Making Movies with Kids

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Making Movies with Kids


A scene from Bianca Giaever's "The Scared is Scared."
A scene from Bianca Giaever’s “The Scared is Scared.”

Anyone who has kids will, at one time or another, point a video camera (or smartphone) at them and make a little home movie. But how about letting kids play a more active role in moviemaking? Bianca Giaever doesn’t have kids herself, but the young filmmaker has created a great short film called The Scared is Scared, based on a story invented by a six-year-old boy named Asa. Bianca’s questions and Asa’s often flip-flopping, cute-as-can-be answers form the narration of the movie. Bianca takes Asa’s imaginative story and brings it to life as he tells it. It’s clever, funny, and poignant.

The Scared is Scared is the second film Bianca has made in this let-the-interviewee-write-the-movie format. The first was a short film about heartbreak (Bianca’s) called Holy Cow Lisa, which unfortunately is no longer available online. The Scared is Scared was written and produced in just four weeks for Bianca’s final class project at Middlebury College in Vermont. The day after she handed in the film, she graduated. An avid interviewer, her plan for making the movie was “to talk to as many kids as possible for as long as possible.”

She was listening for a story that would translate well to the screen. Since she would be filming the story on a student’s budget with limited time, stories of monsters knocking down buildings or flying bicycles would pose challenges. But she learned six-year-olds are the best story tellers.

“They have no self-awareness. Their stories are really imaginative and uninhibited.”

One strategy she used was asking her subjects for advice. She asked Asa for advice and his answer gives the film its title and its heart.

“I just treated him like an adult,” she says.

Her other tip was to know when to be quiet. Refraining from laughing (good naturedly) during an interview or filling in gaps of silence with more questions can cause your subject to clam up. Let them keep talking, she says.

Since Bianca released The Scared is Scared in January, the film has become a viral sensation.

“The response has been so awesome,” she says.

But at first she was worried about Asa’s reaction.

“What if I didn’t stay true to his vision?”

She needn’t have worried. Word is, Asa loved seeing his imagination come to life.

Have you made movies with kids? Are you a kid who has made a movie? Share your advice in the comments below. And meanwhile, if you’ve got a tip for Family Friday, please send it to me at

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Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook