By Ron Martin & Debby Martin
The best way to get started is to have your boys decide what they want their movie to be about. Have a brain storming session and write down every idea mentioned. Remind them that requirement two suggests that the movie be about living the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Here are some ideas to get them started.
- Taking a hike and running into a bear
- Rescuing a stranded animal/scouts
- Saving the planet from Aliens/monsters
Taking your idea to the next level
Just remember, there is always something at stake in a good movie; something important they need to get or save like Shrek saving the princess, Spy Kids rescuing their parents, Treasure Planet using a pirate’s map to search for treasure.
Then, there are always obstacles along the way to create conflict like dragons or bad guys or just plain bad luck.
You then need a hook, a “what if?” Like in Harry Potter – what if a boy could beat the bad guy that no one else could or in Shrek, what if the princess isn’t just a princess but an Ogre at night or what if the people helping you turn out to be the bad guys?
Once you have a main topic, it is now time to make an outline. It is easiest to start with the end of the movie. When you know what the dramatic ending is going to be it will be easier to know what needs to happen in the beginning and middle to make your dramatic ending happen. This part may be easier to do on a white board or chalk board where everyone can see it and it is easy to make changes.
Ask the boys:
- How does our movie end? – Write down the basic details of what they want to happen.
Now that we know how it is going to end, we need to figure out how to get to that great ending.
- How does our movie start?
- Where are we? – mountains, police station, desert etc
- What happens next?
On a camping trip, boys get lost
Beginning – Den is at campsite and preparing campsite. Two boys set up tent, two boys get water and two boys collect wood.
Middle – (1) Den returns to camp after jobs are done. (2) Boys collecting wood find an endangered species and chase after it, not returning to camp. (3)When leaders realize they are missing, two boys and a leader go to get help from Air Med. (4) Everyone else stays in camp to wait for boys to return in panic mode for laughs.
End – Boys are rescued and returned to camp, everyone goes to find wood together.
Writing the script
Brain storming and outlining will probably take a whole den meeting. Requirement 1 says the boys only need to outline the story and by the end of the outlining you should have a pretty good idea of what the boys want to happen in the story, so I suggest you write the script before the next den meeting.
Script writing suggestions:
- Make scenes short so boys don’t have to memorize a lot of words at one time.
- Try to include everyone equally unless one boy says he doesn’t want a big part. (Be prepared for him to change his mind and be open to adding more for him to say during the script reading.)
- Know ahead of time who wants to do what. (Boys that get lost, boys that go to get help etc.) If you don’t know ahead of time, label the parts “Scout 1, Scout 2 etc and decide during the script reading.
- If you are including outside help in your movie like parents, Cub Master, teacher, firemen or Air Med, make sure to ask them before you commit them to your script.
At the next den meeting:
- Read the script with the boys.
- Let them make changes to fit their vision or how they would say a line. It makes it easier to memorize and make a scene seem more natural if it is in their own words.
Storyboarding helps the boys know where to stand in each scene, where the camera will be and where to exit and enter a scene from. This will save a lot of time during filming because everyone will already know where they are supposed to be.
How to storyboard:
Remember, this is not an art project. Stick figures and basic shapes are enough for everyone to get the idea.
You can use the storyboard template in the PDF at the top of this post or if you want more space to draw out each scene, before den meeting, get a poster board and cut it in half.
On one half, draw a square for each scene with room underneath to add some basic instructions about the scene if needed.
Have each boy decide on a simple, creative stick figure to represent himself, something easy to draw but separates their character from the others; spiky hair, bow and arrow in hand, shield, big feet, cape, etc. Put them along the sides of the board so you remember who is who.
Remember to include important props and scenery like trees, buckets, and wood.
If you need to do a closeup for one scene, represent that by only drawing the head and maybe the shoulders of the character(s).
This is a good time to remind the boys that if they are standing behind someone then they won’t be seen on the camera.
If a character is moving during the scene, represent that with an arrow in the direction he is to move.
If the camera is moving then use a wavy line to represent movement in the direction it will be moving.
If you have or can borrow a tripod, this will help with camera stability.
The video camera on your phone works just fine.
Start the recording and then have the boys quietly count to five before they start the scene and then have the camera man count to five before he stops filming at the end of the scene. Some cameras say they are recording but actually take a few seconds before they actually are recording and the same at the end. It may cut off the last word or two when it stops. This also gives you some room to play with when you are editing.
Talk through and practice each scene before you try filming it so everyone knows what they are doing.
Remind the boys to speak loudly, clearly and not too fast so the audience will be able to understand them.
180 Degree rule – if you have two cameras filming a scene, make sure they are both on the same side. If you have one on each side, it disorients the viewers because it will seem like both actors are on the same side and not facing each other.
Remind the boys to face front when they are talking so they can be heard.
