Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to popular questions below.
If you can’t find the answer to your question, then please get in touch.
What do the children do?
In all our programmes – even online courses – participants join in with practical filmmaking activities. These might be exploratory workshop-based tasks, for instance, where they explore a particular technique or stylistic approach, or it might be production-focused.
There is usually a project for the filmmakers to work towards within any of our programmes. They get involved from both behind and in from to the camera, stepping in to crew roles such as director, camera operator, various crew roles, and taking on performance roles too.
In each term of filmmaking classes, or in each holiday camp, the filmmakers will all work together to produce at least one film production. This will be based on their own ideas and they’ll take on all the creative responsibilities – ultimately they will end up with a film production that showcases their skills and that they can feel proud of.
What skills will my child learn?
Specific skills vary depending on the programme you’re enrolled in, but typically participants develop skills in the different areas of filmmaking:
- Directing Skills
- Photography & Moving Image Skills
- Editing Skills
- Acting for Camera
They also develop skills in storytelling, visual literacy and a host of different creative skills.
We also expect students to develop soft and transferable skills over time, for instance:
- Improved communication skills
- Collaborative working
- Taking responsibility
- Decision-making and problem-solving
- Time management
- Reflection and Evaluation.
Taking part is also great for confidence building too.
Will my child enjoy filmmaking?
We certainly hope so! Our classes are definitely creative and engaging, as well as having the technological dimension too.
If your child shows signs of being creative or visual, then we’re confident that they’ll enjoy our classes.
Where we have availability, we offer trial classes, as well as money-back guarantees on trial periods, so you’re able to give it a try before fully committing.
Who are the teachers?
Our classes are all lead by qualified Sparks instructors, who are all from professional filmmaking and/or arts education backgrounds.
Many have formal qualifications, such as degrees in film production/fine art, and typically everyone has extensive experience of working with children and young people. Everyone is DBS-checked.
We have two levels of instructors, but everyone on our team is a creative professional. We don’t work with volunteers*. We train all our team specifically in how to deliver our sessions, as well as in our unique, inclusive approach.
All our programmes have a staff ratio of 1:8 (often 1:6 in practice, especially with younger children).
*We do occasionally welcome placement students. Often these are Sparks members, or university students from selected partner universities. Placement students are always in addition to our regular team. They are never responsible for supervision or learning.
What equipment do you use?
We use a variety of different equipment, depending on the age group and the learning outcomes attached to the programme. All our equipment is chosen for it’s accessibility/ease of use, along with its output quality and durability (e.g. the ability to withstand accidental drops).
Younger children tend to work with high quality camcorders, or iPads, as well as equipment including tripods, clapperboards, green screens and lighting reflectors. The older groups begin to work with DSLR cameras, as well as sound equipment, a range of grip and lenses. In our most advanced classes (Studio 5), filmmakers begin to work with higher, more professional standards of equipment with an increasing focus on technical or vocationally-orientated learning.
For editing, we tend to work with Macs. Younger groups edit using iMovie, and the older groups edit using either Final Cut Pro, or Premiere Pro, as well as occasional use of programmes such as After Effects and Photoshop.
Our approach towards using particular technology is to teach the skills required to use it well and adapt, rather than to train on particular models or setups that may date quickly, or that may not be widely available to learners outside of classes.
Why are you so expensive?
We realise that our classes are more expensive than lots of other activity options. We always aim to be transparent with our pricing and the quality of experience your child will receive.
Our class prices vary from around £12-£16 per hour. Fees vary across locations, as they are influenced by each individual school’s costs.
Filmmaking is a costly activity to run: we require a skilled staff team, who are all paid competitive market rates*, along with lots of expensive equipment/software licences, on top of things like venue hires and insurance, so we have to factor all of that into our pricing.
*All our team members, even the most junior, are paid competitively and well above the local Living Wage rate. We see this as part of our responsibility as an employer, but we also value the skills and experience they bring to the role. We want them to enjoy their work and feel motivated to do the best possible job. This way we’re confident that your child is receiving the best quality of teaching from our team.
Our class sizes are also very small (typically only 12 children per class) with high staff ratios too, so this has an impact on the class fees.
We believe keeping class sizes small is really important. We want to make sure that every child receives a truly high quality experience, personalised attention and the chance to create work they’ll feel proud of. We’ve experimented with class sizes in the past, in efforts to keep classes more affordable, but we’ve found that the quality of learning experience suffered as a result.
We don’t wish to purposefully exclude anyone based on affordability. We have a range of options for instalments and we also accept Childcare Vouchers – please talk to us and we’ll happily organise a payment plan.
Through our Sparks Communities programmes, we also offer opportunities for children who wouldn’t otherwise have access to extra-curricular or arts opportunities, as well as sponsored places and scholarship schemes.
Do we get copies of the finished films?
Yes, we provide everyone with copies of their work at the end of each programme. We also celebrate with screening events like the Red Carpet Premiere and family screenings. Most of our students build up portfolios of work that demonstrate their progress, or to use as part of their record of achievement.
Will they get a certificate?
Yes, each filmmaker receives a Certificate of Achievement in recognition of their learning at the end of each course.
With our weekly classes, filmmakers work towards our overall Scheme of Learning, which progresses from one level to the next. Each year, they’ll be working towards a new level, with increasing skills and technical challenges.
Some programmes also work with the Arts Award scheme to offer formal recognition of learning and artistic development.
Do you accept Childcare Vouchers?
Yes. We accept all childcare vouchers. Please register using the online booking system and contact us if you have any trouble finding your provider.
My child has been before. Will they get something new out of coming again?
Yes, we work with many children on a long-running basis and always build in progression steps to make sure they are continually learning new things and developing their skills.
We’ll always share the particular focus of each programme beforehand, so you can see if it’s something that lines up with their interest, e.g. special effects, or genre themes, but if you have any questions or concerns, you can also contact us and we can take you through the progression steps in detail.
Are you inclusive of children with disabilities?
We try to be as inclusive as possible. We welcome children with physical and sensory disabilities, as well as children who are neurodiverse. Many of our team have experience of working in SEND environments.
As a general approach, we suggest that if your child attends a mainstream school, we can most likely support their needs in our classes. Through Sparks Communities we also offer specific projects designed to include children with disabilities that may need more support than we can offer in our standard programmes.
We always recommend that you speak to us beforehand, so we can put in place any strategies or adaptations that will improve their experience, or so that we can make recommendations. Not all our venues are 100% accessible, so we may need to put adaptations in place.
How long have you been running?
We first started in 2010, with our first film school in Balham.
Since then, we’ve open up many more Sparks film school locations. You can learn more about our company history here >>>
What about Covid-19?
All our activities are risk assessed, we implement a lot of safety measures designed to mitigate the risk of transmission in all our classes and camps, following the latest guidance from the government.
These include use of PPE for our team, working in class or camp bubbles (of up to 12 children), along with travel using one-way systems and building lots of cleaning into our general practices. Any equipment is wiped down before and after each use, using high-alcohol cleaning wipes and we also ask the young filmmakers to wash their hands regularly.
If/when we’re unable to operate in face-to-face settings, we have interactive, online programmes that closely mirror our face-to-face programmes. All the activities are practical and taught live, with lots of creative collaboration between filmmakers even when working from home.
For a full list of measures, or if you have any concerns or questions about Covid-19 security, please get in touch with us for further information.
Who can I talk to for more information?
We suggest contacting the Head of your local film school, or reaching out to us here.
We can help with any further questions or information.