While restrictions this school year could be seen as complications, they have also given our students and teachers the freedom to get creative by rethinking and adapting common experiences.
The 2020-21 school year would have been a year for the biennial Middle School musical, but staged productions were not possible. So Middle School choir teacher and musical director Mr. Duncan Frater put forward the idea of writing, filming and creating a movie from scratch.
“We did the Grade 5 movie last year, which was a lot of fun, but a very different experience because it was done during remote learning,” he says. “This year we thought, ‘Can we make a movie in a different way and on a much bigger scale?'”
Yes, the Middle School can!
“Before saying yes, you have to have a film idea. I thought about The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner or Lord of the Flies, and trying to figure out what a storyline can be where it’s just children,” he says. “Once I tossed that around in my head I thought, ‘I think we can do this, as long as the kids are on board.’ And they were excited when I met with them because it came across to them as more of a psychological horror.”
The opportunity to star in the movie or help out behind the scenes was presented to the Grade 8 students in early spring. Duncan spent Spring Break and the weeks that followed scouting filming locations and writing a script.
“Fifty students said they wanted to act, out of the 80 students, so we needed a big script,” he says. “You want every child to have the best experience possible, so if you can move a couple of lines around from one character to another and it doesn’t affect the story too much, it gives everyone a more equally enjoyable time.”
Filming took place during a few days and nights in May, primarily at Camp Pringle at Shawnigan Lake. With the help of fellow teachers and a crew of 30 Grade 8 students taking on the roles of directors, camera operators, boom mic operators, storyboarders, make-up artists and more, the Grade 8 students filmed a whole movie in a mere matter of days.
“It was definitely tiring but it was also a lot of fun. It felt almost like a little adventure,” says Grade 8 student Zachary D., who took on an acting role.
“I’ve done acting parts before, but I felt like behind the scenes could be a lot more fun for me because I’ve always been into the idea of making films,” says Maia H., who says she most enjoyed being a camera operator. “It was so much fun just to be there with the camera because I feel like I had a lot more say in what’s going on. I liked finding the alternative shots so I spent a lot of time in the bushes filming from there.”
The yet-to-be-named movie will debut next Thursday, June 17, during the Grade 8 year-end celebration. Duncan continues to work through the final edits, but everybody from students to teachers is excited to see the finished product and is proud of what they accomplished.
“We’re not a big Hollywood movie studio, a lot of us don’t have any acting experience, but we did our best and I know we’ve created a really good movie that everyone involved should be proud of,” Zachary says. “Thanks to the teachers for putting in all the work to guide us through the process so we could do this.”
Adds Duncan: “We had so much fun doing this; there were a lot of laughs when we were filming. They are super bright, good kids and they took it so seriously. I’m really proud of them for what they helped create!”