time it would have been nice to spend more structured time playing with their toys, making up another kind of film from them. It is an idea I must revisit. As the numbers were small it was manageable for some time that some of them were exploring this, while others finished or practiced with their puppets, tested materials and things etc. When everyone was getting more distracted, most puppets had been finished, and it was getting too chaotic around the projector, we did a tidy up and brought out the day’s visiting puppets: Luichín na Cathrach agus Luichín na Tuaithe - the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, from an old glove puppet show of mine. These asked the children to guess their story and asked questions of their puppets, warming them up to perform with them. The parents were due then so I suggested they hide behind the screen and pretend they had all changed into puppets. When the parents’ arriving discovered this, they did a slightly chaotic improvised performance and then they all went home.

The original plan: Action visiting and play I planned all four days in advance so as the workshop proceeded the actual events deviated more and more from what actually happened. I include some ideas here that didn’t get used for various reasons (although they often informed what did happen) but which may be of interest, and as I may use them again. I used bold in the notes so I could glance at them during the workshop and see prime ideas easily in the text. It has to be said though that I don’t usually use my notes, responding more to what is happening in the room, they are just there as a back-up.

Put two places up on the two screens and let the children play with their characters visiting back and forward. Change scenes from time to time.

To help us have ideas for this lets play a little game called Feel!Do! We start by collecting ideas of different feelings mothucáin éagsúlachta. Let’s think about the mice first, what did the mice feel at different times of the story? Fear, Excitement, hunger, boredom, sadness, happiness, what other feelings are left out? love, hate, jealousy, frustration, ambition, pride. Write out on squares of paper as they come up with them and a picture of each. Fold and put them in a hat. Let each child in turn pick one out and decide what might happen to make their character feel like that and what might the feeling make them do (show this on screen if talking is inhibiting). Jot some of these ideas on the paper / on paper on the wall.

Tell them of the Yes rule that actors use in the theatre when they are playing together to make up stories to give everyone courage to play and to share ideas. 

Connections. Brainstorm ideas of connections: friends, enemies, in an accident together, brothers, sisters, on the same bus...Let each child take a turn at imagining a connection between their character and another. Make two groups this way. It is a yes game, so each character that has been suggested has to accept but they are allowed to add to the idea. 

Then ask the group to suggest what part the places might play in a story where these connections are shown.

Ask them to practice/play these stories, and then to show them to each other. Or add emotions in first? Add story clues

Play stories They can collect ideas from others as well as before. When everyone has had a go we will let each child take a turn at putting up their scene and invite three or four other characters to be there with them, we will give each group two emotions and they have to think of a little story where the emotions are used, maybe changing from one to another, maybe one person feels one thing another another. Have a little practice and then show to each other and see do we know what the emotions are. 

what parts of the stories we liked. Note them down on storyboard sheets. Then we either replay for the other scenes mixing groups, or they bring the other scenes into the stories.

I film these games and keep track of who has had a go. 

Put ideas people particularly liked on loose leaves. Then we put these ideas in order to make even better stories / to remind us the next day.

We may also make invitations for their families/friends to come and see a screening or performance the next day : this could be a good way to end things, it would be nice to have them sitting down focussed for once when their parents come in!

Day 3 Materials

Loose leaves and pencil (emotions)

Thumb tacks

Multi-Coloured post its


Day 3 Resources

Spare lights

2nd OVP today?


split words (for improvisation game)

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