I have an 11-and-a-half-year old who seems to watch movies and TV shows more as a writer or director rather than as a viewer. She’ll second-guess the plot, for example; and also sometimes think that shots should be made in a certain way. Do you have any suggestions for such a young aspiring filmmaker?
First off, kudos for recognizing her interest. By far the most helpful thing a parent can do is to encourage their kids to explore what they like, and to appreciate what they’re able to create. Her talent is like a tiny flame. It’s your job to keep supplying the kindling she needs to burn, but avoid the temptation to throw on too much too soon. You risk overwhelming her if she’s not ready to move on to more sophisticated things.
If she has a favorite TV show, try taping an episode, then transcribing it together. She’ll probably be fascinated to see what scenes look like when they’re written down on paper. She may have ideas for her own scenes that are better than the originals.
Likewise, you might help her find some fan fiction on the internet for her favorite shows or movies. A lot of fan fiction is terribly written – and some of it is very X-rated, so you’ll want to pre-screen – but if it inspires her to write her own, fantastic.
If you happen to have a Mac and a DV video camera, iMovie is a no-brainer. She can make little movies to her heart’s content, especially if you’re willing to help when asked.
If she’s more interested in the design side of things, like costumes and sets, try to get her involved with a children’s playhouse, or even a local community theater. There are lots of jobs she could probably do, even at her age. Personal bias, but I don’t think enough kids learn how to hammer or sew these days.
And keep in mind that her school district might have special drama or creative writing programs. Ask her if she’d like to join one. Just remember: always support, but never push. At some point, all kids rebel against their parents, and if they associate you too strongly with the activity that gives them happiness, there’s a chance they might walk away from it altogether.