The 11am screening at Storm Cinema Portlaoise on Wednesday 27th May last is one not likely to be forgotten. There 300 children from 8 schools in the Laois Education Centre area had the opportunity to see on the big screen the films they had made through their participation in the Films in Schools (FÍS) programme.
This year the FÍS Film Awards which is now in its 5th year, saw the emergence of 3 new schools participating in the project. St Paul’s Primary School, Portlaoise made their film debut with their film ‘The Magic Shamrock’ which scooped the award for ‘Best Entertainment Film’. Sacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore entered their film ‘Most Haunted’ for which they earned ‘Best Horror Film’. St Mary’s CBS, Portlaoise made their entry into the world of film in the Storm Cinema last week not with one but two films and scooped two Awards, ‘Best News Production’ for their short film ‘Where did all the meat go’ and ‘Best use of Location’ for their film ‘A visit to Emo Court’.
Sacred Heart Primary School, Portlaoise, submitted two entries, ‘A Midsummers Ball’, which received the award for ‘Best Period Drama’ and ‘Old Joe’ which received the prestigious ‘Best Camera and Cinematography’ award. Ballyadams Primary School were back again this year with their new film ‘BAA Advertisement’, which scooped the award for ‘Best Production Design’. ‘The King’s Secret’, made by the pupils of Scoil Eoin Pól 2 in Tullamore won the award for ‘Best Screenplay’. Carrig National School, Birr produced a series of Advertisements called ‘Commercial Chaos’ for which they scooped ‘Best Performance’ and lastly, but by no means least VTOS produced their film ‘Hells Hospital’ and scooped the award for ‘Best Art Direction’ for the art and design of their puppets and set.
Laois Education Centre Director Jim Enright expressed ‘his delight with the participation levels this year and in particular with the new schools coming on board. The teachers involved are very enthusiastic even though it is a huge but obviously enjoyable commitment from all involved.” He thanked all involved in supporting the FIS project particularly the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) who provided the wherewithal for training and had a special word of thanks for the administrative staff in the Education Centre namely Catherine, Aine and Margaret Mary.
Many teachers have attended short courses on their own time during the winter months on film making. Once the teachers have acquired the art and skills of film making they introduce Film into the classroom where children are taught the basics of film making and then it is over to them to plan, shoot and edit the film. Scripting, storyboarding, casting, acting, directing, operating the camera, lights, wardrobe, hair, makeup, props and sound effect were just some of the roles taken on by the children.
The Chairperson of Laois Education Centre, Kathleen O’Connor thanked the staff of The Storm Cinema Portlaoise for their cooperation again this year. She also spoke of the importance of using film to mediate part of the school curriculum, where it certainly gives added value to creative writing process and promotes the children’s appreciation of, understanding of and response to film.