Francis…

In keeping with my recent spooky theme I wanted to share with you one of the best scary, tension-building animations I have ever watched with Year 6.  It really is only suitable for the oldest children in primary or those in secondary as it does make them physically jump…great fun!!

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It is a brilliant example of how an author can create tension and a dark mood.  The colours used, the music, the quiet…all powerful tools.

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The anticipation throughout is palpable…cut-the-air-with-a-knife stuff.  The narrators use of the word ‘isolated’, the shadows on his wall, the skull in the fish tank, the Jaws ‘teeth’ poster, the use of a model monster to hold down the map, the sudden use of the brooding music, the sentence ‘But I wont be going back to Quetico any time soon…’ set the scene for something dreadful. As an audience you are waiting for the sudden fright. The children can be challenged to spot these signs and consider the impact of the author / creator using them and what they might look like written on a page.  Can the tension be replicated in words – challenge them to have a go.

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Knowing that something awful happened to Francis Brandywine puts the audience into a heightened state of tension and alertness…not knowing exactly what that is grips and engages.  A highly effective narrative hook that can be ‘magpied’ in story writing.

What impact does the camera shot suddenly descending into the murky depths of water have on the viewer. It makes me feel as if we are seeing things from something else’s perspective…something that lurks in the lake.  The music changing into an almost mournful ghostly wail at that point and the narrator describing it as ‘one of the deeper lakes’ and ‘a lonely body of water’ and ‘estimated to be over 300 feet deep’ emphasises this fear of the dark endlessness below her boat…Can children spot these clues?  How do they make them feel?  Can this be translated to a paragraph?

Does the sudden whooshing of the camera through the trees make you jump? Then you realise it is nothing…the wind…an animal…your imagination playing tricks.  Francis relaxes…nothing to be scared of…but instinctively we know the horrors of what is to come.  The fact that she stops her boat over the lake’s deepest spot…ahhh!!!!

‘She was feeling very peaceful’, that is the trigger, a signal that something is about to happen.  Would that be a short sentence in writing?  Then it happens…the knocking.  It keeps happening, driving her crazy with fear.  And then…nothing.  Only her journal was found with her frantic jottings and then, on the very last page, written with a muddy finger, were the four words…’I DID KNOCK FIRST’.

Mwahahaha!!!!  Brilliant!  The children could create there own version of Francis’ diary explaining in more detail what happened and how the character felt.  Maybe they could write the story of what really happened to her and reveal what made the knocking sounds.  They could learning this story orally and then create their own with a few innovations.

Please watch it and share!

There are lots of ideas for how to use and make films on the ‘Into Film’ website:

http://www.intofilm.org/schools-resources

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