Children’s Film Factory
Dziecięca Wytwórnia Filmowa (DWF) – Children’s Film Factory is the name of an animated film workshop for children in the primary school age (up to 14) that has been existing since 1985. DWF started to operate as early as in the epoch of celluloid. Its beginnings resemble a bit the times of Emil Reynaud, an animated film precursor, as well as the beginnings of the cinema itself before the cinematograph had been invented, as the work with children started not from a camera and filmmaking, but from projections, riddles and discussions, from constructing simple toys, drawing phases of movement on little sheets, empiric sight inertia testing, manipulating a slide projector, learning how to make pictures and process photosensitive materials. A camera appeared one year later and together with it all the possibilities – those which have emerged at the moment when Thomas Edison made the first animated film with the use of a cinematograph by recording a process of drawing pictures, and those which could just come to our minds. We have experimented with the camera in all possible ways, animating literally everything in the range of our eyes – objects, drawings, spilled paints, as well as living figures, which was the most fascinating for children as they could become characters of their own episodes and watch themselves on the screen. There were a lot of children, over a dozen and more, whereas there was only one camera. With a typical, individualistic approach this could have ruined realization plans. On the other hand, animation itself is such an arduous and time-consuming technique, requiring patience and consistency, that from its proper nature it is as if inaccessible for children. In this situation, team work - an entirely innovatory in contrast to classic, individual animation working method - turned out to be an excellent solution. What in those conditions could have become an obstacle and a deficiency started to construct unique specifics of DWF’s films.
Together, children prepared set elements, animated, added ideas to the script, took care for the film plan, set the lights, operated the camera, and at the end of shooting participated in technological processing of the shot material by putting the tape to corex, blending reagents, checking temperature, rinsing the developed film and hanging it to dry... Working in this way they gained an idea about the entire process of filmmaking – from a concept to putting the reel on the projector. That is why we have taken the name Children’s Film Factory.
Even though over the years children changed and new techniques of picture recording emerged this name till today has retained its original sense, and in time became an own brand of animations that have their proper, recognizable character. Although since 2000 we have been working on the basis of a digital medium we still use a classic still-frame technique. Both films based on one’s own ideas taken from life or imagination and adaptations of literary works are created here. Some of them are individual realizations of participants, on others children work in a group, debating together over the script, together creating elements for the set and in turns animating subsequent episodes of the film. Sometimes a film is created basing on linking individual variations and attempts to express a common theme or story.
In workshop classes artists from different domains and media often take part, presenting their technique of creation – of pictures, sculptures, spatial arrangement, photography, graphics, film, 3D animation and music. Encounters with workshop aspects of these domains, thematically related with definite ideas, facilitate using various animation techniques at film realizations, widening perception of widely understood art and demonstrating how much animation can derive from it.
DWF cultivates the tradition of familiarizing children with the history of this genre through projections of artistic animated film works, as well as meetings with outstanding authors, just as it took place during Piotr Dumała’s exhibition and workshop presentation, or meetings with authors such as Witold Giersz and Professor Jerzy Kucia in Entropia Gallery. The opportunity of having contact with personalities and works of great authors, notwithstanding how much it could surpass children’s perception as regards realization capabilities or the contents conveyed, has a major meaning for its development and leaves in children’s imagination indelible traces.
DWF makes it possible for children to take the role of creators, to change their attitudes from passive and consumer-like to active towards surroundings, culture and media. We do not assume that every kid will some day become a filmmaker, yet we do hope that they will free themselves from idle staring into screens and in the future they will be creative people, more aware and educated. And parenthetically quite good films are created.
Alicja Jodko is a philosopher by her education, her main occupation are editorial graphics, visual poetry, multimedia and film – especially animated, and in the DWF she teaches children realize animated films in frames of a classic still-frame technique, in a specific way running group workshop classes.
This project has been carried out with the financial support of Local Authorities of the City of Wroclaw.
Translation: Anna Molik