Lights, camera, Mepflix

Mooroolbark East Primary School students from Grade 3 6 act, direct and produce their films ready for the Mepflix movie night. Pictures: SUPPLIED.

By Mikayla van Loon

Mooroolbark East Primary School hosted its seventh annual movie festival last week, showcasing the talents of its senior school students in a night of movie mayhem.

After six months of curating, directing and acting in their own films, 120 students from Grades 3 to 6 were finally able to present their final cut films to family and friends on Wednesday 1 September.

Grade 3 teacher and MEPS Movie Festival coordinator Peter Johnson said putting together a film with a storyline is both rewarding and challenging on a number of levels for students.

“The kids, initially, find it very challenging to try to not only visually communicate but they’ve also got to speak at the same time and they’ve got to try to give the impression that they are in the story,” he said.

Mr Johnson goes by the philosophy that “it’s very easy to make a bad movie but it’s very hard to make a good one” and so this project requires planning and vision from students to produce a strong narrative.

“What I tried to do was to get the kids to put together a project in which they could learn co-operative skills and learn problem solving skills.

“And also just learn the craft of being able to operate a camera and being able to use the camera to communicate their ideas clearly to an audience.”

Many of the films focused on school life but the ones that stood out were the ones that had clear direction from the start.

“Those who had a very strong narrative from the beginning to the end they’re the ones that were the most successful,” Mr Johnson said.

“The other thing which is really good is when you come across a student made movie, which just seems very innovative and just so unusual and unique in its composition.

“They’re the ones which really make things like the movie festival quite worthwhile.”

Although having to take the movie festival completely online for the second year running, Mr Johnson said he has received some great feedback from parents, meaning it was a hit.

“The only other thing I’ve got to go on is by the views and the likes and based upon all that it was a great success considering the limitations that we all unfortunately had this year.”

Seeing how much the students enjoy learning to use the camera equipment and have complete control over their films is exactly why Mr Johnson brought this in as an extra-curricular activity.

“Aside from the fact that I find this sort of stuff really interesting, it makes for a really good extra curricular project for students,” he said.

“The main thing which I’ve tried to do is create something really unique, something which very few schools do.”

It also gives students confidence in their capabilities, to try something new and seeing themselves on the big screen is always a huge motivator.

“The thing which stands out to them most is their own appearance in these things, they love to see themselves in action.

“Sometimes, initially, they might find it a bit embarrassing but eventually, once they get used to the idea of it, they actually find it quite a novelty.”