Paper Airplane Bloopers

If you have ever done a video project with students, you may notice how much they love bloopers. I’ve had kids who have finished a project and then asked, Can we make bloopers? As if bloopers were something planned instead of unexpected. They would actually stage the bloopers. And yet, bloopers add a real sense of fun to making movies, right? I always let them go ahead.

Anyway, I was working on a welcome video for our Making Learning Connected MOOC project (sign up now — the adventure begins on June 15), and we had this idea of paper airplanes coming into the frame. I’m not sure it is going to work. While I was filming, I had my youngest son shooting airplanes at me. Needless to say, it took us a few rounds. I didn’t get a good video, but I did get some bloopers … so why waste the footage?

Peace (in the miss and near miss),


ReDiscovered Lines: My Own Found Poem

I’ve been writing a lot of poems this month and yesterday, I decided to work on a found poem with my own poems, taking pieces from a bunch of them and stringing them together into something new. Then, I remembered that I have been wanting to try out the iMovie App on our iPad (a bargain for the $5 it costs, by the way). I shot the video all in our sun room, trying to vary the shots.  I was trying to make the video angles and ideas part of the poem itself, but I am not sure it worked out like that. The only shot not in that room is the last one because I wanted darkness to end the poem. That one was done in a closet.


See what you think:

Peace (in the video poetry),


Movie Stardom: My Son and the Youth Film Festival


Last summer, my then-7-year-old son  (he’s now 8) rounded up a bunch of friends and relatives and produced an 8 minute movie called Robbers on the Loose. The project was inspired by similar movie-making ventures by older kids in the neighborhood, including my older sons. As a production assistant (!) to my young son, I helped with some of the holding-of-the-camera and some of the video editing. But the story, the direction, the props (including our dog) were all of his ideas, and the end result was a goofy sort of cops/robbers story complete with a chase and battle scene. In our city, there is an annual Youth Film Festival that celebrates young filmmakers, and we sent his movie in on a whim.

We learned this week that his film has been accepted (the festival is today) and in the local newspaper yesterday, his name and his movie were featured in the promotional material. Boy, was he excited!

Robbers Loose news item

If you happen to be in Northampton today, from noon to 3, come check out the Northampton Youth Film Festival at the Academy of Music. We’ll be there, popcorn in hand, and maybe a camera of our own to try to capture the sense of his movie on the big screen.

Here is the trailer we had done for it way back in the summer:

Peace (in the moviemaking),


My Son Turns the Camera on the Neighborhood

My eight-year-old son’s summer project was a documentary video about our neighborhood. My wife and I helped a little bit (holding the camera when he did the interviews and I helped with the editing). But all the ideas of what to shoot and where to shoot, and what to ask, were all generated from his curiosity about the place where he lives. His project has me wondering how to get my students to do more of this.

Peace (in the ‘hood),


Digital Writing Month: A Hyperlinked Video Poem

As part of Digital Writing Month, I am refashioning an old multimedia poem piece using the YouTube annotation feature. With that tool, you can embed links in a video to other videos — in this case, all of the poems as videos are connected together in one larger project.  I’m not sure if this just gets too confusing to experience.

Peace (in the video poem),

Video Talent: My Son and Friends Take First Prize

My older son has really become a whiz with shooting and editing video. He does it for school projects; he works on short movies with his friends; and he does it to enter contests to gain recognition and cash. While I can take some credit for getting him behind the camera at an early age with our stopmotion movie adventures, he is at the age where I barely know what he is up to. (so far, so good, though).

Last night, he and three friends won first prize in a local contest to celebrate our city’s bike/rail trail. They shot and edited and submitted two videos — one with interviews of folks riding the trail on a summer day and the other is a tongue-in-cheek video about “what you can do on the rail trail.” That one ends with a friend playing dead. Turns out, that is the one that won first place (so at least the rail trail folks have a good sense of humor).

