Last week I got to help out with the City of Readers summer reading program at Dunedin Libraries. The concept was simple: 1.5 hours to make a movie trailer at the library. Here at Media Melt we make new content every week, should be a breeze right? Well, obviously when there are kids involved, things are never that simple. I visited four Dunedin Libraries and each one had its own pros and cons. I helped the kids with the ideas and recording the shots but for the most part, they knew what they wanted and they knew what they were doing. I learned a lot about iMovie and the trailer tool in those three days and now I'll give you my tricks and tips for making iMovie trailers with kids!
1. ALLOW ENOUGH TIME
Depending on the size of your group and the age of your kids, you will likely need two hours to create a full movie trailer. I had one group that was just two sisters, I think they were about 10 and 12, maybe a bit older. They were the only group that managed to actually finish their trailer. The younger the kids are and the more of them there are, the slower the process will be. Just allow for that.
2. CHOOSE A THEME
This step is a good example of more kids = more time. It takes forever for them to preview each theme and then rewatch the best ones, then decide which one they actually want to make. For three of the groups we had to draw themes out of a hat because (of course) everyone had a different favourite theme. I can highly recommend the Superhero theme and the Scary theme as the two best finished trailers. I probably should have made each group just pick one of those two, but it was cool seeing the process for some of the other themes too.
The iMovie outline is less of an actual outline and more just filling in names for the credits, but it's certainly fun. First you need to come up with a name for your movie, which is a bit easier now that you've decided on a theme. The first group chose the scary theme so went with the name "The Haunted Library of Dunners". This is great because you already sort of know what kind of shots you need to get - spooky places in the library and spooky things happening in the library. Next is the studio name which all groups had so much fun coming up with. Anything with studios, productions or films at the end works really well. Then you can fill in who's the director, executive producer, costume designer etc etc. We only really had directors, cinematographers and actors in all of our groups but every group took the chance to come up with funny names for the jobs we didn't fill.
The storyboard page tells you exactly what kind of shot you need and how long it will be cut to. This makes editing super easy as iMovie pretty much edits it as you go. The blue strips are the words that will appear on screen between shots to explain the story, so I got the kids to fill those in as we filmed the shots. I found they responded better to "ok what happens now?" instead of sitting down before we filmed and thinking about the whole story first.
In each group we had at least one kid that either didn't want to be in front of the camera or their guardian didn't sign the photo release, so they were our cinematographer. Filming is super easy, while you're in the storyboard you click on the shot you want to record and the camera will open. Press record and it will give you a three second countdown before recording. Then the storyboard shot is replaced with what you just shot and you can move on to the next one, or you can edit it.
Once you have recorded your shot, iMovie will always give you the option to edit it. iMovie starts filming from the countdown timer starting and also films a little bit extra at the end. You can scrub through the whole shot and pick the best two seconds from it to put in your trailer. Or you can delete the shot and start again. This "edit as you go" feature is great because as soon as you're done with the last shot, the trailer is finished and ready to preview.
7. WATCHING THE TRAILER
When you're done shooting and editing, press the done button in the top left corner and it will take you to the preview page. Then you can watch your finished masterpiece. iMovie automatically adds in cool overlays and music that matches the editing, so the finished product looks super impressive. The librarians and parents couldn't believe how much we packed into that hour and a half. For the groups that didn't quite fill in every shot of the storyboard, I exported the trailer and cut out the bits that weren't finished using Premiere Pro.
8. PROPS AND COSTUMES
I brought in a box of random props that we have at the Media Melt office and asked the librarians to source anything they could too. Hats and toys and scarfs, anything that might be useful. We have a plastic (almost life-sized) skeleton called Fred and all the groups used him in some way. The props helped prompt a story, obviously if there's a big plastic skeleton there then you'll put a skeleton in your story, if you have a heap of scarves then you'll probably go for a superhero vibe. One kid sees a big coat in the box and suddenly he's a detective - great, ask what happens next and he'll have a story already in his head. It's kind of an obvious one but all the props made my job a lot easier.
So there are my tips for making an iMovie trailer for kids, make sure you have enough time, keep them inspired and you'll end up with something pretty impressive.
If you have any questions leave them in the comment section, otherwise I'll be back next week with a new blog post!
Media Melt is a Video Production Company based in Dunedin, New Zealand. If you have any enquires, feel free to contact us here