Everyone watches and loves movies. So what better way to stretch your team’s creativity and communication skills then have them plan, script, direct, perform and edit their very own 5 minute cinematic masterpiece. Whatever your occasion or objective you can be sure that your team’s are in for an entertaining, rewarding and above all motivational team building experience.
Go through the same process Hollywood uses to make big-budget movies. Start with a concept, brainstorm ideas, develop a script, plan your shoot, start shooting your film and premiere the film at your very own film festival. This is the opportunity to be the hero, the villain or even that scary monster from outer-space… the possibilities are as endless!
You never know, you may have the next Kubrick, Bergman or Spielberg in your team.
- Camera’s with video capability and external microphone jack (Camcorder or DSLR & Kit Lens)
- External shotgun microphones
- SD Cards
- Clapper boards
- Paper and pens
- Laptop/computers and editing software (download Adobe’s easy to use Premiere free trial)
- Props such as clothing, wigs and anything else you can think of (raid a charity, bargain and hardware stores)
- TV (28” and larger) with speakers and HDMI connector for Film Premiere
- Other useful items: Gaffer tape, lights, elastic bands, envelopes, example scripts
If you already own some of this stuff then great – if not, look to borrow from family/friends, rent or even buy (you can get started for less than $600 dollars).
Space Required: Small to Large. The more space, the better for location shots.
Group Size: 8 to 40 (depends on the amount of equipment you have)
Total Time: 5-7 hours (Can be adapted to suit available time)
- 30 minute brief, equipment tutorials and set up
- 4-6 hours to write and produce film
- 30 minutes to review and de-brief
- 30 minutes for premiere screenings
If you have enough time and budget, host a full day event. Get your teams to shoot their films during the day, organise for a meal in the evening and then hold your premiere and award ceremony after with a few drinks.
Before the start the day, organise a room for each team to act as a base or production office.
In each room you should have the following:
- Table and chairs
- Laptop or computer loaded with editing software
- Box of props (clothes, wigs, make-up, fake moustaches and various pairs of glasses)
- Paper and pens
- Camera, Microphone, Tripod and clapper
Filmmaking Team Building Workshop
Lights, Camera, Action – Structure
Stage 1 – Introduction
Introduce the team challenge. The group will be split into smaller sub-teams and will be required to write, direct and produce their own five minute short film based on a selected genre.
The climax of the day occurs when you attend the ‘The (company name) Film Festival’ where each film will be shown for the first time.
Discuss with the team what makes a good film and give a few pointers on how to make their film as good as possible. You don’t have to give too much detail here but here are a few tips:
- Talk about structure (every story needs a beginning, middle and end)
- Why characters are important (who’s your hero and why should we care?)
- Understanding your premise (what’s the story about? Did we see a transformation or your hero overcoming a problem?)
- How did the film end? (Did it tell the story and leave an impression?)
Introduce the camera equipment and give the groups a demonstration on how it works. You can leave most cameras in automatic mode and they will still produce a quality image. If you did want to give manual a try then set your cameras to 24fps in settings and ensure that the camera person shoots at a shutter speed of 50/1 (or 30fps at the shutter speed of 60/1).
Next explain the clapper and the importance of marking each scene and take (make life easier for editors).
Organise your groups into smaller sub-teams. Allocate a working area (production office) for each team.
Set a deadline for each teams final cut for the film premiere – this is normally 4-6 hours after you begin the exercise.
Stage 2 – Team Organisation
Send each team to their production offices and leave them to discuss and allocate roles within the team.
- Producer – Oversees the filming and ensures that everyone is happy and working on schedule.
- Writers – Once a genre has been selected, a concept discussed and agreed, they are tasked with developing the script. They will also work on set during filming, changing scenes/dialogue to help the story flow better.
- Director – To have the overall vision of the film. Work with all aspects of the crew, especially the actors to get the best performance and cameraman to get the right shot/s and enough coverage (shots) for post editing.
- Cameraman – Working behind the camera and setting up the shots. Ensuring that you have enough coverage of each scene.
- Actors – To turn the invisible into visible. Act out the script they have been provided with. Rehearse scenes before shooting.
- Editors – Post-production collaboration to edit to specification and deliver the overall film.
- Others potential roles: Assistant Director, Costume & Prop, Location scout, Special effects, Stunt coordinator
Stage 3 – The Challenge Begins
Invite the producer from each team to draw a mystery envelope containing a film genre or theme. The teams final cut will need to reflect the genre. You can also include any criteria that matches your objectives.
Here are a few genre and theme suggestions:
- Genres: Action, Drama, Zombie, Thriller, War, Romance, Horror, Western, Comedy or
- Themes: Bond, Pirates, Harry Potter, Superheroes, Gangster, Wild West, Christmas, Gladiator etc
Once they have something to work with they then return back to their production office. The team then begins to discuss the genre, brainstorming ideas on concept and premise for their short film.
Once they have an idea mapped out it is then time to get to work and create their film!
