Premiering on the 1st of this month was a new TV program on Discovery Kids made for kids, by kids! The educational documentary Kids Vs. Film invites two teams of kids to have the experience of creating their very own 2-minute documentary, in a single day. Guided by industry professionals and hosted by Oli Pettigrew and Mohini Sule, the two teams compete to win the favour of their very own peers and fellow industry fans, with a big-screen debut at the end of each episode!
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A wonderful opportunity for budding filmmakers, BubbaMama were lucky to check out the screening of Episode 1: Marine Life. Opening with an introduction of the two teams, the kids were exposed to different documentary making styles, before launching straight into the deep end and brainstorming the direction in which they would like to take their mini-doco – exciting stuff! With Underwater World Singapore as their stomping grounds, Team One (Christian and Shannon) were appointed the subject of fur seals, whilst Team Two (Sarah and Keryna) learned about sharks and marine life conservation. What I loved about this show was that the kids really got to make the key-decisions from the get-go and, as an audience, we were able to gain valuable insights into the work that goes behind all of those addictive Discovery documentaries!
Talking to Keryna who starred in the Marine Life episode, it was very evident that she was pleased for Discovery Kids to come to this region. As an aspiring Director, she felt that her experience with Kids Vs. Film was very educational and inspirational, allowing her to learn about the adult world.
Be sure to catch the next Kids Vs. Film episode this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on Discovery Kids (Starhub Ch 308), further details at the end of this article.
If you are feeling particularly inspired and have an active little filmmaker of your own, here are Discovery’s 7 golden tips to directing, shooting and producing your very own home grown documentary!
1. Get into the ‘zone’ and pick your story
Documentaries serve many purposes – they can entertain, enlighten or educate.
Think about the message you’d like to communicate and the subject or topic you want to cover. Ask yourself, what inspires or astounds you? Are you the sort who enjoys busting myths that will educate and enlighten your audience? Do you want to make a documentary that evokes emotion in your audience – thrilling them or making them go “ooh” and “ahh”?
Here are some fun ideas to get your brain juices flowing:
– A day in the life of a police officer
– The true story of why the earth is round
– Man’s best friend: A film about pet dogs
– An Earth Day Special: In the nature reserve
2. Form a team and split the roles
You can embark on your home made documentary project solo if you want, but it always helps to have a couple more hands (and heads) to give the film that extra boost.
Rope in your friends or get your family involved – it could be something you do on your family road trip or a summer holiday project.
Some roles your film crew can take on are:
– Director: Oversees the creative aspects of the film
– Script Writer: Writes the script to be narrated on or off camera
– Production Assistant: Assists the director on set and keeps track of all the shots that need to be captured on film
– Cameraman / Camerawoman: Handles the camera during the shooting of the film
– Editor: Takes charge of how the film is edited under the direction of the director or team
3. Decide on how to tell your story
Once your crew has a role each, put your heads together and decide on the style of your documentary. Just like in KIDS VS FILM, you can try doing it with a host, interview an insider (or expert) or shoot it via P.O.V, or point of view, that is through the perspective of your subject.
4. Research, research, and research
A very important aspect of documentaries is staying true to the story and making sure they are as real as possible. Get accurate information by going through books or looking to credible websites. It’s also good to get an expert opinion before you start the filming process by speaking to a professional or someone who’s familiar with your topic or story. It is also at this stage where you can look up the best places to shoot your documentary.
5. Roll camera, action!
When it’s time to shoot, grab a camcorder or a digital camera and head down to your film set. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the location so you know which are the best places and angles for the camera to capture the shot. Quick tip: Always make sure you have enough battery life and storage space – you’d hate to have to start from scratch all over again!
6. Put the puzzle pieces together
Post-production or editing your film can be equally fun as the shooting process!
In Kids vs. Film, we learned of some cool tools from the editing dashboard – Slow motion scenes, split screens, and cool transitions from one scene to the next. But there are lots of other fun ways to make your documentary visually appealing and exciting:
– Colour: Play with the colour of your film to set the mood. Try black and white or sepia for an old school, nostalgic feel.
– Add sound effects: Add a spark to your video by creating your very own sound effects, like imitating the sound of a crackling fire by smashing potato chips in your hand or crumpling tracing paper.
– Include a soundtrack: Music can also set the mood and tone of the film especially during the parts where there is no speech. Captivate audiences with a gut-wrenching track as the camera pans over a majestic hill of greenery for example.
Turn to easy programs like Windows Movie Maker and have fun with the effects that are already integrated into the software. You can even include captions or add a theme! It’s one of the simplest editing tools to use.
7. Throw a screening party
And for the finale, why not organise a Red Carpet Gala event and invite the crew, schoolmates and your family to watch the final product? You can decorate your living room and ask everyone to come dressed to the nines to celebrate the official screening of your documentary! After the screening, ask for feedback so you know what areas are your crew’s best and what areas to improve on. And of course, don’t forget the popcorn and the confetti.
Kids Vs Film airs every Saturday night at 6.30pm (SIN/HK) on Discovery Kids, Starhub Ch.308.
The episodes encore on Sunday at 10am, 3.30pm and throughout the weekdays at various timings.