Childhood Studies Children and Film-Making
Michelle Cannon
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 July 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 May 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0219


Youth film-making practices in educational settings are often positioned in discourses that support older teenagers’ career prospects and their training for industry. However, the work detailed in this list is located in formal and informal educational settings that foreground the social and cultural dimension of youth film and media production. As such, this article engages with the role of the moving image in everyday living, in creative arts education, and in the “reframing” of literacy to include visual and audio modes. In this view, film-making opportunities move beyond the formal domains of secondary and higher education film and media studies students, so that learners of all ages can become “writers” of the moving image as well as “readers.” This bibliography lays out the different sites and means through which primary and secondary children encounter film-making in the anglophone world and more internationally. In addition, it details the academic perspectives through which children’s engagements with film are studied and the increasing number of resources available to researchers and educators in the field. As distinct from the broader realm of production activities with digital media (e.g., game authoring or podcasting), research interest in children’s film-making is in the early stages of development in terms of academic literature and its differentiation. The making dimension might occupy part of a text on, for example, the uses of film in the classroom or on media education more broadly. Notably, discourses on youth film-making have increased in recent years with the development of new media technologies, social media platforms, and digital media authoring software. Functionality that used to be mediated through cumbersome professional apparatuses are now at the disposal of many amateurs via mobile digital devices. These ongoing advances coupled with a wide-ranging academic interest in multimodal expression open up new worlds of audiovisual storytelling for children and young people. Readers will notice the multidimensional nature of the categories that serve to demonstrate the versatility of film across social domains. Despite this and the significant uptake of creative media production by educators and practitioners in informal educational settings in the Western world, there is a discernible disinclination for many educational institutions to include film-making programs in formal education. Thus, there is a sense in which film-making for children remains a marginal activity, dependent on local enthusiasts and pockets of random good practice. Many of the authors are keen to see this change and to promote film as a relevant, dynamic, and cross-disciplinary constituent of modern literacy and the visual arts. Legitimizing film-making experience as a systematic literacy practice with a strong creative and critical dimension is seen as a way of enriching cultural expression in schools.

General Overviews

Titles in this section are drawn from a body of media education literature from decades past that in many respects form the basis on which much else followed. In the 1980s and 1990s, practices of youth production in the primary and secondary sectors were led by pioneering educators and researchers, heralding the importance of a critical, creative, and cultural understanding of the media ecologies that were beginning to infuse young learners’ everyday lives. Cary Bazalgette features largely in this bibliography as a tireless supporter of film and film-making in schools. Her seminal Curriculum Statement from 1989 sought to convince policymakers of the central role of media in primary children’s lives. Alvarado and Boyd-Barrett 1992 began to distinguish film education as a viable separate entity within the broader field of media studies, which was gaining momentum as a scholarly discipline. Tyner 1998 takes a contextual historical view of new communication technologies and the ways in which they affect literacy. The author emphasizes the importance of learners’ past experiences with media and on the facilitative role of the teacher. In an early foray into media production, Parker 1999 looks at the relationships between print literacy and the function of translations between media forms. Buckingham 2003 collates decades of theory and debate, summarizing the key concepts and indicating ways forward. The most recent work to take a holistic view of the development of film and media education in the United Kingdom is Bolas 2009. Although less concerned with film-making with children as such, it is a valuable overview of the field in which these practices are located, charting the rise of grassroots enthusiasm for film and media to its position as a scholarly discipline.

  • Alvarado, Manuel, and Oliver Boyd-Barrett. Media Education: An Introduction. London: British Film Institute, 1992.

    This book was edited by the incumbent head of education at the British Film Institute in 1992. It was one of the first to lay out the key dimensions of media education theory, including debates on pedagogy and the politics of media studies prevalent at the time.

  • Bazalgette, Cary. Primary Media Education: A Curriculum Statement. London: British Film Institute, 1989.

    Conceived by a National Working Party, this volume is widely regarded as a blueprint for film and media education action in primary education that sets out a whole media curriculum, with training and research implications that some believe are still pertinent in the digital age.

  • Bolas, Terry. Screen Education: From Film Appreciation to Media Studies. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books, 2009.

    This is considered the first definitive history of the development of film and television studies in Britain. The work incorporates personal archives and interviews with key figures, making this a critical record of the rise of cinema and television studies from grassroots initiatives to serious scholarship.

  • Buckingham, David. Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.

    Buckingham’s highly critical opus outlines contemporary theories and debates in media education, from a sociocultural point of view, including sections on creative production, new media childhoods, play, and pedagogy. Also included is a road map for the future of media learning in schools and some of the persistent challenges in its way.

  • Parker, David. “You’ve Read the Book, Now Make the Film.” English in Education 33.3 (1999): 24–25.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-8845.1999.tb00160.x

    Media production is often aligned with English as a school subject, positioned as an aid to print literacy. This article outlines findings from a project involving primary school pupils (aged seven to eleven) in practical media work that adapted a print text to a moving image medium, examining the impact of this translation on their print literacy.

  • Tyner, Kathleen. Literacy in a Digital World: Teaching and Learning in the Age of Information. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1998.

    The author examines literacy through a historical lens to demonstrate how new communication technologies are resisted and accepted over time. She questions the purposes of literacy and applies a theory of cognitive apprenticeships to media practice where implicit understandings gained from experience are transferred from expert to learner.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.