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“Great products...one of the best curriculum's out there, great help for teaching our video class" -Christine R., Principal, Trinity Lutheran School, Kalispell, MT

"Screenwriting was awesome, our kids really loved these activities. It was also really nice to provide such a creative curriculum that addresses the standards in such a fun way." - Heather S., Director, After School, City of Fairfield, CA

“Having taught at the high school and college level, I was impressed with this curriculum. The materials and guidance were well put together and very thoughtful." - Michael L., Artist, Shea After School, Syracuse, NY

“This amazing program has enabled my students to comprehend the process of forensic science as well as the sophisticated vocabulary encompassed in the program's lessons.” - Erica T., Freehold Public Schools, Freehold, NJ

“This is a well organized course that I would highly recommend to other programs.” - Chad S., Teacher, School #18, Buffalo, NY

“The program is awesome! I’m doing it as part of an after school enrichment time. Our kids really enjoy the projects and it’s wonderful to use as everything is provided.” - Karen S.,Teacher, Olympic Middle School, WA

“This is the perfect kind of activity for afterschool. It’s fun; students learn by getting involved. Everybody wants to be a part of it!” - Kim L., Program Leader, Child and Adolescent Treatment Services, Buffalo NY

“They love it…it’s awesome. Kids are dying to get in it!” - Audrey A., Teacher, Clifford Marshall Elementary School, Quincy, MA

“The Missing Money Mystery was very easy to follow. The children had such a great time at it, we even allowed our group to re-enact the entire mystery. This mystery was fantastic, and we are looking forward to our next exercise!” - Jackie. J., Director/Detective, Hempstead P.A.L., Hempstead, NY

“The students were engaged and enjoyed the experiments. The story keeps the activities meaningful and provided an interested way to connect Florida Standards. The teacher’s manual was easy to follow and materials in the kits made it very convenient for set up. Overall, this is a great thing to do in afterschool and during the summer!” - Betty C., Teacher, Genesis Center, Leesburg FL

“Playing with Percussion offers an exciting doorway to exploring percussion, communication skills and learning about different cultures." - Sheila K., Site Leader, Accord Corp, Youth Services Division, Belfast NY

"Our kids enjoyed making their own instruments, especially sanding. Playing all those grooves at the end was a lot of fun!" - Nina P., Music teacher, Napa, CA

“The Cookie Jar Mystery was such a big hit at the middle school…which has been tough.”
-Charlie E., Teacher, Lexington County Schools, SC

"The Cookie Jar Mystery went really well, the kids talked about it for weeks.  They were very excited and intrigued with the hands-on activities and I really enjoyed teaching it!"
-Brook T.,Teacher, Lincoln Middle Schools, TN

Introduction to Moviemaking Complete Course Kit for Grades 6-8

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Product Description

This project-based screenwriting curriculum is designed to enrich the writing and language skills of students in grades 6-8. This fun, engaging 3 part course gets right down to the business of developing scripts and encourages learners to brainstorm their experiences for a story idea. Students pitch their treatment to the class before proceeding to a final script! Students will then translate their ideas into a authentic script through in part 2 of this fun curriculum. They'll learn how to mesh characters, dialogue and scenes into an interesting and entertaining short film. With scripts complete, students will move to Being a Director to teach the necessary skills for directing and creating a one-of-a-kind movie masterpiece!

Part 1 includes Being a Screenwriter 1: Generating Ideas for a Screenplay where students gain an understanding about the different types of movies and how to brainstorm an idea. In Being a Screenwriter 2:Writing Your Screenplay your students will take their idea from part 1 and develop into an official script, complete with loglines and storyboards. Then students will team up in Being a Director: An Introduction to Filmmaking to build teams to help shoot their movies.  Please see extended descriptions for each lesson in the "Course Outline Tab.

Included in the Kit is one laminated 3-Act Poster, Course DVD for Being a Screenwriter 1, Home Alone DVD, Ground Hog Day DVD and a set of Action Point cards.  There are a number of additional handouts and training resources on each Resource CD.

