1 May 2020
Life in lockdown clearly poses challenges for everyone at the moment, and schools are no exception. Teachers have been working hard to maintain as many of their pupils’ normal routines as possible, but they face particular challenges in maintaining their usual extra-curricular opportunities. At Abingdon, pupils and staff have shown ingenuity in adapting existing Other Half activities and creating new ones, but the members of the Abingdon Film Unit and its ASiPs alter ego, the Abingdon Film Academy, which combines pupils from Fitzharrys, John Mason and Larkmead schools, have all been surprised at how well they have been able to work under the new circumstances. Ordinarily, different timetables make it impossible for students from all four schools to work together, but now the change to normal routines has allowed all our filmmakers to meet in the virtual world at the same time on Wednesday afternoons.
AFU tutors and students have taken advantage of Zoom and its screen sharing technology to run regular tutorial sessions for all. Filmmakers who have already completed shooting have been able to press on with their original film projects with remote guidance from tutors working at home in London, while others have taken up a new “Isolation Film Challenge” using whatever equipment they have to hand, such as mobile phones. The tutors have set up a competition, so that the best Isolation Films can be shown at the next AFU/AFA screening, which we hope can still take place next autumn.
Lockdown also offers many of us a chance to catch up on those classic films we’ve always meant to watch but never quite got round to. Some providers are helping by making films available to view on online platforms for free. However, the choice can be bewildering, so AFU tutors have helpfully curated lists of recommended films that will turn you from filmphobe to filmbuff in a few easy weekly steps. Take a look at the first two lists at the end of this post.
Finally, lockdown can also be a time to try new skills. OA prize-winning artist and AFU tutor Matt Copson is our current animation expert, who is offering student filmmakers some introductory sessions on animation as part of the Wednesday afternoon sessions, and taking advantage of the latest apps that make this famously time-consuming way of making films a bit more manageable.
Whilst it’s clear that all of us would prefer to be back at school, where we can both work and play together, face to face, Abingdon’s young filmmakers have at least found one silver lining to the current Covid cloud.