Teach Film Concepts Through iMovie

1 Dec

Learning how to create films was a challenge; but teaching others to create good film is a bigger challenge. Every day is a battle between getting people to understand the value of a good story and match that with the technical skill to pull it off. Most of the time, I can sell the idea of a good story – though it takes practice – it is easy to learn the value and appreciate a well told story. It’s the technical side of film that often scares most people away. My students – or adults – see what the editing panels in Final Cut or Adobe and tend to panic as they are unsure where to start.  Thanks to apps like iMovie on the iPad and iPhone the process has been simplified. Now, I can teach the basic concepts of story telling without creating a fear in others of not being sure what to do next.

The best place to start is with iMovie’s trailer feature. You don’t need to worry about audio, music is already done as well, and it tells you via a story board exactly what shot to get for your clip and how long the clip should be. What’s more, record the clip directly in iMovie and save yourself some time by not having to import media. This will take time. In my class I have two iPads, so I have to copies of iMovie. Some students opted to get iMovie on their iPhones, that was there choice, I did not require it. It does help and I do let them know they will use the app a lot.

Screen shot of a trailer template in the iMovie app for iPad.

There are twelve trailers to choose from: Adrenaline, Bollywood, Coming of Age, Expedition, Fairytale, Narrative, Retro, Romance, Scary, Superhero, Swashbuckler, and Teen. Each one has prebuilt effects, transitions and titles. All you add is the text and the video clips.

I made a few trailers on my own to see how everything fit together, my daughter had a great time starring in each video and both grandparents enjoyed watching them. I encourage you to play and use willing candidates, kids are always willing to do a movie, kids love pictures of themselves (at least my daughter and her cousins do).

The first time I did this assignment I handed the iPad to the kids and told them to go film. My advanced students did better, but my beginning students did not do so well. Even with the built in storyboard and outline, the kids just ran out and filmed random items, often re-shooting much of their content after the fact. I needed to get the kids to plan. So, I created handouts for each storyboard to use to plan the shots. Now, since I was limited to the two iPads, kids had to present their finished storyboard to me in order to go out and start filming.

The planning helps a lot, filming goes much quicker and the finished products tend to be a bit better this way. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce content, get the kids thinking about the film process, identifying shot types (with visual reinforcement) and creating a professional looking trailer. At this point I have the kids thinking and using the terminology and I can get them excited because it is not very hard to finish this project. Now I can get them excited and more open to using some of the advanced software as they are excited about the work and not as intimated by their lack of skill (they are willing to play).

There are many things you can do with trailers: unit introductions, character bios on stories, trailers about novels in class, historical figures, science, or as final projects. Making a trailer is easy, looks professional and does not take a lot of time. Additionally, if you do not have the app, feel free to film clips with your phone or other camera and input them into iMovie on your Mac. On your Mac you can print out your outline and storyboard, still pretty easy to use and does the same job. You can still Start playing and see what you can create.

There are 12 different Templates for the iMovie trailers, find out which one works best for you and your students. 

Individual Links

Adrenaline, Bollywood, Coming of Age, Expedition, Fairytale, Narrative, Retro, Romance, Scary, Superhero, Swashbuckler, Teen



3 Responses to “Teach Film Concepts Through iMovie”


  1. ETC 2013 Video Production | Workshops with Matt Soeth - February 23, 2013

    […] Film Concepts Through iMovie […]

  2. CADA Camp Staff Development | Workshops with Matt Soeth - July 23, 2013

    […] Film Concepts Through iMovie […]

  3. ETC 2014 | Workshops with Matt Soeth - February 25, 2014

    […] Film Concepts Through iMovie […]

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