Whitman Middle School is a large diverse public school in northwest Seattle. Christopher S. King, the Media Literacy/Video production teacher and his students are creating some awesome book trailers.
“Our favorite part of the making this book trailer was exploring the story and characters in more depth. We learned what the kids were actually going through.” (Skylar & Teresa – GONE)
For the assignment, students start out analyzing movie trailers and book trailers. We talk about what makes a trailer work . . . or not work. As most kids are exposed to trailers on a regular basis, they already have a pretty good idea as to structure. The biggest challenge is ultimately getting what’s in their heads onto the screen.
By the time students start producing trailers, they’re well on their way to learning the basic skills of screenwriting, cinematography and editing. Most of the emphasis up to this point has been on very basic storytelling – using no dialogue. “We discovered that the book is about friendships and not just about basketball.” (Sam & Tre – THE MILLION DOLLAR SHOT)
A number of students worked with their Language Arts teachers in choosing a book for their trailer. They had to make sure they chose a story that both held their interest and at the same time was actually feasible to produce.
Some of the trailers were recently screened at a student assembly, and according to our school Librarian, Chris Gustafson, several students came to her afterwards requesting books from the trailers. Success!
“It had been recommended by our school librarian and teachers . . . and everyone liked the book.” (Ellie & Taylr – THIRTEEN REASONS WHY)
“Elephant Run is an inspiring tale so we wanted to popularize it so people could recognize how suddenly things can change.” (Manny & Sam – ELEPHANT RUN)
What was your favorite part about making the book trailer?
“We had a ton of fun filming – making the book come to life.” (Rachel & Kajsa – GIRL, STOLEN)
What was the hardest part about making the book trailer?
“The hardest part of shooting was trying to make a convincing Burmese jungle. We had to find areas with vines, ferns and no maple leaves.” (Manny & Sam – ELEPHANT RUN)
“Having a believable blind character.” (Rachel & Kajsa – GIRL, STOLEN)
Did you discover anything about the book/story while producing the book trailer?
“We discovered how some of the scenes we shot were really important in the plot.” (Ellie and Taylr – THIRTEEN REASONS WHY)
“We discovered more about how Mia, the main character, felt about synthesia, because we had to coach someone who hadn’t read the book how to play the part.” (Elaine & Sofia – A MANGO SHAPED SPACE)