In all Sparks Film School programmes, Project Based Learning is one of the fundamental parts of our approach to inspire learning, empower young filmmakers and encourage valuable, lifelong skills.
We believe that everyone learns at their best when they are having fun, immersed, involved and able to take both ownership and responsibility. Project Based Learning is ideal for boosting real-life skills and capabilities. Having learned these valuable, transferable skills, students can then apply them to other situations to help them succeed throughout their life.
What is Project Based Learning?
Project Based Learning is an educational methodology that uses true-to-life projects to facilitate learning and development.
Students are active participants and contributors towards projects with real goals, in the case of projects with Sparks Film School, our members work to make their own fully-fledged film productions from start to finish.
Project Based Learning offers a series of fantastic tools for students to grow their skills and expand their knowledge. It offers a chance for them to take ownership over their own areas and contributions. It also allows them to play to their own individual strengths and create work that they can feel proud of.
Along the way, through Project Based Learning techniques, they navigate challenges, collaborate and begin to develop lots of soft-skills: communication, team work, problem-solving, critical thinking, how to manage their time and resources and leadership.
How do we use Project Based Learning at Sparks Film School?
All our sessions, from our weekly classes to our holiday camp programmes and advanced courses, use Project Based Learning to empower, inspire and encourage skills in our students.
Each term, or each course, follows a project brief with built-in challenges to guide students to explore particular areas, themes or techniques, to engage with them critically and to respond to them creatively.
Student voice is key to us. All the film projects are shaped by the students taking part. They lead and steer the creative development of their own work, to result in a unique, collaborative production every time.
Each film made by a Sparks Film School student is unique to the group making it, with their voices instrumental to the story, the storytelling and all the little details within. We guide them through the process, with our expert team of filmmaking instructors sharing their knowledge and skills, but the application of these to their work is very much led by the students taking part.
In the development of their projects, all our students are fully immersed in the “making of” their films. They devise the storyline and develop the script. They are responsible for the direction of the film, the cinematography, the acting performances, the crewing of each shot and scene, the production design and much of the post-production work. They each make a valuable contribution to several different areas of the production.
The Benefits of Project Based Learning
There are several benefits associated with Project Based Learning, all of which help to enhance learning, capability and confidence. Firstly, students are able to make mistakes – and learn from them. This is vital to them sometimes understanding why some key filmmaking concepts have been around for such a long time and used so consistently in professional productions. Although, sometimes they aren’t mistakes at all – they are breakthroughs, or new discoveries, which help to inspire even further.
As our students practise through regular practical and purposeful filmmaking on their projects, they also expand their capabilities, their knowledge and their skills. This happens incrementally, with each of these attributes building up gradually. Alongside this, their confidence is also growing, stage by stage, as they become more well-rounded and more experienced. We see them become more willing to take creative risks, or to step outside of their comfort zones. We see them start to assert themselves and demonstrate increasingly effective leadership, as well as increasing effective collaboration.
This growth is deep and long-lasting. Unlike with a simple ‘taught’ approach, our students are living and breathing their project work. Engaging in this way leads to deeper understanding and greater retention of subject knowledge.
As it is led by their own ideas and creativity, they are invested in the success of their work (and their learning). They are routinely applying and practising these skills, so that they eventually become embedded and transferable to any other aspects of their life, such as school work or future employment.
What does this mean for filmmaking?
Whilst our film school students are busy building up their transferable project skills, with Project Based Learning, they are also rapidly building up a toolkit of practical filmmaking skills too.
As all our sessions are hands-on and practical, they are readily learning through doing and taking on an active role in all their film projects. This helps them to learn quickly through practice and through the chance to make mistakes.
As well as being a fantastic way to learn filmmaking skills quickly, it also opens up creativity and plenty of room for exploration and experimentation at the same time. This helps them to develop artistry and creativity along the way, which impacts on their filmmaking and their confidence too.
As our film students grow in confidence and see their creativity expand, we see them taking on more creative risks and their own individual styles begin to emerge. For the students who go on to careers in the film or media industries, this is one of the most vital parts of their learning and we love to see their individuality flourish during their time with us.
Learn More About Sparks Film School
Sparks is a youth filmmaking school for ages 5-18. We offer fun, hands on and inspirational filmmaking, animation and photography courses for young filmmakers from our 30+ film schools around the UK.
We’ve worked with over 10,000 young filmmakers since we first started delivering young film courses in 2010.
Our mission is three-fold: to develop skills and talent, to supercharge creativity and to power the creative industries of tomorrow.
You can find out more about our story, our mission, our team and our approach here.
If you’re interested to become a Sparks Film School student, then you can explore our upcoming film courses and opportunities here.