News Column

School pupils become film stars to highlight downside of truancy

July 10, 2013


PUPILS from primary schools across Nottingham watched themselves on the big screen in a film they created with the help of a professional film-maker.

The Paul Smith Suite at the Broadway Cinema, in Broad Street, screened Tomorrow, a half-hour film to show what pupils can miss out on if they skip school.

The Year 5 children were thrilled to see their names in lights and the film they created will go on show at each of the 12 participating schools, from September.

The four main actresses - Carol Pinto, 9, of Welbeck Primary School, in The Meadows, Manar El Said, 10, of Mellers Primary School, in Radford, Umaiya Hraziq, 10, of Edna G Olds Academy, in Lenton, and Solange Sebastian, 10, from Forest Fields Primary School - said they enjoyed their starring roles but that the message was more important.

We got to be out of school but not get into trouble, said Manar. I'm glad I got to play one of the good characters.

Carol added: It was awesome.

I got to dance to Gangnam style. When I was up there I just went crazy.

The girls, who have not done much acting before, took their inspiration from movie stars such as Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise and Madeleine Stowe.

Umaiya added: It was really fun and I would like to be an actress.

The day saw film-maker Adam Pepper show the pupils some examples of movie posters and by the end of the day they had created their own for Tomorrow.

Shida Sattar, a teaching assistant at Edna G Olds Academy, said: The children were chosen for their confidence and acting skills but also for their good attendance.

It was hard for Umaiya to play a truant because she would never miss a day of school.

Miss Sattar said that primary schools don't have a problem with truancy, but Year 5 is a good time to reinforce the message before they head to secondary school. School is the place to be - not just for learning but for fun, added Miss Sattar.

And doing things like this is a good way for them to interact with kids from other schools, although some of them were friends before.

Film-maker Adam Pepper, who runs the Silver Screen Primary Education Project, added: The children should take all the credit.

I helped them through it from a practical point of view, but the ideas and inspiration came from them. Mr Pepper, a former primary teacher who works with around 50 schools in Notts after starting the company two years ago, added: We wanted to make the film realistic. It wasn't to try and scare them, but show that you can have a great time at school whereas when you're not at school it can actually be quite boring.

What the film is all about TOMORROW is a story about two pairs of school children who go their separate ways.

Solange and Umaiya don''t go to school one day, and instead bunk off.

After getting over their initial excitement and a trip to Primark, they end up having a boring day in the rain and part their ways after falling out and being intimidated by naughty children.

In the meantime, the other two lead characters, Charlotte (played by Carol) and Ellen (played by Manar), have a great day at school with all their friends.

The duo dance to Gangnam Style on their lunch break and take part in drama and art classes and even make maths fun by doing sums with Smarties.

Film maker Adam Pepper said: All the lesson ideas came from the children.

They wanted to make it believable and every moment of the film was based on their experiences in school.

What the pupils thought I had the stage to myself in the dancing and we did Gangnam Style - I'd like to be a movie star in the future.

Yewo Nyirenda, 10, Welbeck Primary School I only had one line, but my character was a good character so I was happy about that. Yasen Amiri, 10, Scotholme Primary School I was a bully, bullying a girl a quarter of my size. The message is that bullying is wrong. Arouge Jaffri, 10, Berridge Junior School My character was friends with the lead character. It was fun and I'm glad I was a good character.

Alexandra Cristian, 10, Claremont Primary School

CITY FILM WITH A MESSAGE What more can be done to prevent pupils playing truant? Join the debate online

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