We know how important it is for children and young people to develop soft skills.
Soft skills development offers so much for the future, not just for children or teenagers, but for all of us at any stage of life. Wherever we are – whether we’re learning how to make new friends, thinking about our futures, exploring how to navigate that tricky work situation, or motivating ourselves to take on a new challenge – our bank of soft skills is there to help us succeed throughout our whole life.
The more soft skills we have, and the more advanced they are, the better prepared we are to take on whatever life throws at us. The earlier we start developing our soft skills, the better.
For children and young people, participating in different kids activities can be a fantastic way to build up soft skills. By the way, we’d absolutely recommend hobbies and activities for soft skill development and confidence growth in grown ups too!
Taking part in kids classes, whether it’s arts, sports, STEM classes etc, can help to boost confidence, friendships, soft skills and eventually employability and career progression too.
We see soft skill development taking place every single week at Sparks Film School. It’s truly a joy to see individuals become more confident in speaking up, using their voice and influence, showing leadership and solving problems for themselves.
Here, we’re going to look at the details of how filmmaking in Sparks Film School classes can help with soft skills development for children and teenagers. We’ll share some of our insights into how improved soft skills can help make better films too.
We’re incredibly passionate about helping students to not just develop their knowledge and skills in filmmaking, but their soft skills as well. We want to see them all thrive as confident individuals, both on and off the film set.
Filmmaking for Soft Skills Development:
We find that filmmaking is a great way to boost lots of different skills at the same time. It can be an intensive, immersive experience, which for many of us, can help to accelerate many forms of learning, but certainly soft skill development.
Filmmaking relies on effective communication, strong team work and collaboration. It also requires good management of time and resources to deliver an end product film.
Making a film takes planning. It takes organisation. It also uses critical thinking, problem solving and evaluation. It also takes leadership, decision making, a lot of creativity, commitment and discipline.
All of these soft skills can be readily developed in the process of making films. Soft skills are valuable not just to the process of filmmaking but for many aspects of life. Students can transfer these skills to school work, exams, further learning, personal projects and in the future to their employment prospects.
How do we develop soft skills at Sparks Film School?
Every course has a project goal – to produce the best possible film we can in the time we have available, in response to a particular project brief.
For instance, at our filmmaking classes this term (Spring 2023), we’re exploring The Camera Never Lies. This theme explores different storytelling formats and techniques: factual narratives, fictional narratives and all the grey areas in between.
Students will explore documentary filmmaking and lots of ways media can misrepresent reality. Their productions from this term should explore this in some way.
For their production projects, they devise their own storylines in response to this brief. They have to collaborate to come up with ideas and agree on a direction and a story. They take on all the planning for their production, which includes organising themselves and sourcing locations, props, sets and costumes. They also have to shoot their films, star in their films and ultimately edit them too. All of this is challenging them and enabling them to learn through taking on project based responsibilities. You can find out more about how we use Project Based Learning here.
Here are just a few of the soft skills that students at Sparks Film School develop through participation in our filmmaking classes.
Communication is one of the most essential soft skills and one of the most important in terms of employability and future success.
Our film classes encourage communication skills in a number of ways and during their time with us, students readily develop communication skills.
Firstly, filmmaking is an art that is all about communication. Filmmaking is storytelling for the screen. Everything you see in a film production is actively communicating a message. Our students are thinking about effective storytelling and communicating messages every step of the way, every instance contributing to the development of their communication skills. From a particular line of dialogue, to the way an actor delivers that line, to the casting of that character, all of this has been determined with the aim of communicating a clear message to the audience.
On top of that, there is even more communication going on in the visual details. The colours a character is wearing, what can be seen in the background of a shot, the direction a character moves in… all of this is also working to communicate information from the filmmakers to the audience. Visual storytelling is something we look at really closely within our filmmaking classes.
Behind the scenes, the filmmakers are also communicating non-stop with and to each other. The process is highly interactive and crew members are routinely communicating in one-to-one discussions, group conversations, as a whole crew, and with their instructors too.
The filmmakers have to discuss their ideas, consult with each other, debate and ultimately come to creative decisions together. The writers then have to communicate effectively with the director, the director with the actors and the crew, the crew with other. They are often under time pressure to reach a certain point and the more effectively they can communicate with each other, the faster and more efficiently they are able to work. The best productions are almost always made by the teams that can communicate well with each other.
