Tag Archives: movie making

90 Second Newbery

90 Second Newbery is a film festival for kids to make very short movies telling the story of Newbery or Newbery honor winning books. The deadline for films is next week and the screenings start soon. You can find a list of them on the website. I already shared ours a few places because I was so excited by it and meant to blog about it earlier, but life interfered, so I’m sharing it here now.

We chose this as one of our big fall projects and it has been really cool to see the result. One of the most rewarding aspects was that after we sent in the link for the film, James Kennedy, who runs the festival, sent back really specific and positive feedback, which was very cool. Even if you don’t have time to participate this year, I would really encourage everyone to think about this as a project for the future. It involved so much good, positive, creative work and so many good discussions of literature.

This is the film Mushroom and BalletBoy made:

I’m still surprised at how much work went into this project. They’ve made little stop motion movies before as well as some little kid live action movies. Both the boys have a facility with iPad movie editing apps. However, they had never seriously attempted a project this ambitious. And everything, from the choice of the book, to the script, to the music and shots had to be agreed upon and it wasn’t always easy with two directors who had different visions.

The script was especially tricky. In the end, we used the script that Mushroom wrote. He had all these great phrases and moments in it, like a vision of Ivan saying, “Mack didn’t call the vet,” followed by silence to indicate how Stella died and the idea of using a news report to explain how Ivan ends up at the zoo.

Building the set for the stop motion of Ivan was even harder. We started with thin plexiglass walls for the stuffed gorilla playing Ivan, but the glare was terrible no matter how we set up the lighting and we finally had to lose it. We also tried using a green screen and even borrowed a real green screen from a friend, but again the lighting was never quite good enough to make the green screen look good and it refused to pan properly. In the end, the kids just printed out the image of the mall circus store they’d chosen to be Ivan’s dismal backdrop. The green screen was also supposed to be used for the news report, but all the takes didn’t work and we had to wrangle our friends from co-op into doing the report instead.

Filming the crayon drawings also was tricky at times. The Stop Motion app cut off the edges of drawings, which was okay for some scenes, but meant we filmed the final credits (no joke) more than half a dozen times trying to make them readable and not cut off.

Not long ago, I posted about how I think parents should help their children with their projects sometimes. This is a great example of that for us. I did almost none of the work for this movie. Probably the biggest thing I did was make a couple of the protest signs when BalletBoy was sick and they needed to be done so Mushroom could film with their friends the next day. But every other bit of work was completely the kids. Every photo, every bit of filming, every drawing, every idea for the movie.

Mostly what I did do was a huge amount of organization for them. I kept them on schedule. I typed up the handwritten script and helped them edit and revise. I encouraged them to pay attention to the details and redo things when they didn’t work or to let things go when they weren’t happy with the best result we could get. I mediated and suggested compromises between their different ideas. I highlighted the parts of the script that had been filmed to help them keep track. I set aside time for them to work. I played cheerleader and said how great the project would be in the end. And it is great.

I think kids need all kinds of projects. They need things where it’s really completely on them from start to finish. They need things where they have to follow someone else’s rules. They need things where someone shows them how much they can do with a little support. This was a project with a little support and I feel really positive about it and so do the kids.

Curve Balls

What I expected we would do during this gorgeous week of perfect, mild summer weather:

  • Pick blueberries
  • Go swimming
  • Go for a hike
  • See friends and run around
  • Go see the lotuses in bloom at the aquatic gardens
  • Go to the free Apple Camp
  • Wrap up some school

What we actually have been doing:

photo 1 (8)

That’s BalletBoy at the E.R. for a huge gash on the bottom of his foot that he got over the weekend playing at the splash fountain up the street.  So while we did Apple Camp and wrapped up school for the summer, we’ve been stuck inside for this beautiful weather, unable to get out and enjoy it!  BalletBoy can’t really walk and Mushroom refuses to go out in solidarity.  All my visions came crashing down!

But that’s okay, because instead they’ve done other things, including:

photo 2 (8)

  • Made up their own role playing game with a board and dice
  • Built three different variations of guitar games with the Makey Makey (one is in the picture above)
  • Lazed on the sofa and watched every single Regular Show (just trying to be honest here)
  • Invent a quiz show for the Husband and I to face off in (the Husband won, which is not a surprise since he’s an actual quiz show winner – he won the downpayment for our house on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire many years ago)
  • Played lots of board games
  • Made movies (the picture below is a still of BalletBoy’s movie featuring Mushroom as an inventor who makes a robot that goes berserk)
  • Added several hours to their summer reading charts for the library

robotmovie

It’s hard to be stuck inside in the summer, but I’m glad my kids can still make lemonade out of lemons.

Next week, they’re off to summer camp.  BalletBoy is starting to hobble a little better and his stitches will be out soon.  Hopefully I’ll have a nice break and they’ll have a good time at their camps.

First Win

photo (92)This is the first year Mushroom and BalletBoy’s Destination Imagination team has entered the competitive level of the tournament.  The younger teams have a special, non-competitive category.  They chose Project Outreach, a service challenge where they had to help a community and make a movie.  BalletBoy headed up their movie and we went to the tournament last weekend.

Much to our surprise and delight they won!  They only had to beat one other team in their division, but it was a team of older kids wearing awesome homemade Duck tape vests.  Now we’re going on to the state tournament.

As they wonderingly analyzed their medals and discussed the win while cuddled up on the sofa with me, I pointed out that this was the first medal they had ever won.  They’ve gotten medals for soccer and other activities, but they’ve always been participation awards.   They’ve also won prizes that were by chance, such as through a lottery.  This was their very first medals for something that took hard work and effort.

I told them to take a mental picture of how it felt to win and hold it in their heads.  As you get older, they don’t give you a medal for just showing up anymore.  You have to work hard and even then you won’t always win.  But when you do, it feels excellent, just like this.