Once the team begins the challenge, take all the editors to one side and give them a quick tutorial on how to use the editing software and how to upload movie footage from the camera (SD Cards). YouTube has some excellent tutorials and you can play around with something like Adobe Premiere and figure it out within an hour. If you’re still unsure or don’t feel confident enough to do this, get each editor to do their own research on the laptop or computer provided… Problem solved!
Stage 4 – The Final Cut
Each producer should provide you with the final cut of their film at the time stated at the start of the day. Once you have every teams film, call a break and get everyone to return in 30 minutes.
Stage 5 – Reviewing and de-briefing
When the group returns get them to sit in their sub-teams. Get them discuss the day and ask them some questions to prompt discussion.
Here are a few suggested questions:
How well did you work as a team?
Are you happy with your film? If no, is there anything you would change?
How did you come up with the concept and your film premise? Did you have more than one idea?
What role did the producer play in your film production? Why is leadership important?
How did you manage your time effectively?
Did you enjoy your role within the team? Is there any other role you would have liked to try?
Did anyone impress you in the team? If yes, why?
What did you learn from the day? How could use these learning lessons in the future?
For more reviewing methods check out the reviewing section of the site.
Stage 5 – Film Festival
The excitement is high as all of the team’s final films are shown for the first time on the silver screen! This can be combined with an award ceremony (Oscar style) or as a standalone film premiere.
Transfer all movies edits to one laptop and connect the laptop to the TV using a HDMI cable. Organise a mini-theatre or cinema. If you have the budget for it, decorate the room, if not then just organise chairs facing the TV.
It’s also nice to have some popcorn and drinks available for the final screening.
Before each screening, have the film’s producer and director come to the front of the room to make a formal introduction to the audience. Once they are done, play the film for all to enjoy.
Awards Ceremony (Optional)
Before the start of the ceremony, organise some trophies and certificates for each award.
The most prestigious prize is the ‘Best Film’ award and this will be decided by the committee voting panel (made up of you and a few impartial people). The Film will be scored on commercial viability, professionalism, team involvement, audience engagement, entertainment and fun factor!
Also incorporate a few people choice awards for: Best Actor, Best Scene, Best Director, Worst Acting etc. These will be voted by all your participants. After all films have been shown, give out voting sheets for these awards and then count them up (just make sure people don’t vote for themselves!)
What better way to finish an event, then to have your whole company laughing with and at each other’s excellent efforts. Everyone is guaranteed to leave feeling uplifted and with a few stories to tell about their first-hand experience of making a ‘Blockbuster Film’.
Light, Camera, Action is a fun and flexible team building activity which promotes creativity, and will motivate staff through a fun shared experience.
Suggested Learning Outcomes
- Creative thinking
- Time management
- Project management
- Communication skills
Hints and tips
Useful filmmaking terminology
Scene – This is a series of shots, or a single shot that takes place in a one location and that deals with a single action.
Take – A single continuous recorded performance of a scene. A director typically orders takes to continue until they are satisfied that with what they’ve recorded (or have in the can).
Action – “Action” is called by the director to indicate the start of a take.
Cut – The term “Cut” is called again by the director to indicate that the take is over and to stop filming.
Shot – In terms of camera distance with respect to the object within the shot
Master shot: A long take of an entire scene, typically a long shot that shoots everything.
Coverage – This refers to all shots that the director takes in addition to the master shot to make up enough footage for each scene for editing.
For a full list, visit IMDB Glossary Page
To help teams when they are in the crucial stage of deciding the concept and premise, provide them with an example script related to the genre. For example, if they pick an envelope with a romance genre, give them a copy of a related script such as ‘Notting Hill’. You can do a google search for most scripts and print these off to help with the writing and creative process.
You can also provide each group, with some storyboard templates. These are helpful for directors and the camera person when deciding the type of shot to use when filming. Again, do a google search and you’ll find plenty of free templates, print them off and you’re ready to go.
Decorate Production Offices
Turn each team’s allocated room into a true production office. Buy some movie posters and put them up on the wall. Get creative and make it as fun as possible. You can even allocate rooms after they have picked their genre instead, they will not only receive their genre but a room number they will be based in. You can setup the room with posters, music and props related to that genre or theme. For example, create a genre specific room such as horror, romance etc
All Day and All Night (If you have the money)
This is an expensive option but if you have the budget for it, then definitely worth doing:
Instead of finishing your team building event with the film festival at the end of the day. Do an end of day review and de-brief only.
Send your delegates home and get them to return back to a different venue, dressed up for a whole evening of entertainment and partying.
Book a venue and organise for someone to set it up for you during the day, with red carpet and decorations ready for the film festival and award ceremony. Hire a big screen or projector with surround sound system. You can even hire a company to video the event, plant a fake presenter on the red carpet and get them to interview your filmmakers as they arrive and record the whole ceremony including the acceptance speeches.
Put everything together on DVD including all short films to create an unforgettable experience for all involved and a souvenir of their fun team building day.
lights, camera, action filmmaking team building workshop
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