On Monday night we all went to a screening for the finalists of the YOOFTube competition (short films produced by youth in the south east of NSW) that South East Arts put on at the Picture Show Man Cinema in Merimbula. We went last year too and had a great time, coming away with that feeling of ‘awe’ for the youth in our local region. This year was even more cool because four boys out of our homeschooling group put film entries into YOOFTube and made it through as finalists. One of those boys was Lew. The other three, Ptol, Ben and Zach are Lew’s good friends. And Jake is in this photo too. He’s also a really good friend.
Lew, Ptol and Ben have been working on making films for a while now. Every Thursday they get together at each other’s houses and work on their film. It’s a zombie apocalyptic one with lots of blood and gore and tense moments. It’s been a fun interest they’ve had in common and they’ve learnt pretty much everything they’ve learnt about film making and script writing for themselves. They’ve done one small workshop on ipads and filming but that’s it as far as externalised learning goes. All of what they know about films they’ve gained from watching films and TV shows and youtube and information type stuff on the way films happen.
See, this is what I love about unschooling. Kids who are inspired and motivated about something won’t stop until they attain whatever it is they need to get to the place they are headed. I know nothing about film production. Everything I now know I’ve learnt from Lew and the boys. They amaze me with their depth of passion and knowledge and skill acquiring. They learn from one another, through constant nattering and debating and arguing and discussing about movies and actors and producers and directors and cinematography…ummm…what other filmy terms are there? See, I obviously have a lot more to learn!
Some may say that these boys have had too much screen time in their lifetime. I know it’s one of those things at the moment that people, parents in particular, are freaking out about. The whole thing about screens frying and damaging their growing brains. This is a totally different generation to the one we come from and on so many levels it’s just not comparable. And yes, I do see the negatives of the technological age and the impacts it has on us as humans, not just children. I totally get the fear that people have about screens at the moment. I really do. But I can also see the positives and I can only share our personal experiences with screens.
What I see, from my own experiences as a mum to a child who has only ever unschooled, is that his TV and movie watching, the amount of time he spends on youtube, the internet and gaming has given him such a rich understanding about so many things. It has given him a learning experience that I just could not give him nor could any text book or school system. Having the freedom to delve into topics of interest and become fully immersed in them with very few time restrictions has given our unschooling boys the opportunity to develop their love of filming and I have technology and screens to thank for that. The wealth of knowledge online is phenomenal and yep, there is some crap on there, but wow, Lew has developed such an awesome ability to critically analyse information and cipher through it, devising his own logic at the end of it all. It blows my mind sometimes when he speaks to me about stuff. Especially political stuff. And philosophy. And history.
Anyway, back to the YOOFTube competition. So Lew, Ben and Ptol made a film called: Everyone is Different and they entered it into YOUFTube and not only did it get screening time at a local cinema but they also won a $250 prize for Best Documentary (Mokumentary). Pretty cool. And another one of their close friends, Zach, produced a film with his drama group and won a $500 prize for best 15 and under producer. Also pretty cool. It was just so lovely to see 4 homeschooling kids up there producing films with everyone else. Not that I spend much time at all comparing homeschooled and schooled kids, it’s just that sometimes I think we all forget that you don’t always need school to learn stuff. It’s always a great relief to me when I see this kind of thing because, if I’m being totally honest, I’ve had lots of moments over Lew’s lifetime where I’ve thought: Oh man, this is one big experiment really and I so hope it all pans out in the end. usually you’ll see me writing all the positive feelings I have about our unschooling life but of course I’m human and I definitely have had those freaking out moments. I think most parents do about their children’s childhood, don’t they?
The boys work so well as a team, delegating tasks based on their personal strengths and interests. Ben is the go getter of the group. He’s keen to make things happen and I think helps drive the boys forward which is such a great quality. He was the one keenest to enter the film and he was the key producer. Lew and Ptol tend to hold back a bit more and let their insecurities or, perhaps, perfectionist-type natures, over take at times. I know Lew wasn’t keen to go along to the screening because he felt embarrassed about their efforts and about seeing himself on a big screen in front of an audience. But he made it through and I think, in the end, it surprised him how good it actually made him feel about their work. A bit of recognition sometimes goes a long way.
So, needless to say, I feel really proud for our boys and their efforts. They’ve done it all themselves and I just can’t wait to see what the next year or so brings each one of them. Watching them guide their own paths has been such a privilege.
Good on you, guys!
PS Sorry about the crappy photo quality…lighting isn’t great in the cinema.
PPS When I get one, I’ll try and pop a link to their film here.
Ben, giving details to a journalist.