Making Videos With Kids

Filmmaking Develops Kids' Computer and Creative Skills

Girl taking photo of her father by camcorder in hotel lobby, mother smiling
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My daughter loves making videos with me - and by herself. It's been an interest since she was very young, and I know many other kids who enjoy moviemaking. I also loved making videos when I was a kid, but back then the recording and editing equipment were much harder to use! These days, kids see their parents recording and editing videos right on the phones, so of course they want to get in on the fun.

 

If your children love moviemaking, here are some tips for helping them develop their production skills and storytelling abilities.

Easy-to-Use Equipment 

As mentioned above, a smartphone is a great tool for introducing kids to video making. They are more accessible than dedicated video cameras, and less delicate in a child's hands. Especially with younger children, it's nice to just have one button for recording and stopping, and no other distractions. Also, as long have you have a decent case, you can let your child handle the phone and do the recording all by themselves, without much worry about what will happen if they drop it. (Read more: Tips for Cell Phone Recording)

If you have an older child, who wants to have more control over the look of the recorded image, there's a wide range of high quality camcorders available for any budget. (Read more: About.com Camcorders)

When it comes to video editing, there are several free video editing programs that kids with basic computer abilities can easily learn to use.

Movie Maker and iMovie come free with PCs and Macs, and are a good place to start for beginning editors. For younger children, you may have to do the editing for them, but it's a good opportunity to teach them about computer basics while you're teaching them about movie making.

Collaborate With Your Kids

Moviemaking is almost always a team effort, and it can be very rewarding to team up with your kids on a project.

If you already have decent video production skills, you can be a teacher and a helper. And if you're a novice, making a movie is an opportunity for you and your child to learn together and from each other. 

Production Planning & Storyboarding

Sometimes kids just want to pick up the camera and start recording without thinking about what kind of movie they are making. Of course, it's always fun to just let them play with the camcorder and experiment on their own. But it they are interested in developing their filmmaking abilities, you can help by working with them to plan out the production ahead of time.

A basic storyboard is useful for planning out scenes and shots in your movie. You can do this just by sketching out each shot on paper, and then using that as a guide during filming. The storyboard will also help you figure out where you'll need to do the filming, and what kind of props and costumes you'll need ahead of time.

The Joy of a Green Screen

One of the hardest things about making movies with kids is developing story ideas that are actually do-able. Having been exposed to high-budget Hollywood productions, many aspiring filmmakers want their movies to also have complicated scenery and special effects.

The easiest way to make movies like that with kids is to use a green screen. If you've never done green screen recording, it may seem intimidating, but it's actually remarkably simple, and all you need is a bright green cloth! (Read more: Tips for Green Screen Production)

By using a green screen, your kids can draw or find pictures of the most fanciful settings they can imagine to use as the backdrop for their movies. With the right costumes and a little imagination, you can make videos that look like they're set anywhere from outer space to a fairyland castle.

Real Life Stories

It's also fun for kids to make documentary-style films.

They can have a lot of fun interviewing people (read more: Interview Tips), giving video tours, or telling stories about places they've visited or subjects they've researched. These videos can be enhanced with photos or re-enactments to bring the subject to life.

Learning by Watching

You can use your child's interest in movie making to also help them become a critical viewer. When you watch movies and TV, start thinking about how the shows were made, and why the director made certain choices, and talk about those things with your child. It can provide a whole new level of meaning to what you watch, and can give you and your child inspiration and ideas for video making.