Iconic filmmaking tools – meaningful objects – become the badges of the children's responsibility, and seeing them all together they actually look like a professional film crew. I think this is an important visual way of giving them a sense of their individual responsibility and belonging to the team.
I have been struck by how important is to have the cool looking pieces of kit in the schools I have been working with. Of course if you take a camera or a clapper board into a school the children are going to swarm around them and want to play. But there's much more to these pieces of equipment.
We have been taking small groups of children and training them to be a film crew. The specialisms break down something like – camera, sound, director, assistant, performer. One of the things we have to do is to determine which children are best suited to which task. At first they really don't know, but usually want to have a go with the camera.
After working together on a few small projects preferences begin to emerge. This is usually through a process of observing and encouraging.
An interesting strategy (once they've had a bit of experience) is not to allocate the roles myself but to let the children themselves decide. I tell them that I will not be making the decision, but they must decide among themselves who will be director, camera operator and so on. I give them 10 minutes on their own to negotiate. Once they have decided there may be one individual who has been sidelined; to the one who is sidelined I give the desirable task of being production stills photographer.
Once the team is assembled they take ownership of their specialist equipment – camera, fluffy microphone, clapperboard, tripod, clipboard etc.
I was very proud when a child who lacked confidence identified that using the clapper board was something he could do very well and announced this to the whole class.