This year at Bramley Fulfilling Lives we are… At the Movies! Based-on this group’s love of drama and theatricality, Ellie, Maya and I have been enjoying exploring genres of film and soundtrack with all of the participants to bring new scenes to life. As in previous years, we are again working together with Bramley Primary School to develop community links and learning between some of the children and adults here in Bramley. We are using the camera skills of interdisciplinary artist Maya to make a film, which is something totally new to the group. And so we have been weaving together Ellie’s drama/theatre experience and my dance/choreography with filming to invite the group to develop their performance skills which are already very strong.
In week one we arrived to see that the centre was as buzzing and busy as ever and many waved to us with instant recognition. Ellie and I introduced the theme and it seemed as though the group were very keen and had lots of responses when we asked – ‘What is your favourite film?’ We realised that everyone had a quick and keen answer, there were such a wide range of responses and also some surprises too – Jurassic Park, Disney, Comedy, Batman, Scooby Doo, Batman, Love Actually, Star Wars, and Horror were amongst the list. It was soon clear that watching films is a shared favourite activity across all group members both within the centre and at home. The brilliant staff here know the group members so well and were able to confidently help everyone communicate their interests. Ellie and I played some film music of contrasting genres and we began to move with the music and transport ourselves to the different lands, with some characters also emerging. Ellie then led us into a film guessing-game with props where we created frozen film stills for one another to guess
In week 2 we introduced the theme of Physical Comedy and silent film. We worked with mime and exaggerated gesture by starting with very ordinary actions such as walking, waving and climbing. These grew to larger exaggerated moves and led us into a physical journey and dance where we told a story with our bodies. S made us take a big splash into the water and C pulled-us out with a rope and led us to a sunny desert island. We then created some scenes with the group which were all silent – no words just actions. The starting points were ‘On the Train‘ and ‘At the Ice Rink‘. The participants thought about things which could happen in these scenes, and there began to be many surprising twists and turns! The Ice Rink started-out gracefully and elegantly with ice dancers gliding along and enjoying ice-creams. But then the dancers and ice creams went flying and M took delight in being a Shark which scared the skaters away!
We took these ideas into the school and the children seemed to enjoy being exaggerated and larger than life. We worked with the same scene headings to see how the children would take these on, and they came up with some fantastic ideas which also included sharks and also a cracking, collapsing ice-rink!
In week 3 we continued with the comedy theme and planned to film footage of the scenes which we had created in the previous week. The children were visiting on this day and so many of the adults were very excited and happily anticipated their arrival. As the children arrived they joined the circle respectfully and keenly. We began with a name and expressions game – passing the giant picture frame around and each showing a mood exaggerated on our faces. Some of the children confidently made large and animated facial expressions and this made many in the group laugh. We then began to work on our Ice rink and Train scenes incorporating the children and creating scenes which had dramatic effect. There were also some great directors too and J enjoyed using the director’s megaphone to shout the scene headings and directions, and finally ‘Cut!’. Some of the children and adults also captured the scenes on storyboards which they drew live as the scenes were happening. Everyone was focussed on the task and it felt good to create a mini production together as a whole.
The children seemed very energised and happy as they left and gave some positive comments. B said ‘I enjoyed meeting everyone, and the actions and talking to people’.
In week 4 we introduced the film genre of fantasy, and explored different super hero characters, since there had been a lot of interest in this type of film on previous weeks. We took some time to think about our favourite super heroes and what kinds of powers they may have – flying, invisibility, strength, speed, and explored lots of movements and gestures to get a feeling of what this would feel like. T chose to be Wonderwoman and spun into the circle and C had the strength and intensity of the Hulk. Then we put on flying capes and helped one another to fly across the space, weightless and free! There has been some interest from some participants to film and photograph this year, and S and C followed with the iPad as the super heroes went on their mission. Since the session was so physical and energetic, we also offered a making activity where group members could make their own superhero masks and have a break from flying!
In week 5 we visited the school again with some of the adults and we focussed on Magic in the Movies! With Harry Potter as inspiration, we cunjured new spells with magic ingredients and brought these to life with movements and wizard voices. We recorded these spells to take back to BFL and to develop further with the adults.
With the adults at the centre, we created water, fire and lasers in our hands and zapped one another. We the put this magic into a giant cauldron pot, stirring and swirling and adding imaginary ingredients such as bats wings and fragrant flowers. V wanted to be in the middle of the pot and conjure the spell from the inside. And then we listened to the voice recordings which the children had created and everyone was drawn-in to their expressive voices and imaginary ideas. We then created choreography and gestures to accompany the spells, and Maya set-up a station for making individual colourful wands and mystical head pieces to use in the performances.
A striking thing which Ellie, Maya and I have noticed this year is an increased network of support between the participants within the group. S has been co-facilitating at times, supporting other participants and newer group members to understand our instructions and making sure everyone is included. This has been unplanned and seems to be a natural development within the group which is delightful and encouraging to witness. Also we have noticed how naturally the adult and children groups are integrating – although we are supporting this to happen it seems so much easier than in previous years, possibly because the strong relationship between BFL and Bramley Primary which has become so established over the 5 years.
Now we are planning an exciting trip to Armley Mills Industrial Museum where some members of the group will get the chance to preview their film in a real cinema. And a star-studded celebration event with a red carpet, walk of fame and lots of glamour!