Activity Days Idea #5
Under Learning and Living the Gospel one of the goals is to “Tell a story from the Book of Mormon that teaches about faith in Jesus Christ. Share your testimony of the Savior.” I suggested to the girls that we make a movie. They liked that idea. From this side of doing this activity there are a lot of things I would do differently, so for this post I’ll share what we did, and then outline what I would change on the next go around.
First we sat around the kitchen table and made a list of Book of Mormon stories that we thought taught faith in Jesus Christ, then they voted/debated/bargained with each other to pick which one we would do. They picked the story of Nephi getting the brass plates from Laban.
Then we got out some Books of Mormon, looked up that story in the index, and started reading through the story. I acted as scribe and led them through the process of turning the story into a script. This process probably helped them understand the events in this story better than they ever had before. After we finished making a script, I made a list of all the characters and asked them if they had any preference about who they would play. In our case there were more characters than girls so that worked out fairly well- every girl got a part and by doubling up on smaller parts all the girls got a fair amount of screen time.
There was a slightly awkward moment where one girl suggested that we recruit my sons and and some other boys to play the male parts in the story so they wouldn’t have to ‘cross dress.’ I responded, “If we did that then there would be no parts for you guys.” We then had a short discussion about the history of cross dressing in theatrical performances, and the scarcity of female characters in the Book of Mormon.
The script writing process took up a whole hour rather handily, and the prospect of them acting out the script kept them on task remarkably well. I typed up the script and passed them out copies at church for them to learn their lines. It was very optimistic of me to think they’d memorize their lines. But the way we ended up filming it (a few lines at a time) made up for the lack of memorization.
I had plans on filming the whole thing at the next activity, but weather interfered. Twice. So we didn’t start filming until a month later and lots of girls missed that particular activity, so we had to wait to film several of the scenes until later. While filming I taught them some general principles of performance (always face the camera, speak loudly, over-pronounce your words, If you aren’t on stage BE QUIET, if you are on stage stay in character!). I also taught them a few stage fighting techniques which they really, really enjoyed. (All those years of doing summer plays are paying off!)
When we finished filming I used the film editing software that came with my computer to to splice the best cuts together into a movie. If you don’t have this sort of software yourself, ask around, someone in your ward might. If not there are some open source, free programs out there that you could try.
In our case, my camera was broken and I didn’t notice until we were done filming. All the footage we filmed had no audio. So I made it sepia toned, added a piano soundtrack, dialog slides and made it into a silent film. When it was done we popped some popcorn and watched it together. Three times in a row. They liked it a lot.
All in all we used up about 5 meetings on this one project. 1 for the script, 3 for filming, and 1 for watching.
What I would do differently next time is, first make sure my camera worked before we started filming. Then I would have probably would have gone the dictator route and picked the story myself. Nephi and the brass plates wasn’t the easiest thing to script, or film. And lots of the “faith in Christ” aspects were lost in the telling. The last thing I would have done differently would be to have one (extra long) activity in the afternoon and film the whole thing in one go.
This is the activity that they have requested to do again most often.