Silence is golden for Camden’s young film-makers

Primary pupils are not usually known for their silence – but habits were changed for an exciting film project at Fitzjohn’s school in Hampstead.

Two hundred children from six Camden schools became silent film writers, directors and actors for the day creating movies to be shown in their very own festival.

The would-be film executives were shown Charlie Chaplin classics to give them a feel for how the genre worked and set out to create modern day versions.

Film crews made up of years three to six wrote, story-boarded and then filmed very different movies.

One, charting the Roman invasion of Britain, was filmed on Primrose Hill and traced the dramatic events using an easy-to-use flip camera.

Another film focused on the Greek myth of Icarus, while the group who wrote a script on the Curse of the Mummies made the local church and crypt their set.

Martin Riedl runs Film in Education in Camden Town and has been making films in schools for more than seven years. But this was the biggest, most ambitious child-led project he had ever done.

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He said: “All of the children understood the way that silent films worked very quickly.

“They really got it and, once they were shown how to construct the films, the stories were all their own and they created their own title cards, camera angles and how the films were to be put together. It was hard work but a lot of fun and they really got into it.”

The films were then screened for pupils, staff and Camden’s Mayor last Tuesday. They were interspersed with adverts written by other children from Holy Trinity School as part of a persuasive advertising project.

Annie Williams, headteacher of Holy Trinity and St Silas, said: “The children had to have a lot of in- depth knowledge before they even started making the film. They had to get to know their subject – whether it was myths or the Romans – really well.

“It was great to see them working together as actors, directors, cameramen learning and applying all those skills.

“The fact that 200 children were involved is pretty impressive in itself. I’d love to see it happening as an annual event. If you speak to the kids, they all thought it was completely brilliant.”

Fitzjohn’s headteacher Rob Earrey added: “It was a pleasure to host the first Camden Silent Film Festival. The quality of the films was fantastic.”