The boys will get a nice cash prize, which I assumed they would split up, but they have already decided to re-invest the money into the “full length” feature they are working on. The script has been in the works for about a month, and they are using Google Docs to write collaboratively. The cash will be used for props for the movie (not sure of the plot, but there was some talk of how they could stage a scene in a nightclub … hmmm). Look out, Hollywood!

Peace (in the vid),


Summer of Video: The Bike Trail Project

The other day, I shared out what my youngest son has been up to with a flip video camera, but really, he has been mostly inspired by his 14 year old brother, who has developed a real gift and feel for video. This stretches way back to when I taught him about stopmotion. (see his old website where he posted a bunch of his movies)
This summer, I saw a contest through a local group that promotes our rail trail/bike path, and I suggested that he create a video and enter (and maybe win some prize money). He got together with a bunch of friends, and they created two videos. The first one is slightly funny (or hilarious, depending on your age) and the second one is more serious, with interviews of folks on the trail.
My son did all the editing in iMovie, which I never taught him. I like how he is seeing the editing process as composition (notice the slow-down effects, the moving between interviewees, and angles.) Both videos came out great, particularly when you consider that no adult had anything to do with the planning, shooting and editing.
The Fun One:

And The Serious One:

Peace (on the rail),


A Summer of Video, part one

This summer, my wife and I decided to buy a couple of cheap video cameras for our boys, and let them get creative with the devices. My older son has a real talent for video and our younger son is getting there, although mostly he likes to perform in front of a camera on a tripod. I’ll share out some videos of my older son tomorrow, but look at this one from my youngest. What I like about it is that he actually took an idea from his brother (using video to create “magic”) and vamped on it himself.

Right now, I am helping my youngest son to complete a documentary movie (of sorts) about our neighborhood. He has been interviewing neighbors and family about life here in our neck of the woods. I am helping him with the editing, since using iMovie is still a bit tricky for him.
Peace (in the vid),

Remembering the Collaborative ABC Movie Project

These videos were in my Google Video archives as part of our Collaborative ABC Movie Project from a few years ago, as my friend Bonnie and I sought to explore digital storytelling with a bunch of other connected friends. The other videos are scattered about in other people’s collections or hard drives, no doubt (we had used the now-extinct site, JumpCut, to pull them all together and even edit them together on Jumpcut, which was a pretty neat experience). I still got a kick out of seeing what we were doing with that project, and thinking about how much I learned about digital storytelling, collaboration and coordinating a huge project.

Head to the ABC Movie Playlist

Peace (in the stories),


Movie Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

So, every blogger in the universe is probably reviewing (or has already reviewed) The Hunger Games movie. I’ll keep it short here.

I’ve only read the first book in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, so my “bigger picture” of the narrative is fairly limited. I did enjoy the book (but found it a bit violent, just like her Gregor the Overlander books) and I enjoyed the movie, too. I took my 11 year old son with me to the packed theater on the Sunday afternoon matinee. He is an avid reader, but admitted that he could not get “into” the book, The Hunger Games.

“I am only one of four kids in our whole class who hasn’t read it,” he admitted.

The movie is pretty faithful to the book, as I recall it. It was not like The LIghtning Thief, where we walked out of the theater shaking our heads at the changes that had been made and wondering, why in the world would they do that? I think the casting in The Hunger Games was nicely done. I did feel an emotional connection with Katniss, and my son and I were both shattered to watch Rue die. We both jumped out of our seats when those genetic dogs jumped out of the dark, too, even though we knew it was coming. The two hours and 20 minutes did not seem like a lifetime in our seats. We were hooked right from the start.

The one thing I miss from the book was getting inside the head of Katniss, as she gets conflicted feelings about the two boys: the one she left behind and the one she needs to survive. I also missed her simmering anger at the Games itself, and how she refuses to be a pawn, even though — in the end — she is. For me, those elements of Katniss are what made the book special. Those inner dialogue and inner conflicts are hard to translate into the big screen, I know. But it gave a certain flatness to Katniss in the movie.

Overall, though, The Hunger Games movie is a hearty thumbs up — from one who has read the book (me) and one who hasn’t (my son). I wonder if seeing the movie might get him interested again …

Peace (in the games),