Taste of Tinseltown at Margaret Beaufort Middle School

Young pupils write, direct and star in their own film.

Pupils at Margaret Beaufort Middle School have produced their own taste of Tinseltown, after taking part in an innovative project to create a movie.

The Riseley school was the first in the country to make a 'Book to Screen' film, where the children carried out the cinematic disciplines themselves.

Their film was based on one chapter from the book 'Ghost Writer' by popular children's author Julia Jarman. And, with guidance from a film director and cameraman, the pupils scripted, acted and carried out many of the technical roles themselves, including soundboom operator, continuity and clapperboard.

Henry Smith, aged 12, played the lead role of Frankie in the video.

He said: "Frankie is a dyslexic, and he has a really mean teacher who doesn't care about his dyslexia. But there is also a ghost, called Alfred, who also went to the school when he was alive and was dyslexic.

"It was quite difficult playing someone with dyslexia, because I have never had that experience. But it was explained to me, and I have dyslexic friends who have told me what it is like.

"It was the role that most of the boys went for, so I was really pleased to play Frankie. But I have been going to the Stagewise drama group at Mark Rutherford School on Saturday mornings for six-and-a-half years, so I knew I could do it.

"I would like to be an actor when I grow up, so it was a really good experience."

The production took just three months from start to finish, beginning with nearly 50 youngsters auditioning for cast and crew.

Several workshops were held, covering technical know-how, the author's

craft and script-writing, where pupils learned to reduce the original 2,500 words down to a shooting script of just 195 words.

The film's director, Julie Laslett, is managing director of Dramatic Media Ltd, which produces innovative visual resources for schools.

She said: "Julia Jarman and I both live in Riseley and have a mutual interest in education and she is a regular visitor to schools in Bedfordshire.

"We decided that a chapter of her book would make a wonderful 'Book to Screen' resource and decided to approach a local school to see whether they would participate in our idea."