Course Outline and Lesson Descriptions

Part 1 - Generating Ideas for a Screenplay

Lesson 1 - The Kinds of Movies We Love: An Introduction to Genre and Theme
Students dive right into the screenwriting process with this introduction to understanding genre, in which the difference between Dracula and Cinderella really counts!

Lesson 2 - How Movies Work: The Three-Act Structure
What if Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) found herself surrendering to Darth Vader (Star Wars)? In this lesson, mixing up the elements of storytelling helps learners understand the classic structure of movies of all kinds!

Lesson 3 - The Story You Can Tell: Writing from the Heart
Generating ideas for screenplays often represents a struggle between the heart and the head. Learners capture the best of both in this set of activities that use memories and photographs to jumpstart the creative process.

Lesson 4 - The Brainstorm: Coming Up with an Idea 
The rapid-fire delivery of writing “prompts” in this lesson is sure to stimulate a swarm of new ideas. Most importantly, learners get the idea that inspiration can be found most anywhere—and that can always lead to writing something new!

Lesson 5 - Bringing It All Together: Making Your Ideas Work
“Story Stars”—an inventive activity that helps student screenwriters zero in on plotlines and story details—is at the center of this exciting lesson. Tabloid headlines also make a guest appearance in this lesson.

Lesson 6 - Developing Characters: Who Will Your Story Be About? 
Characters come alive in this intriguing and revealing exploration of character development. Students discover new dimensions to character on “The Psychiatrist’s Couch”. 

Lesson 7 - Understanding Conflict: What Will Your Story Be About?
Will the learners in your classroom craft stories with war, intrigue, disaster, crime, or failed romance at the heart of their stories? A return to familiar films introduces students to the concepts of analyzing conflict and its relationship to plot.

Lesson 8 - The Hero/Heroine's Journey: Managing Conflict and Character
Even the hero’s journey starts with a single step. Learners set off on the road to story-building in this important lesson that ties character and conflict in fun ways that stretch the muscles of imagination.

Lesson 9 - Thinking Cinematically: Showing Rather than Telling
The fundamental tool of screenwriting, the storyboard, is at the center of this introduction to cinematic thinking. As learners linking a chain of visuals in order to tell their stories, the principle of “show, don’t tell” makes good sense and great fun.

Lesson 10 - The Pitch: Writing Your Logline and Treatment
Imagine a film: “Twenty young screenwriters compete to win a Hollywood contract for a movie about themselves…” Learners wrap up their creations for the Hollywood litmus test: the challenge of “loglines” and “treatments” is explored in this activity on the big studio pitch

Part 2: Writing Your Screenplay

Lesson 1: Screenwriting 101 - Keys to a Great Script
A quick review of the screenwriting basics - genre, theme, setting, protagonist and antagonist - reinvigorates classroom excitement about the screenwriting enterprise. Students use a "Three-Act Structure" poster to launch their writing progress.

Lesson 2: Understanding Scenes - The Building Blocks of a Screenplay
Using a logline, learners begin the process of sketching the fundamental scenes of a hypothetical movie. Next, students apply scene structure diagramming to their own exciting movie ideas.

Lesson 3: The Scene Outline - Planning Your Screenplay
Students create their movie "blueprints" in Lesson 3, sketching up to fifteen different scenes for their upcoming blockbusters. Working with a partner, learners exchange ideas and get their frameworks for success down on paper.

Lesson 4: How Screenwriters Write - Screenplay Formatting
Form and function of the parts of a screenplay become abundantly clear to learners as they participate in a "table reading." Students have fun as they channel Pitt and Jolie in an exercise that helps them differentiate the unique purpose of individual script elements.

Lesson 5: How to Start a Screenplay - Writing Slug Lines and Transitions
Getting from one scene to the next is one of the most challenging tasks for screenwriters. In this lesson, learners get acquainted with the "fade," "cut," and "dissolve" techniques and begin to see the shape of their storylines.

Lesson 6: What Your Characters Do - Writing Action
From a raised eyebrow to a high-speed chase, all action in a screenplay can be scripted, and its relationship to character is critical. Learners develop "action points" in two activities in this lesson.

