On the last day of Term 3 at Peel High School I was very surprised to receive a phone call from Col Easton from Namoi CMA. He was running their script writing competition for high school students that had been the inspiration for a unit of work I'd completed with my year 7 class. He was calling to let me know that my group of boys, who called themselves the "Order of the Muffin", had won the competition with their script entitled "Squirt and Droplet: Environmental Police" The prize was $10K to have their script professionally filmed.
Excitement throughout the school was evident and none more so than for the boys themselves. They devoted their lunch times and sport time to planning meetings so we could edit the script, design costumes, plan locations and gather props. Without the very great support and time devoted by Col to bring the project together though it would never happened. Many members of the community really helped also, the Tamworth dramatic society and even the Mayor of Tamworth, Mr Treloar, made it all possible within the budget.
Finally the big time arrived in November and our camerman/director, Gareth Tillson, arrived and really brought the project to life. We bundled all the students involved with all the props and supplies we needed onto a mini-bus and headed off to each location over 3 days. Timing was vital, we didn't have much and there was a lot of filming needed with a lot set changes. With the professionalism of Gareth and the ever present organisational skills of Col, the project did happen though and we managed to film all the takes we needed to.
It was then out of our hands, Gareth returned to Sydney to edit the film into the final product. I think this was the hardest point for the boys, the project was completely out of their hands now and all they could do was wait for the premier in the last week of school.
The big day finally arrived and Gareth delivered the final product for the boys, family, friends and teachers at the school to see. With breathless anticipation we waited in darkness for the movie to start and it truly lived up to my expectations. I think personally I had more fun watching the boys in the darkness and seeing their delight at watching their vision come to life and laughing their way through.
Afterwards they couldn't stop relaying events that had taken place throughout the filming and they really felt like celebrities with the local radio station there to record interviews with each of them.
All in all, it was a memorable experience for everyone involved and something I would encourage many others to take part in.