institution: Deutsches Filmmuseum
category: Museum-Wide Guide or Program
How do you inspire the next generation of movie directors? Nobody knows how to engage kids better than kids, so the Deutsches Filmmuseum and media partner Antenna International spent two years leading workshops with children to co-develop an innovative, interactive introduction to the magic of movies.
With our collection focused on the history of cinema and filmmaking technology, the Deutsches Filmmuseum wanted to meet our younger visitors where they are. With platforms like YouTube and Instagram making videos instantly accessible, we at the museum knew the key to engagement was to use the language of cinema itself. We needed to create a comprehensive mobile guide to bring our collection to life for young people, so we “took our cues” from them, making them co-developers overseeing every aspect of the museum-wide mobile guide. This seemed a certain way to spark the creativity of tomorrow’s directors, producers and cinematographers, and make something that would capture the imaginations of their peers.
Along with our partner Antenna, we conducted a series of workshops to train young people in the art of filmmaking. It was important that their experiences and insights shape the guide. Children of all ages from local schools and youth groups participated, including recipients of the Diesterweg Stipendium, a scholarship awarded by the Polytechnic Society of Frankfurt to disadvantaged families. During the workshops, participants learned everything from seeing how camera angles and lighting can change a story’s meaning to how sound can affect a viewer’s perception. The kids then developed questions, conducted interviews, investigated stories, and developed interactions, using the Museum as their laboratory.
Ultimately, the workshop participants wrote and narrated the tour themselves, guided the UI designs (choosing a tongue-in-cheek-in-cheek Saul Bass look), and oversaw the flow of the guide to make it an authentic, relevant, fun way to explore the museum.
In the workshops, the challenge was to go beyond a “show and tell” approach to teaching cinema history. The kids came up with engaging approaches to in-depth learning, as well as more lighted-hearted, memorable activities. The tour content delves into the art and technology that fuel filmmaking, starting before the camera obscura to present day, but uses a variety of approaches from documentary techniques, to animations, video investigations, and interactive games. For example, when visitors come face to face with the creature from Alien, they can watch videos about how the costume was made, hear from the artist who conceived of the design, choose alternate soundtracks, and even explore the concept of “eeriness.” In other areas, visitors can see if Darth Vader’s helmet would suit them, have a photo taken with Jack Skellington, or dance across the roofs of Paris.
In September 2017, after 2 years of research, collaboration and development, the Deutsches Filmmuseum multimedia guide launched. iPads are distributed at the Museum containing two different tours: one targeting young visitors and families, where all the comments are scripted, narrated or filmed by kids; and one for adult visitors narrated by a well-known actor in German cinema, Wotan Wilke Möhring.
A 3.5 minute documentary about the workshop process, featuring its participants is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhIEQdVmXzU&t=54s.
(FYI it is all in German).