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How to Get Kids Involved in the Film World
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Besides a children\'s jury and a children\'s journalistic film team, this year the Michel children’s film festival offered children’s workshops about film making. This opened new ideas to those who had never before considered filmmaking as a career. The kids had the opportunity to dissect a film and see it from a different perspective instead of being simply a consumer in the audience. Adrian Schoeneshoefer, age 10, thought it was the perfect opportunity to test whether filmmaking was for him.

The first workshop, Set Design, was the idea of Birgit Voss and Irma Mehlhorn, both designers for Requisition and Decoration. What is needed to create a scene? Will it be filmed indoors or out? What props are needed?  What style fits the theme? This workshop was designed to encourage children to think about the background behind the actors. The children were given a blank, blue wall on which they were to create a cafe scene. Each child got a story board and had to sketch his own ideas for the wall and then present it; finally they reached a consensus on the appearance of the finished scene. They had lots of materials to work with such as colored paper, flowers, vases, chairs, wall hangings and much more. After working for four hours, the kids created a backdrop which looked like a spooky cafe. Adrian said it was much fun and the ladies in charge were well organized and very nice. The kids worked well together, even though they didn’t know each other beforehand. Workshops like this appeal to those who are artistic, creative and like to work with design, style and color.

The second workshop, Film Technique, was sponsored by MBF Filmtechnik Hamburg, and  directed by Matthias Uhlig, the author of Manual der Filmkameratechnik, and Felix Hintsch, a technical lighting expert. Here the children could see how complicated lighting a scene is due to all the equipment required for shooting.  It took the two men at least twenty minutes just to set up the cables, lights, dolly and camera for a shot. What kind of lighting is needed? From what angle should we film the shot?  What do we want in the shot?  How does the dolly/camera set-up work? There are a myriad of logistical considerations before the camera rolls. The children had different jobs, four hours to work, and in the end, a mini film to watch on the big screen. This workshop would appeal to those who are technically orientated, detailed in thought, and have a possible inclination for the field of electrical engineering, as well as a feel for the camera. Adrian said that theme wise this workshop was the most interesting but also frustrating.  Although the men were nice, they did not provide for each child to try out each station and in the end their film had no sound. Technical difficulties!!  He would like to repeat the workshop, but it was clear to him that you need patience in order to be a successful lighting technician.