Having a small whiteboard that you can have the scene numbers on at the beginning of each clip will make the editing process easier. It took me extra time to put all the clips in order because I had to watch all the ones in the same location over and over to figure out which one I need at different times. It is easy to edit out the beginning of each clip so you don’t have to see the whiteboard every time.
Sound effects ideas
- Rain-pour a bag of rice into a metal pot
- A Punch-slap and punch a pillow
- A bone Break-hold a piece of celery near the camera and slowly break it in half
- The Crash Box-use a shoe box with things like coins, empty cans, rubber balls, pencils etc to make some fun sounds for stumbling or to help explosions.
- Fire-crumple cellophane or wax paper
- Footsteps-hold two shoes together, tap the heals together then the toes. Walking in gravel can be created by using shoes in cat litter.
- Snow Crunching-cornstarch in a leather bag
- Buzzing Insect-wax paper wrapped tightly on a comb then put your lips on it and hum
- Town Bell-tapping pot lids while holding them by the handle
- Everyone’s toy boxes
- Deseret Industries or other local second hand store
- Yard sales
- Face paint
- Halloween Costumes (Stores sell them at a discounted price right after the holiday so it is great to plan ahead or pick up some basic items that most boys would have in a movie as well as face paint)
Free movie-making software
- If you have Microsoft Windows, you may already have “Windows Movie Maker”. Many say it is the best of the free movie making software. If not, you can download it for free at: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/get-movie-maker-download
- Kates Video Toolkit at: http://www.fakewebcam.com/Free-Video-Toolkit.asp
- Free Video Editor at: http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/products/dvd/Free-Video-Dub.htm#.VZ6rHCg0q-1
- Mac computers come with “iMovie”. It can be a little frustrating to figure out.
- Another video editor for the Mac is “Movavi Video Editor for Mac” found at: http://www.movavi.com/mac-video-editor/
If your camera videos in mp4 and you use Microsoft Movie Maker, those clips will not work. You need to convert them to AVI files. There are lots of free converstion software programs online. I used a program called “Any Video Converter”.
There are lots of free sound affects that you can download to add to your movie. (Squealing tires, helicop- ters landing, police car passing, drills, hammers, laughter etc.)
Tape the boys singing scout songs to add music to your movie to avoid copyright issues.
Most movie making software have options for adding titles and credits so take advantage of them to give your movie that extra little something.
Make sure to put “Special Thanks” in the credits to any extra people you put in your movie like firemen, teachers, parents, etc.
When you add a transition between scenes, make sure to leave some of your “quiet count to five” space to give room for the transition without loosing some of your scene to the transition.
Please make sure you understand music and sound affect copyright policies. Some times it will say up front that you can use them for free, but when you read a little further it may be only for a small amount of uses, not put on the web and not to be sold.
It never hurts to ask. The answer will always be no if you don’t ask. Most websites have “contact me” at the bottom. You will be surprised how many people will say yes you can use my stuff to Cub Scouts. Make sure to keep a copy of the permission email they send you for future questions and proof.
For more advanced movie-making tips
There are lots of great tips and ideas on-line. I enjoyed this one: http://coolspotters.com/articles/the-mega-movie-making-guide-for-kids
Remember making little flip charts as a kid with a stick figure jumping? That is what animation is all about. There are lots of websites where kids can use pre-made characters and drop them into scenes to make there own movies. If your boys want to make their own drawings, here are some tips.
- Put your camera on a tripod aimed at the table to that it doesn’t move.
- Paint a background for your movie that does not change.
- Paint your characters on clear plastic sheets that you can lay on top of the background so you can move him around without having to draw everything over and over.
- For a simple movie, don’t have a background and draw your character on a white board. Then only change the parts of the character that you have to as the movie progresses. Don’t move the white board so your character doesn’t do unintentional jumps when he shouldn’t be moving.
- Keep your characters simple because your boys will be drawing them over and over.
- Just a heads up – it takes 10 pictures for 1 second of video. That means it will take 600 pictures for a one minute movie.
Things you need: Clay, digital camera preferably on a tripod to minimize movement, basic stage.
Make characters, make sure all can be seen by the camera, take a picture, move your character a LITTLE bit, take another picture until all movement has been created.
To extend the length of your movie without having to take a lot more pictures, have the character talking with very little movement like hold up an object and then tell the audience about it, then use the object. The Character holding up the object can last for a few seconds of movie instead of having to have 8-10 pictures for 1 second.
Some simple ideas: A basic person shape doing a cartwheel or explaining how to make a pizza, a flower blooming, a hand waving. With something like a cartwheel, after he has done his complete circle, you can use the same pictures again to do a second cartwheel to extend the length of your movie with a little extra moving at the end to finish it off. No one said it needed to be an hour long feature. It can be just a few seconds to feel like a success!
So, biggest tip – KEEP IT SIMPLE, MAKE IT FUN!