Children experiment with a variety of genres to make films on water

So what do you get when you take a bunch of kids, show them some documentaries, teach them how to use a video camera, and then leave them to it?

Based on the evidence, the answer seems to be -- a lot of good films.

Last week, Delhi hosted the premiere of 10 short films produced over the last few months by school-goers in the Capital that focused on the issue of 'Water'. Despite the common theme, what the audience witnessed were 10 ingeniously crafted films which dipped into a variety of techniques to convey their messages -- silent cinema, music videos, mock news scenes and some creative animation. As Rupali Mukherjee of Carrot Films says, “You and I, our ideas are not new, but these children, they come up with different things, they aren’t trying to please anyone or meet standards.”

In December last year, groups of students from nearly 50 schools attended a three to four day workshop on films organised by the PVR Nest with Carrot Films. “We learnt how to handle a camera, the storyline, and writing a script,” explains Anirbaan, a student of Bal Bharti Public school. After that, Anirbaan and his classmates began shooting.

Their film turned out to be a unique take on the universality of our need for water. In a calm montage, a series of students were shown in face-paint depicting first people of different genders, ages and nationalities and then plants and animals as well. Titled 'Beyond Borders', the message it delivered was clear -- when it comes to water, we're all the same.

As the participants found out, actually making a film was the fastest way to learn the process. “I was doing the shooting,” says Urmila, a student of the Purva Madhyamik Vidhyalaya, “She was acting,” she adds, pointing to a friend. “But we all learnt about every part of the production.” It also enhanced their perspective on water. “Earlier I only thought about saving water, but now I've learnt about the importance of proper sewage treatment and of keeping water bodies clean as well.” The film Urmila helped produce dealt with the very issue and was shot by the river Yamuna.

Aahana, a member of the Butterflies organization (a non-profit that works with street and working children) says, “For the children, it was also a very good opportunity to interact with students of other schools, from different socio-economic backgrounds.” Many of the films were produced by students of different schools. She continues, “They had to get comfortable with each other before they could make a film.”

The Butterflies students paired up with members of Windows -- The Art and Craft Corner, to produce a grimly apocalyptic film depicting a scene that might be a precursor to Doomsday; a bunch of people relaying a water bottle across the city to get it to a dehydrated patient.

Through their theatre chain, PVR also plans to screen a few of these films to thousands of customers over the next few months.

Sheru, a student of the Butterflies program, says that “A lot of things that I heard and learnt about water make sense to me now, and I promise I will tell everyone I can about them.” But when asked about how he would like to improve the program, he simply said, “I would like more people to experience it.”