Friday, May 19, 2006

Making Movies

Now that my oldest son Liam is home from college, my older kids (ages 19, 17, 16, 13, and 10) have been intensely engaged in making a movie. They have been looking forward to this for quite a while. At Liam’s campus, the students like to get together and make impromptu films of greater or lesser seriousness (mostly lesser, from what I understand). He had an option of being a ninja in someone’s movie, but declined because of his workload.
My kids have made several family movies in the past, following their Dad’s tradition — he used 8mm films as a teenager, so was working with more limitations than they are, but he managed some pretty cool effects. He did an action adventure involving a body plummeting off a cliff, a spooky thriller with the camera panning over a still scene and eerie background music, and even a claymation. My children have usually gone either for serial adventures in the style of the old black and white “Shadow” serials, or for fantasy quest-type adventures. It looks like this one is shaping into one of the latter sort, but far more planned and organized than their more impromptu past efforts.
On Wednesday they gathered for a planning and brainstorming session, and Clare took notes. Yesterday, while parents and “babies” were in town for medical appointments, they gathered costumes and practiced choregraphy for fighting scenes. There are neatly bagged costumes everywhere in our living room and items of clothing strewn across all the surfaces. Clare was making beards — a white one and a brown one (dipped in coffee). One logistical challenge is that there can only be at most 4 actors in any scene (one person to film). So they need to have flexible acting and costume-changes in order to increase the pool of characters. They wish some of their friends lived closer so they could add to their actor roll!

Today, they were collecting the movie-making equipment and are planning to begin filming, from what I understand. My role is mostly to listen and to help them problem-solve and find materials. Yesterday we worked on the problem of Sean’s eyebrows. If he has a white beard and “hair”, he needs white eyebrows. We have tried flour and chalk, with limited success. But I am proud of my suggestion for dying the beard in coffee, though we won’t know until today if it actually worked.
The learning connections and “integration” possibilities are endless here. Clare has written a script. Sean was painting his sword and wrapping the hilt in leather. Liam, apparently, will load the movie onto his computer so they can splice and edit. They are refining their skills in working as a group with a variety of talents and interests and personalities. So far, no arguments, though I am simmering ideas to help them through if conflicts do end up arising.

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