'Tig!' is more than just a short film project. It is also an opportunity for Dallas Road Primary School students to have an introduction to the filmmaking world. The script is the result of a writers' room made up of several Year 6 pupils. Our aim is not only to make the film, but also to run workshops, exercises and competitions to get as many kids involved as possible, as well as having them help out the crew on set.
Jessie and Simon are in trouble again: Mrs Fairclough has caught them squabbling in the playground, but this is just the start of their problems. When aliens take over the school, they are forced to work together to save their schoolmates and even the aliens themselves.
'Tig!' is a funny, exciting and sometimes a little scary Sci-Fi/Horror/Comedy that was written by a group of Year 6 pupils under the guidance of Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Ian Martin (The Thick Of It, Veep). Ian used a professional TV writers' room format to coach the kids and was so impressed with the results he reached out to local Lancaster based filmmakers to get the film made.
Ian has written an article about the scriptwriting process which was featured in the Times Educational Supplement - you can read it here: www.tes.com
There's lots that we want to do to get the Dallas Road kids involved in making 'Tig!', from helping out the crew to designing posters. Here's a run down of what we've got planned:
We'll be hosting a series of after school classes to introduce the students to the basics of filmmaking. They'll have the opportunity to try out the camera, the lights and the sound gear and they'll learn about framing, focus, lighting and editing.
We'd like these workshops to be as interactive and hands-on for as many kids as possible, ideally with small groups so that everyone can have a role. The closer we get to our funding target, the more of these classes we'll be able to hold.
Alien Invasion - The Game
The aliens in 'Tig!' have cleverly hidden themselves in a hypnotic video-game that has the whole school, including the staff, totally hooked. In order to feature the game in the film, we need animated game screens for mobile phones and computers. This sounds like a job for the pupils...
In their IT lessons the kids will be learning how to design and build game screens that we can use in the film. They might even be able to build a playable game!
Poster Design Competition
The Dallas Road pupils can do wonders with computers. We're going to put them to the test by holding a friendly design competition for 'Tig!'. We'll be doing a photo shoot with the cast and then letting the kids get creative, using the photos to come up with a cool design for a movie poster and DVD cover art.
Making the film
Each shooting day we'll be inviting a handful of pupils along to help out the crew. Every crew member will be paired up with an assistant, who will have the opportunity to see how a film set runs, learn what each crew role involves and get an in-depth look at the techniques we use. They'll also get a credit in the film for their contribution.
We'll be shooting the film over a number of weeks after school and at weekends, so there will be lots of opportunities to get involved!
The 'Tig!' Moodboard
Writers' Room Lead: Ian Martin is an Emmy award-winning comedy writer and producer. His screen credits include the Bafta-nominated The Death of Stalin, Avenue 5, The Thick of It, Veep (for which he won two WGA Awards) and In The Loop. He has written a comedy drama for Radio 4, The Hartlepool Spy, and has written for publications including the Architects’ Journal, the Guardian and the New Statesman. His books include Epic Space and The Coalition Chronicles. He has lived in Lancaster since 1988. In 2017 he set up an experimental “writers room” at Dallas Road Community Primary School in Lancaster, where two of his grandchildren are pupils. With the support of deputy head Adam Newton, he modelled the group on a professional TV writers room - the objective was to produce a high-quality shooting script for a short film.
Director: Will Shelmerdine is a freelance writer and director living in Lancaster. He has worked in a wide variety of production roles over the years and has produced his own zero-budget feature film 'Summer 14', as well as short film 'Fell' in 2016, documentary 'Glass Roof: 30 years of Lancaster's Music Co-op' in 2018 and a selection of music videos.
D.O.P: David Chandler is a Lancaster based filmmaker and videographer who has worked on various short films, exhibitions, and promotional pieces. He also co-runs a monthly filmmaker's workshop which focuses on filmmaking techniques that cover both technical and storytelling techniques. His freelance video production organisation can be found here www.chandlervideo.co.uk
Assistant Director: Chris Wright has over 40 years of experience in Arts, Health, and Education, working with diverse groups (including different ages, backgrounds and abilities) in schools and lots of other settings and contexts. The arts aspect has included theatre, dance, music, and media arts. For 25 years he has directed and performed in Up Front Theatre. Lately, devising, filming, and editing video projects has become more of a thing which led to his current involvement in film both behind and in front of the camera.
For the last few years David, Will and Chris have been working to put together the Lancaster Film Institute; a community based organisation which runs workshops to help give aspiring filmmakers the skills and experience they need to start a career in film. We also hold screening events to connect those filmmakers with a local audience. 'Tig!' fits perfectly into LFI's wheelhouse, being a community based project that helps get young people involved in filmmaking, so when Ian got in touch with us, we jumped at the chance.
Producer: Adam Newton is the deputy head at Dallas Road and organised the Writers' Room with Ian. Adam is facilitating the shoot for 'Tig!' and helping us work around the school's timetable, as well as stepping in front of the camera for a cameo.
(Or: Where the money goes)
Alongside the basic costs of production, there are several other elements that we'd like to include in this project. Here's what we'll be spending the funds on:
Screening - We'll be hosting an event where the whole school can come and see their film (and maybe spot themselves) on the big screen.
DVDs - Copies of the film, complete with a sleeve design by the pupils themselves, will be made available for the Dallas Road kids to take home.
Workshops - As detailed above, we'll be holding some crash-course after school classes. The more we can afford to do, the more valuable these will be for the kids.
The Crew - Our crew are generously offering their time to help with this project. We would love to be able to put a bit of the budget aside, once the essentials are covered, to cover their costs and pay for their time.
The next project... - The Dallas Road Writers' Room was such a success that we'd like to do it all over again with the current Year 6 pupils. Anything left over from 'Tig!' will go straight into a pot for next year's project.