From classics like The Wizard of Oz to modern blockbusters like the Harry Potter series, kids are captivated by the magic of cinema. It’s where animals can talk, people can fly, and places far away can seem so near. With some movie magic, children can believe for a little bit that they’re “not in Kansas anymore.”
This is why filmmaking can be an engrossing and fascinating activity for children—they can make their inner world become a reality. “Making movies gives kids the chance to creatively explore and interact with their world, and then have something concrete to show off,” says Lauren Jill Ahrold, the artistic director of Imagine Me Kids, a NYC-based organization that teaches the ins-and-outs of film, media, and theater.
At Imagine Me Kids, children 8-10 years old can enroll in the I Make iMovies class, choosing either a directing and writing focus or an acting track. After they learn their respective skills, they join together to go through the auditioning and casting process. This aspect of collaboration and teamwork is one of the reasons filmmaking is not only a satisfying creative outlet, but also an important learning lesson—it teaches kids to work together.
“Young children learn so much about having to work as a group, having to be patient and having to connect with others,” says Melissa Lozoff, the founder the Movie Makers in Durham, North Carolina. “It takes such a collective effort to make a film—all types of personalities have to learn to work together before something can be made.”
While it’s easy to assume that the outgoing and extroverted fair best in the performing arts, Lozoff smartly points out that those who are shy, yet creative, also thrive in this environment by working behind-the-scenes, writing screenplays, or working in set design. At Movie Makers, all of these individual skills are put to use in a 12-week class that concludes with a completed 30-minute movie, and a “Hollywood premiere” for friends and family to watch.
But in addition to the giddiness the children feel as they watch themselves on the silver screen, they also learn a lot about themselves explains Lozoff: “They learn that they are funny and talented, that screwing up isn’t a bad thing, and that even at such a young age, they can inspire and make people feel things.