“Education is compulsory, school is not”. A thought-provoking tagline for the innovative new insight into the world of home-schooling, “I don’t want to go to school” – a documentary directed by Katie-Marie Lynch, an ambitious film student I met years ago at Stage 2 drama school. We explored the motivations behind the upcoming picture and why its set to make an important statement.
What’s the idea behind the film?
‘I don’t want to go to school’ will be a thorough exploration into the world of education with a focus on home education. I will be following families in the UK where home education is still underrepresented, families in America where home education is something taken with a great pride and families in Amsterdam where home education is not recognised by Netherland law. This film will get all of these characters to talk to each other and reach out to those who do not home educate.
Is this something you feel passionately about?
Absolutely, I wasn’t home schooled myself but I have always been curious about the different ways that people learn around the world. Education is a big deal; even in countries where families cannot afford school, education becomes what society teaches them. Education moulds us as individuals and as such I think the opportunity to learn about these paths is a privilege I can’t wait to get stuck into.
What processes go into making a picture like this?
The first step is polishing off your idea inside your noggin. For me it helps me to think out loud to any unfortunate soul who is willing to listen. It’s great when you reach the stage that with those ideas you can get into a discussion that poses a lot of questions, like for this documentary I love it when people ask me things like: do homeschoolers wear a uniform? How can you teach PE at home? And isn’t home schooling illegal? That is when I think about how I could answer these questions clearly and in an interesting way. And although it isn’t such a romantic idea, it is here I have to consider if an idea is worth the investment in time, money and resources. There would be no way that I could make this film without networking, when I posted a tweet looking for a professional narrator and another one looking for a home schooling mum in America I never expected one person to fit the bill of both but it’s great! Throughout the whole documentary, networking is going to be really important to try and get a discussion going about home schooling and then react accordingly in the next shot and so on. Whilst getting all the facts right is important for any documentary, being able to add that human element is what adds the character of a film. I can’t deny that a lot goes into the actual shooting of a documentary, unlike shooting a drama there is no script and there is no knowing who is going to do or say what when. The scariest thing is that you never know when a plane is going to go past during the best interview ever known to man. But that also makes it more exciting, no retakes just right there in the moment capturing the truth as it happens in two countries that I have never visited before. After filming, the process is by no means over. Editing is what tends to determine the overall style of the film. It can be quite tough choosing what needs to go on the cutting room floor, especially after blood, sweat and tears but if it’s got to go it’s got to go.The final stage in making a documentary like this one is getting your film out there. Most documentaries these days go down the festival route, which is my intention for ‘I don’t want to go to school’ but getting your film into cinema is possible. It just happens to be incredibly hard.
How can people view the documentary?
The final documentary will be available on Vimeo for a few days in May; the link will be posted on https://www.facebook.com/IDontWantToGoToSchoolDocumentary. After this it will be shown at the Coventry University Degree show before being entered into the festival circuit. All updates will be on the above Facebook page.
What kind of impact do you want the film to make ?
I have only ever seen film’s surrounding home education produced in and for an American audience and considering that there are 80,000 children currently being taught at home in the UK I feel it is about time that this significant group in society were given a voice. We already have shows representing mainstream education, such as Educating the East End and Waterloo road but I hope that this documentary will get people talking about different ways to educate beyond the mainstream and finally bust some uneducated stereotypes too.
Tell us about any other projects you’ve been involved in
I have been quite lucky in that I have had a rather varied experience of projects that I have worked on, from a researcher for the community channel, sound designer for a love story between a water cooler and a photocopier and an animator on a project which was (successfully) used to convince a primary school class that there was an alien in their playground! (Fingers crossed they don’t read this). No two projects are even close to being the same and I love constantly having to come up with something new.
What motivated you to go into the film industry?
Since I was a kid I have never been able to watch a film simply for it’s entertainment value, I can’t help myself from analysing every little detail within the frame and wondering what I would do differently myself. It’s a curse at times but I am constantly inspired by what I see, hear and feel and want to turn it into something a little quirky, taking the audience somewhere they have never been before as this teaches me a lot about life and myself too. I am that annoying friend that will talk through films, give alternative endings and make a lot of notes but I’ve always been passionate about the arts and couldn’t imagine life any other way. I used to think that I would love to be in front of the camera, attending a youth theatre was a great experience but I’m not really that confident and as a producer I can still play a part in creating a new world but how I feel most comfortable; in my cowboy boots and poncho.
How can others get their foot in the door?
Filmmaking can be an expensive and stressful business but with the right passion it is possible and can be very rewarding. Film making used to mean expensive cameras and sucking up to the right contacts but it isn’t so much like that anymore, even iphones have pretty decent camera’s these days so there is no reason why anyone can’t capture something inspiring. If you’re serious about breaking into the industry the best advice anyone ever gave me was to dare to be different and to just be a nice person. You never know when your postman might be willing to share a link of your Facebook page in the future so give them a smile in the morning just in case! There is a difference between creating art and creating work for the mainstream market and this is something that I am increasingly learning at university. Learning how to create work to a brief is important in order to master certain production skills, even though it can be a little frustrating at times without taking note of others I don’t really think it is possible to fully develop your own style. Whilst working to what the mainstream public wants is more profitable risking something a little new is more rewarding in other ways. There is no point in creating a film that you don’t care about because the audience won’t care either. Likewise if you get a buzz of a topic, that can be contagious too. I guess being successful is finding somewhere in between the two so you can afford to eat but still enjoy what you do. Unfortunately there is no one-way to get your foot in the door but unless you’re best friends with Tim Burton, passion, lot’s of practice, lot’s of mistakes and a growing network is a good start.
What are your aspirations for the next few years?
This is the scariest question you can ask a soon to be graduate! Although it’s scary I am in an exciting place right now of being trusted to try new grown up things. I don’t know exactly what it is that I want to do, I just have that sort of personality that means that I doubt I ever will but I do know that I want to do something for children. I love how their imagination works and replicating that through film is fun and so very rewarding when you can engage such an audience. I am already going to be having a go at this from different angles in the next few months, both through producing for a young audience and having a go at teaching, only time will tell which route I end up taking.
If you were to narrate a trailer for it. what would you say to attract viewers?
There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.