Lesson 7: How Characters Talk -The Importance of Dialogue
Dramatic language - the language that moves both stories and audiences - gets its due in this intriguing experiment with dialogue. Learners also test their knowledge of hallmark movie moments in a game of "Name That Quote."

Lesson 8: Writing Dialogue - Deciding What Their Characters Will Say
Before diving in to their own dialogue, learners practice dialogue formatting. Then they begin to reveal their quirky, evil or brainy characters for each scene developed earlier in Lesson 3’s "blueprint."

Lesson 9: Bringing It All Together - Finishing Your Screenplay
Great writers, and even screenwriters, know that sharing their work with others helps them identify their script’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. Feedback from fellow screenwriters in this peer review helps students put their best foot forward - before the cameras roll!

Lesson 10: Your Script Comes to Life - The Table Reading
Scripts at the ready, learners take on the roles of actors and hear the results of their hard work in this culminating activity. Even a "director" gets to participate. Ready? Lights, camera, action!

Being a Director

Lesson 1 -Places Everyone: The Role of a Film Director
In this lesson, you’ll help your students understand the role of a director. No doubt that they’ve probably heard the word “director” before, but it will be your task to help them understand what it means. To help students get a feel for how directors affect a film, you’ll play a game today that asks students to look for distinctions between the styles of different directors.

Lesson 2 - Film as Art: Learning to Think Cinematically
In this lesson, students will learn about mise-enscène,an important aspect of filmmaking borne out of the earliest days of the medium when French filmmakers were first learning to use film technology to tell stories. It's very improtant for student to understand everything in the scene must convey something to the audience.

Lesson 3 - Movie Stars: Casting and Working with Actors
In this lesson students will familiarize themselves with the members of a filmmaking crew who bring the movie’s characters to life: actors. Throughout the production phase of a movie, actors and directors work closely together to interpret a script and turn the words written in a screenplay into a believable story.

Lesson 4 - Take One: Shooting Your Film
In today’s lesson, students begin the most important (and most time-consuming) portion of their movie projects: shooting their films. To do this, they first learn about “shots,” the small video clips that are edited together to make a scene in a movie. To do so, a director and her/his team set up their cameras, lights, sound equipment,etc. They put their sets, props, and actors where they want them.

Lesson 5 - Your Best Shot: Cinematic Techniques
This lesson will add to what students learned in the previous lesson regarding cinematography by discussing another important element of shooting movies: camera angles. There are many camera angles to consider but in these activites you'll focus on these:Establishing shot, Long shot, Medium shot, Close-up and Extreme close-up. 

Lesson 6 - Bright Lights: Storytelling with Light and Color

This lesson also adds some new tools to their cinematography repertoire that they can continue adding to their shot list. specifically focusin on lighting. As you help your students learn, any lighting in a movie is placed intentionally and has an important effect on the viewer.


Lesson 7 - Invisible Art: Editing Your Movie
In this lesson your students will begin to learn to edit their own movies. You’ll demonstrate to your students the three most basic features of any editing software: importing footage, adding footage to a sequence, and adding transitions. Included are instructions for performing these tasks in Windows Movie Maker and Apple’s iMovie.

Lesson 8 - Guiding Your Audience: Storytelling through Editing
In this lesson students learn about the power of transitions in films. Transitions play two roles in the editing process, both a mechanical role in the physical structure of a film when it was physically cut between scenes and the effects help the viewer understand how the story is moving between shots much like transitions in a written story or essay.

Lesson 9 - Finishing Touches: Harnessing the Power of Music
In today’s lesson students add some finishing touches to their films by working on their movies’ sound.This is the final step in the process of making a movie,and your students have worked hard to get here. What started as a brainstorm has now taken shape into a tangible product. With just one more step, their movies will be complete!

Lesson 10 - Rolling Out the Red Carpet: The Movie Premier
In this lesson, you will celebrate with your students and watch their final films! This is a big day. To create your own film from scratch is no easy task, and it is certainly an accomplishment to rejoice in. To celebrate, your students will take part in their own movie premiere. The movie premiere is broken into two parts: 1) a red carpet Q&A with the filmmakers and 2) the screening of their films.