Almost every film production is the outcome of highly effective collaboration between lots of different contributors. If you ever watch until the end of the credits at the end of a feature film, you’ll see hundreds of names – all the people who have been involved in making the film, from the cast right through to the accountants.
There is a huge amount of work that goes into making a film. Even in the case of low budget short films, there are still a number of collaborators involved.
In our filmmaking classes, we encourage all the young filmmakers to collaborate with each other. Just in the same way that you can’t make a feature film with just a handful of people, you can’t be ambitious about your filmmaking without working with a team. By working together, filmmakers can ultimately achieve so much more.
But, working collaboratively isn’t easy, especially not for our youngest filmmakers in Studios 1 and 2. Working collaboratively is a skill that’s learned. With regular practise, it becomes easier for our filmmakers and they become stronger collaborators who can work together as a team.
Leadership is another of the key soft skills that we help our young filmmakers to develop.
In our film courses, through the way we facilitate, everyone taking part has the opportunity to apply creative leadership towards their production. This can be in the role of director (everyone has a turn at directing, as well as all the other roles), or in the role of a Director of Photography, as an actor, a screenwriter, an editor or within one of the production roles.
We also encourage leadership in the way the make the film – our students take on ownership of their productions and are responsible for producing their work.
By the time a student reaches Studio 5 (our group for ages 14+), we see them start to take on more and more leadership ability, with the skills to make decisions, to motivate and guide the others around them and to clearly assert their own “voice” over their work and their productions.
Making a film is likely to throw up many challenges, especially in the context of filmmaking classes. Our students might find one of their actors is unwell and can’t come in that week, so the schedule needs to be adapted, or the role recast, or another more creative solution has to be found.
They might find that their original rushes don’t look as good as they first thought and so reshoots need to be added in.
They might find that they lose natural light too early, and have to consider lighting their set, or that they overrun filming that must-have tracking shot and need to drop some setups from their shot list.
In any given week, a production might throw up several challenges that they need to respond to and find solutions for – and we absolutely love to see it, because they become so inventive and so resilient to problems and surprises. When given the space to solve their own problems, it’s amazing how resourceful they can become.
When regularly working on their own productions, we see our film students become expert problem solvers with fantastic problem solving skills.
Resource Management Skills
As another area of our soft skills development, Sparks Film School students also build up a number of resource management skills through taking on responsibilities within their own filmmaking projects.
Time Management Skills
With a limited amount of time on each project, and specific production tasks to complete, our students very quickly familiarise themselves with how to work quickly and how to manage their time.
They contribute towards, or in the case of our older studio groups, completely take on scheduling for their film shoots. If they know they have three sessions to film six scenes or more, they start to prioritise, set themselves deadlines, communicate about time management and focus on meeting the needs of the project.
As their time management skills develop, they start to critique their ideas. “Is that achievable within the time frame?” “Is that the best use of time at this point or could we approach it differently?”
We’ve had lots of feedback and observations from parents over the years, telling us they had noticed a different attitude towards completing homework and a better understanding of how much they can commit to.
In terms of soft skills, this is incredibly useful at any stage of our young filmmaker’s life and it’s simply down to their ownership of their own projects.
Project Management Skills
Along with time management, our students also develop skills in project management, including how to share and delegate responsibilities, how to manage and allocate their resources, plan out their time and how to work together to achieve their project’s goals.
From start to finish, they’re learning what it takes to manage and deliver a project. They’re managing their resources, communicating with other another, assessing progress, adapting their initial plans and responding to challenges and surprises.
We also encourage them to reflect on their programs and evaluate their work, so that they are continually learning and developing those skills for use on their next project too.
There are many more soft skills, as well as many more details that go into our students’ experience with us during their filmmaking classes. There are plenty of transferable academic skills too.
We’ll continue to share more of the varied learning and many benefits our students take away from their time with Sparks Film School here on our blog.
If you’d like more information on our filmmaking classes, holiday camp programmes or other opportunities for young filmmakers, you can get in touch with us here.
You can also find your nearest Sparks filmmaking classes and register for a free trial session with us here.
Find out 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.