Project Description

‘The Water Catchers 2014’

kids video competition


A video competition for kids run by Hunter Water

Channel Zero approached with what first seemed a near impossible ask. To film nine 3 minute short films written by 10yr old children, in one week in the Hunter Valley. This meant that we would only have 4hrs shooting time for each of the 9 schools + 1 hr for setup and bump out – no mean feat. Each of the films would go live on the Hunter Water site as part of a video competition.

Having had significant experience working with children in the past, we knew that the key to making this job manageable would be setting creative boundaries and having loads of pre-production time. So with Channel Zero as our go-between we immediately recommended that the three minute short films be constructed with a maximum of 4 scenes in a single location.

As soon as the scripts were submitted and the finalists selected, ginja ninja went to work on editing the children’s work to make the script shootable. In some cases, the stories were almost untouched but for some of the younger kids it was tricky to reformat the script for our purposes without losing the unique vision of the children. Prop and costume lists were created almost immediately so that Channel Zero had time to source and create the production elements for each of the short films. We also liaised with the schools offering them support in terms of approaching the rehearsal process as our budget didn’t allow for rehearsal time ahead of the shoot.

Again, due to budget constraints our crew consisted of Amber Todd – Director and Sound recordist and Morgan DeLaPorte who was the Director of Photography. Charlotte Baldwin our client at Channel Zero was an excellent stand by props and all around runner throughout the week. The groups of kids became actors, boom operators, grips and gaffers on set as we recruited all available bodies into the making of the films for the video competition.

The kids were fantastic – so excited and we were blown away by the support of the parents and teachers. Given that we had had to remove so much of the power from the writers during our intense pre-production period we were careful to offer explanations for the changes on set and to let the writers be involved in some of the decisions on the day. On the whole the kids seemed to be really happy with the filming and we can only hope we helped encourage some future ‘Bigelows’ and ‘Spielbergs’ that week!

Our short but intense post-production proved to be a breeze as we shot Red Epic and finished HD, giving us room to crop and re-frame, grade and complete special effects.