Getting Kids Out of the Summer Funk With Creative Movie Making

Sick of hearing your kids moan about how bored they are this summer?  It’s easy enough to end their summer with an absolute BANG.

I LOVE having a boy.  Absolutely love it.  But I hate playing fighting games.  There’s something programmed in his DNA that turned that cute little finger that used to just hold my hand while it was filled with nothing but sweetness and baby love into a pistol.  That gun comes out every time I blink.

“Mom, let’s be bad guys.  Bang.”

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“Mom, pretend those guys just stole our Lambergini” (a four year old with no concept of the kind of car he will be able to afford since his aspirations are to be a ninja pizza man when he grows up.)

Luckily, when it’s just us playing, I can redirect the game to saving each other’s lives, which ends in getting warm, cuddly hugs.  YES, I will milk the war games for love as long as I can.

When he plays with his girl cousins, he has no problem diving into taking Batman to the tea party.

But this weekend at our family reunion when there were boy cousins a little older than him and less inclined to save lives and hug it out in the end, the obnoxious fighting and constant war games were just too much for me to handle.

What happened next blew me away.

(insert dramatic music in your head here.)

It all started with my headache, three boys in the backseat of our car and one creative mofo of a husband.

Here is his recipe for turning the summer battle games into a brilliant, creative wonderland for kids.

Step One: We showed them stop motion videos on our phone, which erupted in excited voices dying to make one themselves. We followed it up with a couple of Jubafilms short movies.  If you haven’t seen these yet, get on it quick.  We’ve watched our kiddo’s imagination come to life in the wildest ways after he watches these.

Step Two: Get the kids brainstorming about what their movie can be about.  Gabe did a BEAUTIFUL job of directing their conversations and having their ideas bounce off each other and meld with each other’s (rather than arguing about who’s idea is best.) The brainstorming part should be a free for all, where ideas just fly until one emerges as the one that everyone feels drawn to.

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Step Three: Storyboard the ideas.  My heart pretty much melted when we got back to the house and the boys found the girl cousins and they all sat around a table brainstorming and drawing up their ideas.  I’ve never seen these kids focus more or have a desire to sit at a table with paper and pencils writing out their ideas. While they were laughing and talking together you could pretty much see the ideas flying around the table between them. They were so excited about this part that no adult intervention was necessary.

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So Gabe got to breathe and talk to the grownups for a few minutes.

Step Four: The next morning it was time to film.  You do not have to be a professional photographer to make this happen.  We put our Sony Action Cam in the hands of Kaitlyn, who naturally emerged as the director of our production.  (All of the kids planned a movie and hopefully they’ll all get their own chance to play the role!) Gabe was there to help guide the storyline to make sense and to show them how to look for good angles to film.  The Sony Action Cam has a super wide lens, so there’s quirks in our film with dad’s leaning in the background, thinking they aren’t being filmed, but we aren’t going for a professional look here, so that part just didn’t matter to us.

If you don’t have a GoPro or a Sony Action Cam, you probably have a phone.  There’s nothing wrong with filming with that.  I have no idea, but there’s probably even movie making apps for phones out there.

By the time the night ended, Kaitlyn was shouting Action before she and her sisters did anything.

Step Five: Sit back and feel UBER Proudtastic as the kids blow your mind with their professionalism and pride.

Step Six: The kids couldn’t wait to get the movie edited together.  Gabe uses Adobe Premiere Pro which you have to be a rocket scientist to understand.  But I have used iMovie with kids before and it is pretty easy to learn.  I know there are other movie making programs out there as well that allow you to dump the video files together.

Step Seven: Have a viewing party.  The kids were laughing, screaming, hugging each other, hugging Gabe (without having it be from saving his life after killing him in a war game! Lucky SOB…they meant those hugs from the depths of their souls.)

AND, Here’s their debut film: MOTHER THUNDER!




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One comment

  1. Alisan

    I just read this and love it!! And love the pictures too. Gabe absolutely has the magic touch in harnessing all that kid energy. Pretty cool to see it all go down.

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