Move over Harry Potter!

13 December 2013

Students at Compass Showcase

When younger students visit the University campus, Harry Potter is the film character who most often springs to mind. But he was nowhere in sight yesterday: battling bullies, looking for love, and zombies were dominant themes at this year's annual Compass Showcase, where the student-produced short films made in the Compass Film Program are screened in the Great Hall. Film noir, supernatural horror, pixelation, 3D claymation and 2D stop motion animation were just some of the genres and techniques employed in the program, and such strong filmmaking was on display that there were even a few tears along with the laughter and applause.

Program facilitator Jack McGrath, a lecturer in Film and Digital Art at Sydney College of the Arts, teamed up with Compass in 2009 to deliver some short workshops on film production. In 2013 the program has grown to become one of Compass' most popular activities, with more than 350 students, parents and teachers from 12 schools across south west Sydney watching the 19 films produced by students from Year 3 up to Year 10.

Students present their work at Compass Showcase

The live action films and stop motion animations in the Showcase tell stories written by students or address issues students face in their own school. The project is part of students' class work in Visual Arts, English, Photography and Digital Media, and is incorporated into Key Learning Areas. The Program helps students learn more about what people do at university, and supports both students' and teachers' skill development in video technology.

Helping to present awards at the Showcase were (current and former SCA students in Advanced Animation) Evan James, Kit Richardson and Isadora Chaves, who visited several of the classes in Term 3 and 4 to see the Compass projects and share their own work. They also answered questions about what studying art at uni is like, providing valuable reinforcement of the connection between the film project and higher education and/or careers. Feroz Iftikhar from Condell Park High School was also a special guest, telling the audience how his first experience with the program in Year 9 nurtured an interest in filmmaking that he has continued throughout high school, including in HSC projects, and intends to take into his future career as a secondary teacher.

Getting access to a skilled practitioner in the classroom was valuable for one student in particular this year, who said, "This has completely changed my understanding of what university is about." The value of this connection between school and university was echoed by a teacher who said that her "students have been able to develop a relationship with Jack, which has allowed them to recognise that within this creative field they can go on to tertiary education... I think that's an understanding they didn't have before."

To find out more about the Compass Film Program, click here to see our videos.

List of participating schools in 2013 Showcase:

A student and a Compass volunteer sit down for a lunch break chat
  • Athelstane PS
  • Condell Park HS
  • Fairfield PS
  • Kingswood HS
  • Kogarah IEC
  • Liverpool Girls HS
  • Liverpool Boys HS
  • Marrickville IEC
  • Moorebank High School
  • Sir Joseph Banks HS
  • Westfields Sports HS
  • Wattawa Heights PS