HUNDREDS of youngsters from across the district have used the film industry to improve their studies, and even seen their own films shown on the silver screen.

Almost 40 primary schools have been involved in the Bradford Film Literacy project, and organisers say that around 70 per cent of these children have seen an improvement in their literacy skills.

The project is a collaboration between the schools and Bradford City of Film, along with support from Little Germany-based Curriculum Innovation Centre, and is just coming to the end of the second year.

Mixing film with the school curriculum, the scheme involves lessons where young people look at movies, TV and animations the same way they might study books, and encourages them to ask questions like why certain camera angles are chosen, what the film maker was trying to make the audience feel and how certain effects are created.

Pupils then used what they learned to write, direct, edit and star in their own films, and to mark the end of the successful second year.

Bradford’s Media Museum hosted a “world premiere” of these shorts on Tuesday and yesterday, where they saw their finished films for the first time.

Before each film, which ranged in length from two to five minutes, school representatives spoke from the front of the stage to talk about the challenges of making the movies and what they would do better next time around.

Films included re-tellings of the Robin Hood legend, pirate adventures, stories about bullying, and surreal dreams. Schools from Bradford, Ilkley and Keighley took part in yesterday’s event. Those who make movies set in the past spoke of the difficulties of making sure no modern buildings were in the frame.

In the last three months the scheme has attracted funding from Cape UK which has helped bring professional film makers to classrooms to offer advice to budding young Spielbergs.

The manager of Magiclight Pictures, which made The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom, Barney Goodland, was one of the film makers who came to Bradford to support the programme.

He said: “The Film Literacy Scheme is a wonderful way to help young people learn. By using interactive film and animation workshops the programme encourages creative thinking and ideas, while at the same time developing key literacy skills.”

Although the project currently only takes place in the district’s primary schools, it is hoped it could eventually be rolled out to secondary schools. And organisers say the scheme has proved so successful that schools in other parts of the country are looking to roll it out there too.

Students at Bradford University are currently involved in a PhD study of how effective the project is in improving children’s school achievement.

David Wilson, director of Bradford City of Film, said: “We are trying to improve literacy through film, and about 70 per cent of the young people who are involved have shown a marked improvement in literacy skills. It was all about working as a team, the children had to get together and put their thoughts on paper, and then following through and making a movie.

“A lot of these children already had skills in making films because they can use an iPad, we were all amazed how quickly they picked things up.

“It is especially helpful for boys, who are less likely to engage in reading and writing. It seems to be showing results and we’re now looking to replicate this model. We have 38 schools involved at the moment but we want to extend things into secondary schools.

“It is great that we’ve got this facility in Bradford, and we hope seeing their films on the big screen will encourage their love for the cinema. We want these kids to know you can study film and animation in Bradford. The city is the envy of a lot of people studying these subjects.”

He said that the efforts the young people had put in had also made them realise how damaging film piracy can be. Mr Wilson said: “They realise how much work they have put into a film and we tell them ‘imagine how much effort it takes to make Batman?’ They realise that it is wrong for someone to just take that without paying, which is an important message to get across and they really get it.”

Cllr Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s portfolio-holder for Children and Young People, said “Using our UNESCO film designation in such an innovative way is really starting to make a difference in terms of attainment in Bradford schools. The project is also attracting attention across the UNESCO Creative Cities network and I understand that there is a PhD research programme accompanying the work. We look forward to seeing the results next year.”