ACS International School Cobham students create innovative film project to overcome COVID-19 restrictions
High School students at ACS International School Cobham have created an uplifting prom-themed film as an innovative way to continue, and evolve, the school’s performing arts programme despite COVID-19 restrictions. Created to a professional standard with help from industry experts, the film is due to be screened at the Everyman Theatre in Esher, Surrey in January 2021.
Recognising the importance of the performing arts, and as a way to ensure this year’s students were able to showcase and develop their drama skills, the film was created as an alternative to the school’s annual musical production which was not able to take place due to COVID-19. The film was created by 25 High School students, aged 14-18, taking Drama at ACS Cobham and was managed by Georgia Sidell, High School Drama Teacher.
To support students in the creation of the film, ACS's drama department brought in industry professionals Bethan Leyshon from BBC Wales as a scriptwriter and award-winning production company, Slick Showreels, whose crew included a full team of cameramen to capture the film, a sound team and director of photography.
Over the course of six weeks, starting in September this year, students chose the uplifting theme of prom and worked together to create a script, choreograph dances, rehearse and act and film the production. Bethan Leyshon, who spent three weeks getting to know students, worked with them to develop a script that embedded their own experiences and anecdotes.
Maxwell, an ACS student who worked on the project, comments:
Working with Bethan was really cool because she has so much experience with what she was doing that it was fun to make and really came out well. It was great to have a designated writer because she was able to pull our ideas together into something coherent
Purposely set in a world without COVID-19, camera techniques were used to create a pre-COVID authenticity throughout the film. The crew shot the majority of the film outdoors, utilising the open and varied spaces of ACS Cobham’s 128-acre campus. Louis Russell, director of the Slick Showreels team, held a Q&A session with students to answer questions on filmmaking, providing students with insider knowledge on the process, what they should look out for on set and how to ease nerves before filming commenced.
On set, the safety of the students, teachers and crew was of the upmost importance and the team worked with a COVID-19 advisor who ensured masks were worn, took temperature checks and provided advice on the impact of COVID-19 safety restrictions on the production.
Barnaby Sandow, Head of School, ACS Cobham, comments: “The arts are invaluable as a profession, a past time and a form of entertainment - seeing our students working on a production that is of equal quality to a professional film has been an absolute pleasure. As a result of this project, not only were students able to work with and learn from high level professionals in the film and television industry, but they now have a film that they can keep for many years to come, even using it in their portfolios if they decide to pursue a career down this route. The students did all of this while working together under very tough circumstances and I’m looking forward to seeing the final cut of the film in 2021.”
Students will be able to watch their film when screened in the Everyman Cinema in Esher in late January, which will be followed by a Q&A session with the industry professionals.