We just completed an event that proved to have a bigger payoff than we had ever expected. It was a short film festival where all the content was created by our students. As life groups, they were tasked to make a 2-5 min video that would include everyone in their group. They turned the videos in by a deadline. We then assembled a panel to watch the videos and vote. Then the night of the actual event was modeled closely after an awards ceremony. We opened the night by showing all of the videos. There were round tables so people could sit in communities of life groups, families, friends.
Why was this event such a win? A few things…
1. It brought the Life Groups together :: I am a big fan of shared experiences. As a group they had to develop an idea and bring it to life. Most rose to the occasion. Some…had good personalities. Regardless, for those who took advantage of the time together did reap the benefits of it.
2. The students were the stars :: They made the films. They stared in the films. They presented the awards. They accepted the awards. What parent does not want to see their children on stage and screen? This made for early buy in from the students. They had made a film so they wanted to see it and bring their friends as well. There was a desire to show off what they had been working on for so long. We also didn’t have to worry about what the students would say or do (minus their acceptance speeches) because we had seen the videos before we put them up.
3. It was relatively cheap and easy to set up :: When all is said and done we spent $300-$400 and most of that is reusable, because it was decorations. We shopped at Oriental Trading Company and the Dollar Store during Oscar season and found some good looking stuff.
4. We now have 13 videos to use for different things all year long :: One of our categories was “Best use of a Promo” video. Many of the students filmed something that we will now use to promote our weekly gathering called The Verve, on Wed. Nights from 6:30-8:50. In addition, we graduate a class of students every year. This now goes in their “portfolio” as part of what they did.
5. It was a great family event :: For the families who got it, they made a night of it. They went out to dinner and showed up at this event to watch their children’s video (that most hadn’t seen yet). It was a dessert reception with coffee and lemonade. The church provided the drinks and parents brought the desserts, allowing another group of people to serve and use their gifts for the ministry. Our goal for next year is to open it up and promote it to the families of kids who are not even in the high school group. It is an amazing way for people to begin to know and look forward to the youth ministry they will be sending their kids to. Early buy in and fun for all ages.
6. Students love to dress up…if it is done right :: The theme was “Thrift Store Prom”. This did make people panic, thinking they they had to find a date and dance. Neither were true. Thrift Store Prom is the idea of dressing up with a wink and a nudge. There were three rules. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t buy anything full price. Don’t show too much skin.
It’s fun to realize that you caught lightening in a bottle, and about 20 min in my staff looked at each other and realized that we had done exactly that.
Couple things we learned.
Give the groups plenty of time. This is true for most events, but I had been thinking about this a long time. No one else had, so they need time to make the videos. We did this in March. We will begin promoing it Jan 1st next year.
Be prepared to provided equipment and skills if necessary. In 2011 there is still a wide range of people’s tech ability. It might even be worth your time to show how to shoot a video using an iPhone and iMovie. For our teams they needed some gear and a little help editing. It proved to take more time for them than I had assumed.
You will have some bad videos. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelete. Some of the groups and students got it. Some have an opportunity to learn from a great experience. In addition, please view the videos before you put them up for the world to see. We did have to edit a bit after we got them from the groups.
Wanna see some of the videos? Check out our facebook page at :: http://www.facebook.com/wsmhsnc