Conversations with Children: How to Make a Movie

Making Movies

Saturdays are a big deal around here.

The kids run around in their pyjamas until after 9:00am. We chill out and snack instead of sitting down for a “real” lunch. We have an early dinner of fish & chips. And, most importantly, it’sΒ Movie Night.

We only turn the TV on once a week, and that’s for our weekly family movie. Then we all sit around together, giggling at the funny bits and generally enjoying our special weekly treat.

Choosing the movie is generally up to five-year-old Big Brother. (Mostly because Little Brother is too young to care what we’re watching.) I usually give him some guidance, or a few movies to choose from, and let him pick. But last Saturday night, our conversation took a turn for the exasperating.

“What movie would you like to watch tonight?” I asked Big Brother when I picked him up from dance class mid-afternoon.


“Would you like something new, or something you’ve seen before?”

He thought for a few minutes. “Can we make our own movie tonight?”

“Instead of watching a movie?” I asked. Because I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Yeah, make our own movie. We can call it The Invincibots.”

“Um. Maybe.” And then I changed the subject. Because… Make a movie? Really? I didn’t even know what that meant.

Cut to two hours later. “Okay,” I said. “Let’s pick this movie for tonight!”

“No,” said Big Brother,”we’re going to make a movie tonight, remember?”

Oh, yes. How could I forget? “I don’t really understand what you mean.”

He put on his serious expression and looked at me steadily. “I mean, make a movie.”

“Yes. Okay. But what does that mean? Is it like putting on a puppet show?”


I was struggling to get a sense of exactly what he wanted to do. (Is it just me? Is this obvious to everyone else?) “So how is making a movie different from making a puppet show?” I asked.

He kept giving me that same look. “One of them is a movie,” he said. “And one of them is a puppet show.”

At this point, I poured myself a drink.

Of water*.


Then I tried again. “Okay. So when you say you’d like to make a movie, what exactly do we need to do? What steps do we need to follow?”

His plan was simple.

Step 1: Think of what you want to make.

Step 2: Make what you thunk.

Step 3: Watch it on TV.

I waited. Just in case there was more. But there wasn’t.

“So when you say ‘Make what you…. (I couldn’t say it) …thought’,” I said. “What exactly do you mean by that?”

He looked at me with his deadpan expression.

“Mummy,” he said. “Do you remember step one?”

* I can neither confirm nor deny the veracity of this statement.


Filed under Life With Kids

18 responses to “Conversations with Children: How to Make a Movie

  1. I laughed. So adorable and very funny–and, well? Did you make one?

  2. I think your movie should be the conversation about making a movie.

  3. I have had clients, both internal and external, who thought that it was that simple.

  4. I think you’re running down the right-ish track. A movie is like a puppet show, in that both are audio-visual performances of a story.

    Where they differ in the most obvious way: a puppet show is ephemeral. Performed once, that performance can never be seen again. A movie exists in some re-playable format, able to be seen and enjoyed again and again.

    The real difficulty, however, is in editing movies. That’s a skill I do not possess (though I’ve tried my hand at it – it’s a lot harder than one would be lead to believe).

    Yet… for purposes of a 5-year-old, it might really be as simple as video-taping a live performance (a puppet-show, if you will).

    On the other hand… the movie Super 8 might suggest some of the work a slightly older crowd of kids might be willing to go through to create their cinematic masterpiece. (Minus the devastating railroad crash, secretive military intervention, forced quarantine and evacuation and terrible space monster. Although those things might make for a smashing good movie. πŸ˜‰ )

    • I really think you’re over-thinking this, Stephen… πŸ˜‰

      Although you’re right about the main difference between a puppet show and a movie, it became clear though the rest of the conversation that Big Brother was anticipating making a Pixar-esque movie. Which is just a LITTLE outside my ability range. (Just a little.)

  5. When one’s children use a patronising tone with you there’s only one thing worse than wondering which pompous adult they’re aping, and that’s realising it might be … you. (Of course I don’t mean you personally, I mean any parent. Of course.)

  6. Goodness Jo, I feel your pain! Little Chap does this “no task is too enormous for you Mummy” thing too. The other day, after school, in a bid to do anything rather than let him watch tv, we settled down to play pirates. I took down the pirate ship, but oh no. This adorable little face got in mine and said very quickly “No, Mummy. We need a flag. (We do?) So you get a piece of black cloth (from where exactly…? I’m not well known for obtaining, much less for retaining odd scraps of fabric!) and some thread and you can sew (something else I’m not known for doing a whole lot of I’m afraid!) a skull and cross bones shape on it for me, can’t you Mummy? Then we can pin it to the wall like Miss W did at school…can’t we? So we know we’re on a pirate ship.” Indeed we could son, if you had a different mother or the one you have had a whole other set of interests, way more time and sack loads more patience. But alas ’tis I you were blessed with! Needless to say, we compromised and I helped him draw one on some paper with his crayons but I’m sure he’d rather have another mother to boss about instead. One that will actually indulge his creative fantasies….

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