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How to Start a Film Club in High School
Extracurricular activities play a key role on your college applications. They are evidence of your ability to manage your time well, they can demonstrate your prolonged dedication to a cause, and they provide a platform for highlighting your leadership skills. It is not uncommon for extracurriculars to be a determining factor in college admissions decisions.
In addition, extracurriculars undoubtedly contribute to your personal and academic growth. They force you to stretch your mind, and sometimes your body, by thinking and working in ways that aren’t always required in the classroom. They also allow you to explore potential career paths and areas of interest without committing to an academic line of study.
Sometimes, though, a student will find that his or her passions aren’t represented by the traditional or existing extracurricular offerings. Participation is easy if you’re on a sports team or a member of a school club. But what if your interests take a different form?
What if, for example, you’re a film fanatic and you’d rather rush home after school to dissect the latest from M. Night Shyamalan than sit through another meeting with your school’s photography club? Where can you find a niche for your interests that allows them to grow through collaboration? How can you make it clear that you didn’t spend your entire high school career locked in your bedroom in front of the TV?
Starting a film club is a great way to show some initiative, collaborate with others, and explore your interests. Not only that, but it shows that you’re serious about studying film as an art form rather than just as a screen time addict.
In this post, we’ll outline how to start a film club, from your initial brainstorming all the way through everyday functions of the club. If you’re interested in starting your own film club in high school, keep reading to learn how.
Choose What Kind of Film Club to Start
Film is a broad topic, so you will need to fine-tune your subject matter before you can move forward. Think about what kinds of films interest you most and the discussions you enjoy having about them. Do you like almost any big screen feature film, or are you more into alternative or festival releases? Your club could center on just about anything, from entertainment and general film studies to more specific political or social documentaries.
In order to select a focus for your club, you should consider more than just your own personal preferences. You’ll need members for your club too, so you might begin by taking an informal poll of potentially interested members. Get an idea of what other students would like from a film club before you choose the focus. This way you can be certain that your club is accommodating as many interested students as possible.
Some options for your film club’s focus could be: foreign films, documentaries focused on specific issues, collections from featured actors or directors, specific genres, or even specific settings. Sometimes, you can even select a series of films with similar story structures, such as the hero’s journey. Selecting a focus for your film club is the first step to establishing it as a serious, thoughtful endeavor and not just an excuse to watch TV.
Research Your School’s Requirements for School Clubs
Most schools have stringent guidelines regarding how a new school club must be formed. There is usually an application process and a set timeline for completing it. Often, the idea for a new club must be proposed in the winter or spring so that it can be implemented the following fall. Leave plenty of time to figure out what your school’s specific guidelines dictate.
Also remember that a club doesn’t necessarily have to be a school-sanctioned one in order to exist. Yes, school clubs may seem more official on a college application, but you can start any club you want, at any time, if you do so outside of your school. You could potentially host the club through the library or a local teen center. These options may be viable even if you run into obstacles forming a formal club through your school.
Find an Adviser
If you’re forming your club through your school, you will almost certainly be required to have a faculty adviser, and even if your club isn’t through your school, you can still benefit from the insight and guidance of a mentor or adviser.
Ideally, your club’s adviser will be someone with whom you’ve worked closely in the past and who knows you well. Further, this person should have some sort of expertise, or at the very least a shared interest, in the films you plan to watch and discuss.
When you approach a teacher or mentor to ask if they’d be willing to be an adviser for your film club, you should already have a pretty good idea of what the club will be doing. Outline the club’s focus and specifically the commitment you’re looking for from an adviser. There’s a big difference between an adviser who is expected to lead discussions on a weekly basis and one who is simply the required faculty signature for checking out the movie projector.
Your adviser will also be able to lend insight and expertise to the application process if you are pursuing a formal school club. Even if you aren’t, an adviser will likely have valuable advice about forming the club and day-to-day club activities.
At the beginning, founding members for your club will be instrumental to contributing to the club’s direction and focus. You should arrange an early, unofficial meeting with interested students to discuss the club’s potential. Advertise your meeting through a school announcement, social media, posters, or the school newspaper, so that all interested students will know about it in advance.
At the meeting, brainstorm the club’s format. Most movies are generally too long to watch an entire film and then discuss it in one sitting. Will you watch a film one week and discuss it the next? Will you watch films on your own time and meet to discuss them? Will you watch a film in sections, stopping it to discuss as you go? Potential student members will likely have good ideas and opinions about the format of club meetings.
You will also need to decide who will lead the discussions. Will you take turns? Will there be a club president who always takes the lead? Will you print questions from the Internet?
Finally, start a discussion about the club’s expectations and commitment. What if students only end up attending once every few weeks? Is there a required attendance minimum? How about standards for participation during the actual meetings? Now is the time to clearly agree on commitment and expectations so that everyone knows exactly what they’re signing up for.
Plan a Budget
The budget for a film club should be fairly minimal, but you’ll need to outline your specific costs so that you know exactly what you can plan on during the year.
Usually you can use space at your school, teen center, or local library for free. You will probably also be able to use equipment for free, like a TV or projector. You may need to account for movie rental or streaming fees, and you should consider if you’ll be providing snacks or drinks during your meetings. Also think ahead to potential field trips or special activities.
Once you have a basic idea of the club’s expenses, brainstorm how you’ll source that income. Will there be dues paid by every member? Will you hold fundraisers? Will your school contribute to the costs? Make sure to have a concrete plan in place so that you don’t find yourself fronting your own money or going into debt.
Now you’re ready for the fun part: film club meetings. In the early official meetings, you’ll need to take care of some crucial details. If you’ll be holding elections for club officers, you will need to identify leadership roles, delegate duties and responsibilities, and conduct elections.
You will also need to come up with a club mission statement. This is a great activity to undertake during your first meeting since it generally gets everyone talking about their goals and visions for the club. Have someone act as scribe and take notes so that you can make sure everyone’s ideas are heard. Try to hone them all down to just a few sentences, identifying the purpose and the goals of your film club.
Finally, outline the expectations for members, as established during your initial brainstorming meetings. Be sure that everyone knows what is expected of them during the meetings to come.
Now your hard work has paid off and you’re ready to settle into everyday club operations and share your passion for watching and discussing films with your peers.
If you’re a cinephile who’s itching to share and discuss your passion for films with your classmates, forming your own film club might be the perfect avenue for doing so. Not only are you bound to gain exposure to different perspectives about the movies you watch, but also you’ll have the opportunity to gain leadership skills and exhibit your commitment and initiative, all of which will look great on a college application.
If you still feel uncertain about taking the leap to start your own club, or you just aren’t sure where to look to find an existing club that suits your interests, consider checking out the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from successful college students.
For more information about extracurricular activities in high school, check out these posts: